50 Shades of Sin

This posting will no doubt cause some problems, but since being in trouble is a quite natural state for me then I think we are ok.  Of course the title caught your attention, but there is real meaning in this title.  I want to help clear up a common misconception among Christians I’ve met over the years.  The misconception I’m talking about is simply this – “All sin is alike.  Sin is sin, and there is no distinction.”

Sounds good.  Even feels good.  But, I’m afraid it’s not quite that simple.

The Christians I’ve discussed this with often use Romans 3:23 and 6:23 as their basis for the conjecture that all sin is alike.  Romans 3:23 states pretty clearly “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”, and Romans 6:23 puts the nail in the coffin with “For the wages of sin is death…”.  From this scripture we draw the simple conclusion that all sin is the same.

But, is that assumption accurate?

When Jesus was talking with Pilate, he said something very interesting.  Pilate had just spoken the following words to Christ (paraphrased): “Don’t you know I have the power to crucify you, or to set you free?”  To which Jesus replied (paraphrased): “You would have no power over me at all if it wasn’t given to you from above.  Therefore, the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Greater sin…. hmmmmm

So, there is a lesser sin, and a greater sin.  The lesser sin belonged to Pilate who, though he judged Jesus to be an innocent man, condemned Him to death.  And, the greater sin belongs to Judas and the religious leaders who delivered Jesus to the Roman authorities to be judged.

Sounds like there might be a distinction in sins.

Of course, if this were the only reference we might be on thin ice, but hold it, I think there might be more.

In Luke 12 we find the following passage spoken by Christ:

47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Here we have a judgment based on what a person knows and does.  Although the word sin is not used, we could very well understand that if a person is to be punished for things they did, or did not do, it could be considered sin.  In this case if a person did not know and committed things (read sin) worthy of stripes, he would be beat with few stripes.  But, if a person did know and did not do as he was told or directed, would be beat with many stripes.

While it is easy and convenient to label all sins as the same, it is certainly beneficial that our civil law does not do the same.  When a person dies at the hands of another, the law draws a fine line between different possible judgments on the perpetrator or accused.  This could be a case of accidental death or manslaughter.  If could be a case of first-degree murder, or it could be second or third degree.  Does it matter?  Yes, it does.  For the law makes a clear distinction between accidental death, premeditated murder, and non-premeditated murder.  In fact, so does the Mosaic law laid down over 3,000 years ago.

So, it should not be surprising to know God draws a distinction between types of sin.  According to the example in Luke 12 knowledge plays a large part.

Paul makes some very interesting observations about sin in the book of Romans chapter 14.  In fact, it might be called controversial.  In summary, chapter 14 of Romans lays out some interesting concepts about personal sin and responsibility.  Paul says with some clarity in verse 14 that he finds nothing ‘unclean’ of itself.  However, he doesn’t stop there.  Much of what is deemed clean or unclean is determined by our conscience and what others around us think.  Paul goes as far to say that if he did something that offended someone else he would not do it again.  Of course, we cannot please everyone, or act in a way that pleases everyone, but Paul does make a strong argument that we should at least try.

We clearly understand the parables Jesus taught regarding rewards.  But, if rewards are placed on different levels certainly punishments would also be on different levels.  And this is just.  For it would be a miscarriage of justice to punish someone who nursed sick patients all their life the same as Hitler or a serial killer.

If this is true, then why do we hold to the misconception that all sin is the same?  I believe it is because we like things to be simple.  Not being in the position of God it is simply too complicated to try and determine all the different types of sins and what level of punishment they might deserve.  Much easier to say simply, “All sin is alike!” and be done with it.  Only one slight problem with that notion – it is not correct.  All sins are not the same.

There are sins that are against God alone.  There are sins against others.  There are sins against ourselves.  There are sins that mostly affect ourselves, and there are sins that mostly affect others.  There are sins of commission, and sins of omission.  There are sins of the mind, and sins of the body.  There are sins that are forgiven and sins that are yet unforgiven.  There are intentional sins, and unintentional sins.  There are public sins, and private sins.

Now before the task force is released against me to silence my writings I will be the first to admit – No sin, no matter how small, is good.  They are all bad.  And, all sin, if left unforgiven, leads to death.  However, with that said, I think I can also say with some certainty, there are least 50 shades of sin, if not more.


One Response to “50 Shades of Sin”

  1. Bea McGuire Says:

    Wow! This blog was great and gives one a lot to ponder! You are so right….it’s so easy to “lump” all sin together but this definitely makes one stop and think. Thank you for this insight. I won’t forget it!! Blessings…..

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