What is iniquity?
Iniquity is the inner act of willfulness against God. It involves the attitudes of the heart. Scripture specifically identifies the following iniquities: bitterness (see Acts 8:23), greed (see Acts 8:18–23), lust (Job 31:1–12), and stubbornness (I Samuel 15:23).
The Greek word for iniquity that is used most frequently in the New Testament is anŏmia, which means “illegality, i.e. violation of the law or . . . wickedness.” It stems from the word anŏmŏs, which refers to not being subject to the law. Based on the teaching of Jesus and other passages of Scripture, iniquity is doing our own will instead of God’s will, even if our own will appears to be “doing good.”
Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21–23).
The definition of iniquity as “doing our own will” is confirmed in Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Psalm 119:1–3 declares that when we walk in God’s ways, we do no iniquity: “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.”