Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Big Four

Is there a heirarchy for sin? Is any one sin worse than any other sin?

We talked about this on the phone. Some sins are certainly worse than others, but if we were to come up with a "top ten" list of sins, that might be a little tough because the way the Bible describes "worse" sins are different in each case.

Hardening of one's heart: So, we have blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12, Mark 4). That's a biggie, because it says that we won't be forgiven it, with the implication being, even if we don't repent. The sin itself is claiming that a clear manifestation of God's mercy and power-- such as casting out demons-- is not from God, but evil. The real sin is plainly seeing God's work and finding any excuse to deny it because of disliking the truth behind it. Really, this sin is then very similar to the sin described in Hebrew 6, which also say that there is no way to repent from: To have received of God's grace, His Spirit, His church, His power etc, from Jesus and then denying Jesus despite obtaining all the blessings. This could be summarized as "hardening of one's heart" sins. Denying God in the face of evidence and mercy. I think that this is the same sin mentioned in Luke 10 when Capernum and other cities will be punished worse than Sodom because Sodom never got the opporunity to see such works of God as the cities that Jesus and the apostles ministered in. Today, irrational atheists, ex-Christians who attack Jesus, and Charismatic bashers could fall under this category

Oppressing the poor: This is a biggie because even the angels, the nations and the godless get judged for this. The whole of judgment day may be based on this issue. Sodom was destroyed on this issue. Any of the people of God who forget to pay fair wages or to give their excess to the needy will be destroyed personally by God (Psalm 82, Matthew 25, Ezekiel 16, Exodus 22:22-23; James 5:1-5; Luke 16) Note that no where in the Bible do unbelievers get judged for worshiping the wrong god-- only believers do. But everyone-- people of God, gentiles, ungodly nations, the "gods" in heaven-- get judged by God for oppressing the poor. It may not seem like it sometimes, but just wait a bit and you will see each person, each nation, each spirit who attempts to destroy or steal from the needy, especially the innocent will be completely demoralized and torn apart personally by God (Psalm 73; Psalm 37). So this is significant because of the frequency of its mentioned, it's thoroughness because of context, and God's personal action. If one repents, one can obtain forgiveness from God, but it is difficult to repent if you have a lot of possessions, Jesus says (Mark 10). Today, pretty much anyone in the upper and middle class in the West fits into this, with the exception of the few that actively participate in assiting the poor.

3. Causing others to sin-- This is major because Jesus says it carries such an extreme penalty. I think it is related to oppressing the poor, actually. Jesus and Paul says that it is those who are weak brothers who would be easy to cause to fall away from the faith. And these who fall are in trouble, but those who cause them to fall, Jesus says, "You see this two ton millstone? Just imagine it chained around your neck. Then someone takes you to the middle of the roaring ocean and drops you into the deepest part of the sea. Still alive. Well if you cause a brother to fall away from the faith, your punishment will be worse than that." Ouch. That's mark 9 and Matthew 18. Paul's take on this is Romans 14-15. To cause someone to "stumble" means to cause them to fall from the faith, either through causing them to disbelieve in God or by causing them to sin to such a degee that they feel they can't come to God. So hypocritical Christians would be on this list, as well as drug dealers and just about anyone who says, "Go ahead, just once can't hurt you.

4. Hypocrisy-- This is pretty much the last of the "big four" for really nasty sins. Jesus targets this one in a big way. Hypocrisy was a Greek word used for actors. So it is people who play a part, but it isn't their reality. Jesus uses it for people who claim to love God, but doesn't produce the works of God. And he distinguishes "insignificant" acts for God, like tithing, from doing justice and mercy for others, which are significant matters. Annais and Saphira were also hypocrites because they were lying to the church and to God Himself that they had done some good deed when, in reality, they did not You can read the scoop on hypocrisy in Matthew 23 and Acts 5. The big deal about hypocrisy is, like hardness of heart, one doesn't often repent of it. Mostly because we lie to ourselves as much as we lie to others.

Other sins that are pretty much a problem unless we repent are these:
Rejection of God, rebellion against authorities, rejection of God's people, hostility, arrogance, grabbing for position or honor, idolatry, greed, drunkenness/drug abuse, orgies, sexual immorality, adultery, unfaithfulness, hatred, gossip.

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