Unrighteousness (ἀδικία) encompasses both the evil determinations within the mind and the resulting actions that violate standards of right conduct. Therefore, unrighteousness is the bigger term, including both trespasses and sins. A trespass happens within the mind when a determination is made to do something that a person knows is against God’s standard. It is from this desire that sin is birthed, James 1:14-15. Scripture specifically defines sin in 1 John 3:4 as lawlessness and exterior to the body in 1 Corinthians 6:18. Since sins and trespasses are different, for we were dead in both, the trespass happens within the mind when a determination is made to sin and therefore the sin is working out that desire, Ephesians 2:1.
In the first chapter of Romans, we are given a list of unrighteousness. In this list is mental attitudes and actions that are both unrighteous in their nature. “And just as they did not approve worthy to have the God in full experiential knowledge, the God gave them over to an unapproved mind to do what is wrong, being filled up where they lack in all unrighteousness: fornication, malignant evil, covetousness, lacking in character, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, bad character, secret slanderers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, arrogant, inventors of wrong, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, without natural affection, irreconcilable, not merciful.” Romans 1:28-31.
In these last times, there are many false teachers among us who bring in destructive heresies, denying the Lord, 2 Peter 2:1. Their ways are of destruction, they blasphemy the truth and by covetousness exploit with deceptive words, 2 Peter 2:2-3. Many of these go after the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 2 Peter 2:15, which is the willingness to manipulate Christians into destroying themselves for profit, such as with tithing, or allowing perverted behavior within the assembly. Do not be fooled, God is not mocked, Galatians 6:7. They will receive in full the wages of their unrighteousness, 2 Peter 2:13.
When the man of lawlessness comes, all those who did not believe the truth and took pleasure in unrighteousness will be under strong delusion to believe the lie and will be condemned along with him, for he will deceive them in all unrighteousness because they did not receive the truth that they should be saved, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
When it comes to overcoming sin in our lives, we must use the truth, which is a specific doctrine for how to have victory over our sin nature, John 8:32. The sin nature has been rendered ineffective in Christ because His death and resurrection have been imputed to us; therefore, we are able to walk in newness of life, Romans 6:4-5. In order to apply this to our lives we must know that the sin nature has been rendered ineffective in Christ because one who has died to sin is no longer a slave to it, Romans 6:6. We then must reckon the fact that being co-crucified and therefore raised with Christ we are no longer a slave to the sin nature, Romans 6:11. What value will the truth have if we do not take God at His word and apply it to our lives? And then finally, we are to yield our members to God as alive from the dead unto righteousness and stop using them for unrighteousness, Romans 6:13. Rejecting unrighteousness in our lives involves not only our actions, but our frame of mind, for what goes on in the mind always impacts our activities. Therefore, we are to set our mind on the things above, Colossians 3:1-2, for the mind set on the flesh works out death, but when set on the Spirit it produces life and peace, Romans 8:6.
All sin has a quality of unrighteousness, 1 John 5:17. When we verbally agree with God concerning an action that is sin because God calls it sin, He is faithful to forgive that sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9. As we walk in the light and apply the truth to our lives, we have victory over darkness, which is a manifestation of our sin nature, and therefore have fellowship with other saints and the blood of Christ keeps on cleansing us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. The longer we walk in the light and apply the truth (Know, Romans 6:6 – Reckon, Romans 6:11 – Yield, Romans 6:13) the less we sin, for when we are not yielding to unrighteousness within our minds we will not produce sin.