If you have been following this series of posts, you might remember that I defined used "Knowingly caused avoidable injury in another human" as one definition of sin.
If you were to look at the Ten Commandments, you would see that the first three Commandments, and presumably the most important, are sometimes defined as sins against God.
One: You shall have no false-gods before me
Two: You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain
Three: You shall observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy
The impossibility of "injuring" God
As believers, we tend to accept the Ten Commandments as our marching orders, as-written. We don't over-think them.
That is not always the case when discussing them with non-believers. Our layman's definition of sin, where somebody is avoidably injured, runs into tough-sledding with the "sins against God". It is beyond human understanding to grasp how we might injure God.
Another factor that comes into play is that humans are inherently self-centered, "What is in it for me?" If we are to engage people in a discussion about "Forgiveness" then we need to be prepared to speak to that question even if we don't think it is the meat-and-potatoes of being a believer.
A few of the False-gods:
Self: Raising our self and our feelings above God.
Feelings are as fleeting as the weather. Our conscious thoughts are as continuous as broken shards of glass and only become smooth and logical in our our after-the-fact rationalizations. And we would dare imply that those are better yardsticks to measure morality than 4000 years of revelation and prayer and contemplation and lived experiences?
Drugs: Some people become addicted. They make pursuit of their next fix the false-god that directs their life. Do I need to go into detail about why this is not a good option?
Power and Wealth: Power derived from coercion and threat evaporates the second the ability to deliver on the threat disappears. Pursuit of power is a zero-sum-game and eventually, we will end up old and weak.
Wealth is tied to the integrity of the government. If you have a million dollars and tomorrow the government prints one-hundred dollars for every one currently in circulation, your buying power is now only ten-thousand dollars worth.
Power and wealth are not solid foundations upon which to build your life.
Popularity and coolness: Both depend on rejecting the old (and proven) and embracing the new. It is a rat racing on a treadmill. There is no peace, no serenity in pursuing Popularity and Cool.
Popularity and coolness are sands that shift even more quickly than power and wealth.
It does not take much imagination to see how we hurt PEOPLE when we create false-gods in our lives. Clearly, hurting people is something we should ask forgiveness for.
Do not take the name of God in vain
The modern person's understanding of "name" is very, very different than the ancient person's understanding of "name".
In ancient times you were part of a family. That family might engage in businesses like raising sheep, forging iron or trading for precious gems. That identity of "family" was the center of how you defined yourself.
"Name" was shorthand for being a full member of that family and having the authority to engage in those businesses as an agent and to demand food, shelter and protection from enemies.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father tells his servants to give the returning son a cloak, a ring and sandals.
The cloak would tell others the son's station in life. Even today we have "Investiture ceremonies" where incoming officials are given their robes of office.
The ring was a signet ring that would be rolled in hot wax to seal documents, contracts, committing the family to an agreement. It was used instead of a signature because most people could not read but they would instantly recognize a family crest.
The sandals elevated the returning son and protected him from walking on animal manure (unclean) and sharp stones that could wound his feet.
To an ancient times, "name" meant station-in-life, it meant authority, it affirmed your right to be supplied with food and shelter.
A modern man might scoff at this, but is it that different from your good-standing in your profession? Is it different from your FICO score and the opinion your neighbors have of you?
Interpreting "Do not take the name of God in vain" as meaning we should not say "God Damn!!!" is a small portion of the commandment. Frankly, God's name is probably something we cannot pronounce with human vocal cords and would take us 6.5 million years to enunciate.
As originally understood, "Do not take God's name in vain" was more along the lines of "Don't misrepresent your minor position within the Mafia and start shaking down businesses for your personal profit." If you aspire to be one of God's people, if you want to be in His family, then play your position and don't pretend to be more than you are.
From my personal life, I will tell you that playing-out-of-position is exhausting. It is draining. On the other hand, if you can play in-your-position, it is energizing and a font-of-life.
Putting yourself in a position where you are playing-out-of-position is fraud and it is a injury against yourself and against those people who are depending on you.
Keep Holy the Sabbath
Suppose you had a co-worker who met a nice Irish girl from New Hampshire while skiing.
He rhapsodizes about her red hair, green eyes, freckles and melodious voice day-after-day. Clearly, he is besotted with her charms.
After a year, you ask how many times he went and visited his beloved.
"Not once" he tells you.
"Do you talk on the phone or video chat?" you ask, fishing.
"Nope. She doesn't believe in technology" he informs you.
Years, nay decades go by and he continues his Quixotesque pursuit of his Rosinante.
At the very least you would consider your friend delusional for falling in love with a fantasy of his own creation. At worst you would think he was creepy.
The person who says they believe in God but does not Make-the-Date once a week is not much different than our co-worker who is in love with a fantasy of his own creation. To put it baldly, he is in love with himself.
See "Put no false-gods before me".
Man as a social creature
According to once source, the New Testament mentions the word "Shepherd" 16 times. Humans are social creatures. Some are more social. Others are less social. But it is a very rare person who does not need at least a little bit of human company and affirmation.
Living the collective wisdom of the Bible and the Judeo-Christian heritage sometimes demands that you depart from old friends and old habits. You can get support by finding a place to worship and spending some time there on the sabbath every week.
Finding a community of like-minded people will go a long way towards avoiding the near-occasion-of-sin.