There is a pervasive lie in our culture, especially in the Christian culture, that says, “sin is sin.” The inference quite simply being that we all do it daily, all sin is equal, and it is no big deal. We tell people who have made habits of sin that we are no better because we all “sin.” We all tell little white lies, get angry at a passing driver, eat too much food at a buffet, or even take an angry tone with our kids from time to time. So, you see, we sin on a daily basis too–so no judgement is allowed. In other words we belittle and diminish sin as we brush it off with, “everyone does it.” This idea is damaging and hurtful to the cause of the gospel. It’s anti Biblical and is something that should be dealt with within the church culture. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul lists the sins of those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, and the key to my argument lies in vs. 11, ” And such were some of you.” Paul is talking to sinner and he himself is a sinner, but he says, “were some of you.” The point here is that there is a difference between being a sinner and being defined BY your sin!
The idea that all sin is somehow equal also puts people in the position of judge, and not the Holy God who should have that position. It allows us to draw the line. How many women can a married man have sex with before he’s an adulterer? Is that up to you or to me? How many items can you steal before you’re a thief? How many and how much is subjective, and therefore, a Christian should always follow Jesus’ example and say “sin no more,” instead of the prevailing argument of, “oh, well everyone sins and grace abounds so live your life and I’ll live mine.” A Holy God cannot see sin, so to say something flippant like, “well we all sin and all sin separates us from God” while true should not be twisted into an excuse to sin or allow sin into our lives. Instead quoting Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” should bring conviction and magnify our need for a Savior.
Another prevailing lie is to stake the claim that all people sin, and therefor no sin is any worse than another in terms of punishment. This makes God an unrighteous judge. Sure all sin leads to death, and all fall short of the glory of God, and of course all sin is covered by the blood of Christ, but the Bible is clear that continuing in sin (making a habit of sin) is the mark of an unbeliever (1 John 3), so there are varying degrees that mark the depravity of man. There comes a point in which God gives people over to their own depravity (Romans 1).I’ll come back to that later. Let us just use logic in this matter before I back it up with scripture (probably in a separate blog post). To say no sin is worse than another is to say God should judge a murderer the same as a glutton. Would you say a human judge is fair if he sent a man to jail for 20 years after a traffic violation? If he believed breaking the law is breaking the law? No, you wouldn’t. Then how can you call God a righteous judge if he gave the same punishment to Hitler as a single mother who led a morally clean life, provided for her family, and was always honest and truthful, but just never came to the saving faith that Jesus died for her sins? Would that be fair? Righteous? I don’t believe so. I would never call even an earthly judge fair if he did such a thing. This is coming from a logical perspective, and I will follow this up with another blog post to scripturally back this opinion. If you would like to read some of the verses in support just to step ahead here they are: Revelation 20, Luke 10, Matthew 26:24, Luke 20:47, Psalm 62:12, Proverbs 24:12, John 19:11, and Hebrews 10:29-30 to name a few. To be clear I’m not arguing the point that all sin leads to death–it does. I’m simply arguing that sins carry different severity in punishment/judgement, and to be flippant about sin (any sin) is wrong. Just as there are varying degrees of reward in heaven. To believe that there are varying degrees of reward, but not punishment, is saying God is an unrighteous and unfair judge.
You see the argument that your lifestyle sin is the same as my daily number of sins logically crumbles when you look at it in “real world” situations. When you look at the evolution of a sin becoming a “practice of sin” or “lifestyle.” No man in his right mind would punish their toddler for stealing a piece of candy, because the toddler thinks nothing of this. He does not know better! He/she does not know stealing is wrong. If, however, you give the child time to grow, teach him it is wrong to steal, and then catch him stealing then of course a punishment would need to ensue. If he still then continues to steal the punishment would become more harsh. The first occurrence might demand an apology to the store owner, returning the stolen item, and some sort of restriction at home. The second time might equal a trip to the police station. The third, fourth, fifth time you might just label the child as a thief and allow the law to punish them accordingly (if he hasn’t been caught already). As you might have noticed I’m trying to draw a distinction from the person who didn’t know any better, from the person who knew better and sinned once, and then the person who made a habit/lifestyle/practice of the sin. The Bible lists a few line items in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” These are not those who did the thing once or twice without knowing, nor are these the ones who continue their whole lives struggling with a particular sin, repenting, struggling, repenting, giving in once, struggling, repenting, etc.. These are the ones who have given into their sin nature! Ones who have become the definition of the word and have been labeled as such. The child who steals and became an adult who steals. Everyone in the community knows him as a thief and carefully watches him. As the Bible puts it in Romans these are the ones who are slaves to their sin.
