Degrees of Sin?

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Right or wrong; good or evil; light or darkness; spirit or flesh.  Why are we always trying to blur the line between these?  Our society has sought to teach us that there are degrees of sin.  We see it in our legal system and even in our churches.  But I have always been taught that sin is sin, and God hates it all. What may not send you to jail, can still most certainly send you to hell.

Many people believe some things are okay to do. After all everybody does them, right?  But as Christians, we are not supposed to be like everybody else.  We are a peculiar people, and our ways should not be the same as the ways of the world.  We have to set the standard and the example. Why would anyone want to become a Christian if we constantly prove to them that we are no different than everyone else they know?  Let’s look at some examples of where we fall short.

We tell others all the time that they should not lie.  God hates lies, and He is not a man that He should lie.  Yet, when we glance at our caller ID, and see that it’s Sister Brown calling AGAIN, we tell our child to answer the phone and to tell Sister Brown that we are not home.  Now this may very well be the same child we gave a spanking to a few days ago because he or she lied about breaking our favorite vase.  What message are we sending?  Is it okay to lie when it’s convenient?  I would think that our child also believed it was convenient to lie about that broken vase.

It is one of God’s commandments that we should not steal.  Most of us would never dream of holding up a bank or breaking into our neighbor’s home.  Stealing is against the law.  But we think nothing of pilfering a towel or bathrobe from the hotel we stayed in.  We do not flinch at buying a bootleg DVD or CD on the street corner. Some may even feel okay buying stolen merchandise – after all we aren’t the one’s whole stole it, and it’s a crime how much they charge for it in the store.  We certainly don’t feel bad about slacking off on the job or taking a few office supplies home for our own personal use.  But in both cases, we are stealing from our employer. 

Murder is the most heinous crime that we can think of.  And we know that it is also one of God’s commandments that we should not kill.  But we do kill, using one of the most dangerous weapons there is; our tongues.  We don’t see it as a problem when we berate, belittle and slander our brothers and sisters. When we break their self-esteem and trash their reputations. When we make them feel so small, that they would rather we had killed them.  We are to talk to each other in love.  We are supposed to pray for those who have fallen, rather than talk about them.  What in the world are we thinking?

Not too long ago, I had a sister at my church complain to me about someone who was slated to give the welcome for our choir’s anniversary program.  “I don’t want her standing up there representing ME!” she said.  “You know, she used to be a stripper!” 

I thought about the fact that this same sister had lived out of wedlock with a man for nearly twenty years.  Of course there’s no law against that; it’s called common law marriage.  Under God’s law, however, it’s fornication and it’s a sin.  I didn’t bother to bring that up.  I just shook my head, turned to her and said. “Well, we all used to be SOMETHING.  Even you.”

I say that to say this:  We as Christians need to get out of the mindset that one sin is worse than the next.  We may not be thieves and murderers, but we may be liars, and back-biters and gossips.  We may have hate in our hearts.  We may still have evil thoughts.  We may be prideful.  We may be envious and covetous.  Sin is sin is STILL sin, and we need to recognize that (as I said earlier) what doesn’t send us to jail can still send us to hell.


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