Is all sin the same?
"Is all sin the same?" The question could mean several things, so the answer will have several parts.
The aspect of spiritual disqualification: In terms of being disqualified from entering Heaven, all it takes is one unrepented-of sin of any kind to disqualify a person from entering heaven.
James 2: 10, 11 in speaking of the legalistic aspect of the Old Law said "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a transgressor of the law." The impact of even one sin is further pointed out in the fact that Adam and Eve committed only one sin (Genesis 3) before being expelled from the garden of Eden and from their close association with God. Moses committed one seemingly innocuous sin in Numbers 20: 7-12, but that sin kept him from setting foot in the promised land (Deuteronomy 34: 1-12). The newly baptized Simon committed the sin of trying to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit with money before having pronounced upon him one of the mos serious rebukes ever given in the New Testament (Acts 8: 9-24). The most visible confrontation between apostles in the New Testament came over Simon Peter's one sin of trying to lead Christians back in Judeaism (Galatians 2: 11-16). One unrepented-of sin is enough to keep a person out of heaven.
If we don't understand this, it may be because we do not understand the seriousness of sin. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is any kind of rebellion against God, expressed as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life (I John 2: 15-17). God doesn't put up with rebellion. He will work a long time with weakness, but He doesn't have patience with rebellion. This passage from Romans 1: 28-32 shows God's level playing field when it comes to all manifestations of man's rebellion: " And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them."
Wow! What a difference! And we thought that being disobedient to parents wasn't anywhere near murder! So are envy and strife and being haughty! This shows us how little we may know of God's mind when it comes to understanding his viewpoint on sin. Isa 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah."
The aspect of earthly consequences: The following observations are offered in the vein of "doing unto others as you would want them to do to you." If a store owner had a choice between someone thinking about robbing him using a firearm as opposed to him actually doing it, wouldn't he rather have the potential robber only think about it? Far less harm is done. Wouldn't a husband prefer to have another man only think about commiting adultery with his wife, as compared with having him capture her fantasies and actually rend her from him? Would each of us prefer to have someone only think of slugging us instead of having him do it? In the earthly sense, there is some obvious difference in the immediate effects of various sins. That is not to say that it is right in the sight of God for people to have such thoughts (Matthew 5: 21, 22; 27-32).
The aspect of the Bible's declaration of sins being different in any way: Scripture declares one sin to be different in character from the others. I Corinthians 6: 18-20 says "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body." By Biblical proclamation, this sin is different from others. Nevertheless, it's not one that any prudent person would want to take with him to the judgement.
Scripture makes some distinction about one's opportunity to know about sin and avoid it. That distinction does not remove all responsibility to know and to obey the truth, however. Luke 12:47-48--" And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more." It is the church's responsibility to preach the Gospel to the whole world, and surely "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned" Mark 16: 16. How severely the unbeliever may be punished in Hell will vary according to his opportunity to have learned (see also Romans 2: 11-16).
1Jo 5:16, 17 "If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." What is this distinction? Given the following several other scriptures, it would appear that "committing an occasional sin" and "living in sin" are different things. Isaiah declared "Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear." Isaiah 59: 1, 2. Also II Peter 3: 9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." and finally Luke 13: 3 "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish." and the composite picture seems to be that the sin unto death is sin that is not repented of. We cannot repent of the sins that others commit. We can pray for people to turn from an occasional sin that has entered into their lives, but if they have settled into longterm sin, this un-repented-of sin becomes a sin unto death.
Sin? We don't want any of it. Let us allow Jesus to take all of the sin, guilt, and shame from us.
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