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Wrongdoing, particularly the breaking of moral or religious rules. In the Hebrew scriptures, sin is viewed as a hatred of God or defiance of his commandments. The New Testament regards sinfulness as the inherent state of humanity, which Jesus came into the world to heal. Christian theologians divide sin into actual and original sin. Actual sin, consisting of evil acts, words, and deeds, is in turn divided into mortal sin, in which the perpetrator deliberately turns away from God, and venial sin, a less serious transgression committed without full awareness of wrongdoing. In Islam, sin is a straying from God's path; the prophets were sent to guide people back to the true path. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the good and evil deeds one commits in this life affect one's rebirth in the next.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sin, visit Britannica.com.