devotional

04NOV
2013

All Sin is not the Same in the Sight of God (v2)

I’ve heard a lot of people say that, “All sin is the same. There’s no big sin or little sin in God’s sight.” I understand why they say it, and there is some truth to it, but this is not a correct statement except in one thing – that all sin, if not forgiven in Christ, condemns us. Whatever it is that you’re speaking of, if it’s sin then it damns equally. We must have forgiveness for all of it.

     To say that all sin is equally bad, however, is dangerous. I’ll give you one practical outworking of why this is so: My pastor was not removed from the pulpit this week…yet we know that he sinned. If He sins in cheating on his wife or embezzling the church, however, then he’d be removed. Why? Because, for example, the sin of cheating on his wife is more severe than the sin of neglecting God’s command to love others as God does, or the sin of not loving his wife each moment as Christ does His church. We understand the difference. If all sin was in fact, “The same” then no pastor would last an hour in his office. So why do we say all sin is the same? I wouldn’t call the cops if a youth visited a pornography site. That’s sin. I might call the cops if he keeps stealing from the offering plate once counseled. Surely no one in their right theological mind would see a murderer as equally to be dealt with as a gossiper.

     No matter what, you can gauge the severity of a crime by the sentence imposed when the crime is committed. Hell then is the indictment of an entire life without grace, and nothing but sin. Again, in this, all sin is indeed the same. Notwithstanding, in all of the Bible’s treatment on sin, God makes clear distinctions between some sins and others. I’m not Catholic or Arminian. I don’t believe that some sins can kick you out of the kingdom of heaven because of their severity or something. I am saying that all sin is not the same in God’s sight. I would also add that some sins evidence a false conversion much faster than others.

     Paul says in Romans 14:23 even just in relation to dietary conscience that, “…Whatever is not from faith is sin.” All sin is a matter for examination and repentance. In this all sin is the same. Again, I am not a Roman Catholic with varying dogmas regarding sin’s extent or penance(s) required for it. All sin is to be fought by us or fled from outright. It was one act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden that completely condemned the entire human race. So all sin does condemn man and in this there are no degrees.

     Still, there is plenty of Scripture that speaks of some sin as worse than others. Some sins merited the death penalty under the Law of Moses. Others didn’t. The sins of those closest to God are often shown, as being most exposed by a greater light of God, to be the most odious.

     Here are just a few evidences for variance in sin and then I’ll tell you why I’ve written this at all. Scripture says, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death,” 1 John 5:16-17. We may have to speculate about all that this means, but it’s clear that there is a difference between certain sins and others for those who profess to be justified in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul writes, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” Get that. Every sin is separately categorized from this one. God will destroy the sexually immoral. Sexual immorality (like fornication and homosexuality) are often listed at the top of the list as wickedness. Jesus repeats the following warning to the cities of Chorazin, Capernaum and Bethsaida: “…If the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you,” Matthew 11:21-22. There are degrees of punishment here. And lastly, we shouldn’t forget that Jesus says there’s only one unpardonable sin in Luke 12:10. This utter and complete rejection of God’s work is surely unforgiveable. A person who rejects Jesus Christ will surely, without dispute, be in hell because they will not have any of their sins forgiven. This sin is spoken of as very different than all others in that it can never be forgiven.

     My point in this is not to say that anyone should play games with sin. Jerry Bridges once wrote an excellent book called, “Respectable Sins.” Of course, as he teaches, there are none. My point is just that we should be precise when we speak. It makes the Christian message somewhat silly if the world honestly thinks we feel that all sin is exactly the same when God clearly doesn’t.

 

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