It isn’t all doom and gloom of course. Can that child change his title of thief? Of course. The Holy Spirit makes us new creatures in which we want to put away our sin nature. The title, however, may linger until people can trust this person again. The issue that many in our culture run into (because we don’t want to judge) is telling a person they are o.k. to continue in their sin. They might not out right say it that way. They’ll say it more “Christian” like or “loving” and put it something like this, “well grace covers all iniquity/sin.” Or they might say, “oh it’s o.k. because I cheat on my taxes too every now and then, so you’re good to go.” The question I have is do you love the person you are talking to when you say such things? Because when you make it more personal to your own life, would you tell your kid it’s ok keep stealing, if it makes him happy, because grace will cover it? No, you wouldn’t. I’m going on a limb here but I highly doubt you would.
So, where do we get off as Christians telling others that sexual immorality is all good because grace will cover it? That it may be a drinking problem but who am I to judge? Oh it’s just sex, and I could go on and on. Why do we do this when eternal life is at stake?! Do we not truly believe it is? Or do we not believe the Bible when it says, “do not be deceived” x,y,z WILL NOT enter the kingdom of heaven? Telling someone to continue to sin, or even to make light of sin, is taking advantage of Christ’s sacrifice, and it isn’t Biblical. Hebrews 10:26-29 says, “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
Christian, you do not know the heart of any man! Only God knows the heart. We don’t even know our own heart. Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.Who can understand it?” The only way we get a glimpse into a person’s faith unto salvation is their fruits (i.e. their spiritual walk). Of course this does not tell us everything. Looking at the lives of all Biblical Characters we might as some point or another not see fruits salvific in nature. Everyone sins. But let’s be careful of justifying, or making light, of sin in someones life. Let’s not assume the election and calling of a person because they “asked Jesus in their heart.” We should always admonish sin and encourage a brother to repent. We should never tell a person, “do what makes you happy, grace will cover it.”
Jesus tells the parable in Matthew 13 of the seeds in soil. There is fertile soil, rocky soil, and soil choked out by thorns. We can look at the life of a person after they’ve died to see the fullness of their life fruits, but the picture we see of them current does not always show if they are seeds in rocky soil that sprouted up quickly but had no root, a seed being choked out by thorns, etc.. The point is you don’t know where a person is in their faith. So don’t be the thorn choking out the seed! Don’t be the christian planting ideas in the head of a person on the verge of salvific faith/saving faith. Tempting them to continue in sin. You might be saved, Christ blood covering your sins (the ones you so proudly proclaim that you do daily and are still saved), but how do you know they are? If they are in sin how do you know?
I just listed Hebrews 10:26-27 above. There is no more sacrifice for those willing to continue in sin with full knowledge of the truth. So how can you even, as a Christian, begin to give someone such assurance of their salvation as they continue in sin? I have to ask, do you think you are God? How are you so flippant with someone else’s salvation?
The same question was addressed in Paul’s day. In Romans 6 Paul goes into detail about sin ruling over our life, becoming a new creature and no longer being a slave to sin, and the key portion for this argument is the portion in which he says, “15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” Or what about Jesus in John 8 and John 5 where he says, “go and sin no more.” Why would you answer any different than the Apostle Paul or Jesus himself? You have no right, or bases, to do so. If a person is in sin (a practice of sinning) then you have no right to say in so many words, “oh well we all sin daily.” Instead you use scripture to admonish that person. The scriptures say we should do this with the goal of gaining a brother!
1 John 3:4-10 is probably the most straight forward to cut right to the heart of the matter. “4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” We are talking about people who make a “practice” of sinning! Not a Christian, saved by grace, who sins daily because of our fallen nature BUT hasn’t given in to sin. To say, “well sin is sin and I sin daily so I won’t judge” is failing your brother. It is assuming the salvation of the person when you have NO assurance of that in their life. Paul was a sinner, so were all of the apostles, in yet they admonished their brothers in Christ. Where did they get this right if we aren’t supposed to judge?
I have written so much I’m going to conclude and say that the point of living righteous lives isn’t to become self righteous, but that God be glorified and edified in our lives and work. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 say, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” To God be the glory for saving us from sin! Nobody would say about an adulterer, thief, or drunkard that God is visible in their lives. But in the life of a true believer, although he is a sinner, you will see fruits of repentance and faith that will point to Christ. He won’t be defined by his sin, but will give God the glory for delivering him from it!