''Winging It' with Stan Smith
Originally posted on 07/11/2018
There are lots of sins in the Bible. (Who knew, right?) And we know that all sins are equal in the eyes of the Lord, right? Well, perhaps not. All sins are equal in the sense that all sins deserve God's judgment, but I don't think it is true that all sins are of equal weight. We know this because of things like Jesus's words to the cities where His works had been displayed without repentance. He told them that "it will be more bearable on the day of judgment" for the cities that would have repented had His works been done there (Matthew 11:20-24). And John writes about sins that lead to death and sins that don't lead to death (1 John 5:16-17). Thus, it would appear that there are levels of judgment and, therefore, levels of sin.
We're pretty sure these days that we know what "bad sin" and "not so bad sin" is. "Bad sin" would be things like homosexual behavior, adultery, fornication, you know, sexual sin. It would be things like rape and murder, theft, mayhem, certainly idolatry, oh, and that unforgivable one ... what was it? ... oh, yeah, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, whatever that means. No, no, we've got this one. We're pretty clear on this.
There are several places in the Bible that actually make lists of standardized sins. Here are a few examples:
They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:29-32).
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
And in these lists we can see reflected our own abhorrence to some things. There's that whole "murder" problem, and "haters of God" is surely a bad thing. Oh, "inventors of evil" seem to abound, as does the giving of approval to those who practice evil. We already know that the sexually immoral and idolaters and adulterers and those who practice homosexuality are in deep trouble with God. And those who love money, who are unholy and heartless, who are brutal, treacherous, and "swollen with conceit" (What a descriptive phrase!) are surely among the most sinful.
I would submit, however, that there is another list of sins that we're happy to give a pass on. Oh, sure, maybe those things are sinful, but there's no need to call them to anyone's attention, no need to make a big deal about them, certainly no need to mention them in a blog. Or is there?
America, for instance, almost runs on covetousness and greed. They are practically our motto, so they can't be that bad, can they? And while God seems to think that "disobedient to parents" is a bad thing, we often think of it as noble and right, since parents are not perfect and children tend, in today's society, to be viewed as wise. Our favorite comedies include insolence and foolishness. Hey, our entire prayer chain basically works on a gossip-and-slander method. I mean, it's not gossip if we're just sharing it as a prayer request for someone, is it? And, look, we're pretty sure that "lovers of self" is in there by accident. I mean, how can you love others as yourself if you don't first love yourself? Loving self is "the greatest love of all", they tell us.
I am concerned. I'm concerned that in seeing the obvious we miss the more deleterious. While seeing the clearly wrong we miss the acceptable wrong. We let that leaven in, sometimes intentionally, not realizing that we're in danger of leavening the whole lump. It ought to concern us, then, when we read about God's perspective on the greedy, the gossip, those who dishonor their parents, and those who love pleasure. "We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things" (Romans 2:2). "The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9). "Avoid such people" (2 Timothy 3:5). While you're hastening to point fingers at the homosexual offenders, be careful it's not you who is missing the log in your own eye.