Are All Sins the Same?

If you’ve been in the church for very long you’ve probably heard, “All sins are the same!” Yes, there are some ways all sins are the same:

  • The Greek word for sin is hamartanō,  which is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” All sins are the same in that they’re examples of “missing the mark,” or missing the standard set by God’s holy, perfect law. That’s why 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
  • All sins are the same in terms of being destructive, an offense to God, and demanding death as a punishment. Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.”
  • Most importantly: all sins are the same in that they condemn us to hell and can only be forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ.

Aside from these ways all sins are the same, there are problems associated with making this well-known statement.

Practical Consequences to Saying All Sins Are the Same

Soon after I became a Christian I committed a sin that had previously characterized my life for years. Although the sin didn’t bother me earlier, now that I was a believer, I was greatly convicted. I went to an older Christian friend for counsel. He could’ve said something along the lines of:

“Yes, this is sin and it’s wonderful that you’re broken up over it. God’s desire is for us to have victory over unbroken patterns of sin. You need to repent and cry out to God for His grace to help you overcome this life-dominating struggle.”

Instead, he “encouraged” me by saying: Continue reading “Are All Sins the Same?”

Are children punished for the sins of their parents? – Part I

On Sunday mornings we’ve been working our way through 2 Samuel and recently I covered chapter 21, verses 1-14. I’d say it’s one of the most difficult stories in the Old Testament, not because it’s hard to understand, but because of some of the questions that arise. Let me briefly summarize the story…

When Israel entered the Promised Land back, they were supposed to destroy all the wicked inhabitants who hadn’t repented for over four centuries. The Gibeonites were terrified of being executed, so they deceived the Israelites into thinking they weren’t really from Canaan, but from some land far away. Without consulting with God first Israel entered into a covenant with them and were unable to attack them without incurring the wrath of God. You can read the whole story in Joshua 9.

In 2 Samuel 21, Israel’s experiencing a terrible famine. David inquires of God and finds out it’s because Saul slaughtered many of the Gibeonites years earlier. To atone for Saul’s sins, the Gibeonites want to execute seven of Saul’s descendants. David provides the men, they’re executed and the famine ends.

During the week as I study, I accumulate up 5 or 6,000 words for my sermons, which I have to shave down to 4,000 to keep my sermons to 45 minutes. As a result, there are plenty of notes I end up excluding that I’d like to include. Some of the notes include further clarification, but they’re excluded because of their lack of application or technical nature. Obviously it’s very subjective determining what to remove, which is why I pray so many times throughout the week that God lets me know exactly what to say.

With that said, one of the questions I’ve received related to the descendants of Saul being executed for the sins of their father/grandfather, a seeming contradiction to God’s Word that He won’t punish children for the sins of their parents (Deut 24:16, 2 Chr 25:4). Here’s what I would have said if I could’ve gotten away with a two-hour sermon…

The Gibeonites were pagans and not bound by God’s law. For example, they also left the bodies hanging over night; actually, they left them hanging overnight for approximately four-to-six months. This completely contradicted God’s Word in Deut 21:22-23 If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God. The interesting thing is, God lifted the famine AFTER the men hung on the tree, showing He didn’t disapprove of the Gibeonites’ actions.

The point is God let the Gibeonites disobey His law because they were pagans who weren’t bound by it. This could be why they were able to put children to death for the sins of their father even though God’s law forbade it.

We’ll look at this in more detail in my next blog!

Should we rejoice over Osama Bin Laden being killed?

Earlier this week Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Considering the wickedness he’d orchestrated in his lifetime, it’s not hard to see why strong emotions were evoked from so many people. An interesting question I saw discussed frequently on Facebook related to how Christians should feel about this man’s passing; in particular, should they rejoice over it? Let’s see what the Word says:

  • Mat 5:44 Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (also Luke 6:27, 28)
  • Pro 24:17, 18 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him.
  • Ezek 33:11 “As I live” says the Lord GOD, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (also 18:23, 32)

If God doesn’t rejoice over the death of the wicked, and we’re to be like God, then how can we rejoice over Osama Bin Laden being killed?

In Rev 18:20 an angel exhorts Christians to rejoice over the destruction of evil Babylon. This almost looks like Christians are being encouraged to rejoice over the deaths of the wicked, but John MacArthur says they’re “to rejoice not over the deaths of those doomed to eternal hell, but because God’s righteousness and justice will have prevailed.”

The horrors and torments of hell are so unimaginable we shouldn’t even rejoice over our greatest enemy experiencing it. To be like God is to not take pleasure or joy from the suffering of others, even those we feel deserve it. We can rejoice over the manifestation of God’s justice and judgment though, and in seeing His righteousness prevail; for my part I am thankful to have seen those revealed from the Lord this week.