Keith Hunt - Are There Levels of Sin? Restitution of All
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Are There Levels of Sin?

Compiled and Answered


                         by Keith Hunt

    

    Reader:

    My understanding is that there is no degree of sin to God
under NT - that sin is sin and the penalty is the same to God no
matter what the sin is. In other words, God tolerates no sin and
it is all odious to Him, no matter what it is. In other words,
there is no such thing as a  little white lie  to God - it is a
lie (a  little  lie or a  big  lie is still a lie to God).

    Answer:

    Okay, I ve meditated on what you say. We are on common ground
on a number of things. Let me first address the  punishment 
issue.
    Yes, you understand that punishment while in the flesh and
God s laws can and do vary. We both understand that is made quite
plain under the OT. There were degrees of punishment. So now we
need to look at in the light of  punishment  in relation to
salvation or the punishment for not accepting salvation. We shall
see there is no degrees  in that.
    Those to be cast into the lake of fire, to face the second
death, will be there because they wilfully refused to repent,
would not accept the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives,
chose to not choose life, chose to not obey the will of God.
Someone may be there facing the second death, and they may have
lived a pretty  good  life in human terms, they maybe only lied a
few times, maybe used God s name in vain in their talking, and
maybe lusted a little after the opposite sex, BUT they refused to
let the Holy Spirit lead them to conversion. They just would not
do the will of God. They will still face the lake of fire. Then
you may have someone who not only did all the above sins, but was
literally sexually immoral, held up stores and stole money, and
ended up killing a number of people. They also did not repent,
and so face the lake of fire. You may also have someone like
Hitler there, who also would not repent, and will be cast into
the fire.
    
    They have all sinned and would not repent, they have all come
under the penalty of the law - death. This ultimate spiritual
penalty has no degrees, it is the SAME for all UNrepentant
sinners. It is the same degree of punishment - death in the lake
of fire.
    There is no degree of punishment as such in the second death.
It is death for all in the lake of fire, who will not repent.

    Now, the subject of degrees of sin. Yes, you are correct on
one side, sin is sin. It is written that all unrighteous is sin
(1 John 5) and we know what righteousness is from Ps 119:172. God
s commandments are righteousness. So if we take only the name of
God in vain in our talking (as you know millions do each day in
our lands) or if we murder someone, we have sinned. And in that
spiritual life or death matter, in God's eyes we are sinners and
until we come to a repentant attitude of mind and conversion,
we are heading for the lake of fire. So yes, sin is sin to God
(little  white  lie or murder) and all sinners come under the one
death sentence, one degree of punishment, the lake of fire.

    But now, does God view sins in degrees? Does His nature and
character as He lives now, as He looks at sin on this earth done
by flesh and blood, manifest itself in a way we would call  sins
of degrees.  Does God in other words in His nature hate one sin
above another sin? Yes He does ! And I ll try now to prove that
to you.

    It is written we are made in the image of God, after His
likeness. Many of our parts in the way we were created are taken
from the way our heavenly Father is Himself. I know you know God
has EMOTIONS very much like ours. This is all shown to us through
the OT especially, as God dealt with people like Abraham, Moses,
and others.
    Okay, you have two children we shall say. Both teenagers. You
set a law down that on Saturday night they are to be in by 11:30
p.m. If they are not they are grounded for a week. One Saturday
evening one teen does not get in till 12:15 a.m. The excuse, well
they drank too much wine at a friends and forgot the time.
    You are upset, they sinned so to speak, missed the mark you
set. So you ground them for a week, but it was not a HUGE sin as
such.
    Now, the next week your other teen does not get in on
Saturday night until 3 a.m in the morning. At 4 a.m. the police
come knocking. You find out they broke into a home, pushed an old
woman to the ground, and stole her money and jewelry. They broke
your law, they sinned against you. They are going to be grounded
for a week alright (and whatever the police do to them).....BUT
the sin they did.....boy, are you some upset, angry, just
disgusted, I mean it is an abominable sin to your mind and to
your emotions and to your character.


    Ah, do you see how there can be degrees of sin? And we are
made in God s image after His likeness. There are some sins that
to God and His emotions (which are always perfect, not like ours
which are often not) and His character are just abominations. He
clearly tells us so in the OT with such words as  this is an
abomination to the Lord your God  and  which the Lord your God
HATES.  Yes, God hates all sins, for any sin that people will not
repent of will put them into the lake of fire. It is written God
wants ALL to be saved and to come to repentance. He would like
every single person who has ever lived to be in His Kingdom. So,
yes, He hates sin, any sin, the little white lie or rape or
murder; for all of them will put people into the lake of fire, if
they don t come to conversion.
    But God also HATES in a way that is above general hate. He
hates as you do the sin of your first teen in the above example,
but He hates even more, as you do, the sin of your second teen in
the example above.

    Here is a fine example of what I m saying. Turn to Prov.6 and
read verses 16-19. God, hates all sin (because of what any sin
unrepented of can do) but He as a DEGREE OF HATE above the
general hate of sin per se. How can I put it in simple langauge.
He hates hates, a double degree of hate for certain sins that are
then greater sins than other sins (remember John 19 we talked
about already), BECAUSE they have more wicked consequences. Look
at the 7 things God hates hates, and are to him an abomination. 
You can meditate upon them and see how those sins can effect so
many others. So there are degrees of sins, that just get the
righteous character and emotions of God REALLY FIRED UP. You know
it is a sin to take God s name in vain, to bow down in front of
an idol and think it is God and not that God is God, but those
sins are not listed among the 7 that God hates hates and are an
abomination to Him.
    Other verses in the books of Moses (first five books) show us
that there are other sins that God says are to Him "an
abomination" such as Homosexuality and Lesbianism,               

                             

    So indeed, even to the mind of God there are degrees of sin,
and some to Him are just....well the example I gave you of the
two teens above should help you get the picture. And God is like
us, we are like God. We are all part of His Family. We also
can have His righteous and perfect emotions and character.

    I d like to give you one more example, of the degrees of sin,
and how God even deals with them, admitting some sins are more
hateful and an abomination than others.

    Remember how Jesus cleansed the Temple? They were sinning by
merchandising God's house. Making God s house into a profitable
business house, ripping people off, taking advantage of people
etc. Now, stop and think a moment. Do you think there were NO
OTHER people OUTSIDE the Temple, in other parts of Jerusalem,
also selling animals for sacrifice in the Temple. Sure there was.
    Were some of them ripping people off? Probably so indeed, you
know what human nature is like I m sure.
    Did Jesus ever correct them? Maybe, we are not told, but
certainly in all His teachings I'm sure He did(John said if all
the things Jesus said and did were written, the world would not
be large enough to contain the books, figure of speech no doubt,
but we understand what he was saying), but we have not been told
that He turned over their tables and drove them away. The sin
being practiced in the Temple was an abomination sin to the
character and  emotions of God (Jesus was God in the flesh).
    He got so righteously angry over people sinning such a sin
WITHIN the very Temple of God, that....well you know what He did.
It was one of the 7 plus sins (abomination) God hates above hate
of sin in general. It certainly was a sin of "a heart that
devises wicked imaginations" at least.
    
     
     I would like to finish this by quoting from the Church of
God Seventh Day publication   "The Bible Advocate" (April 1998)
under the heading: Are there levels of sin, one greater than
another? 
     This appeared in their "Question and Answer" section.

     Quote: 
     The right answer to this question can help us avoid piling
sin upon sin.
       People occasionally claim that all sins are the same in
God's sight, based upon texts like Matthew 5:21-32. But lust does
not equal adultery in every respect. Both are sins, but there is
a difference in sins. Being angry without good cause (little
sin?) doesn't mean I should proceed with murder (big sin!).
       All sins are the same in that they violate the revealed
will of God, generating real guilt. Both lust and adultery
demonstrate our fallen condition, and we are accountable to a
holy God for every kind of wrong. All sins lead to death, unless
confessed and forgiven. In this sense all sins are equal.
       For purposes beyond mere guilt, however, the Bible does
classify sins. They come in all sizes and are not equal in
seriousness or impact. Some sins deserve greater punishment than
others (Luke 12:47, 48).   
       There are sins of ignorance (Lev.4:2, etc.). Though still
sins, they were punished less severely than others. Willful
ignorance (2 Peter 3:5a) is itself a sin (Romans 1:8ff). 
       There are sins outside the body and sins against the body
(1 Cor.6:18). There are sins of commission and sins of omission
(James 4:17).
       There is the sins that easily besets us (Heb.12:1): human
weakness. The personal failings that slip up on us in life are
not counted against us as we walk by faith in the Savior. 
       There are willful sins (Heb.10:26) or presumptuous sins,
called the great transgression (Ps.19:13). Wrong done continually
with consent and awareness should bring sober thought about one's
salvation. This is what is meant by "a sin unto death, and sins
not unto death" (1 John 5:16).
       The most important distinction among sins is between
forgiven and unforgiven sins. All sins are forgivable
(Mat.12:31a) through faith in Christ (Eph.1:7; 1 John 1:9)
except one (Mat.12:31b). Whatever it is, you are probably not
guilty of the unforgivable sin if you desire God's grace and
forgiveness. (Calvin Burrell).

                         .........................

     Written February 2000

     All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied,
published, e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr.
Hunt trusts nothing will be changed without his consent.

 
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