Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Measurement of Sin

The Measurement of Sin


And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3

There is a common misunderstanding about sin.  A Biblical myth if you will that has been spread by those that want to even the playing field of sin.  That myth is that all sins are equal in God’s eyes.  Friend, nothing is further from the truth.
Do we really believe that our perfect and just God would look upon a child who steals a cookie from the cookie jar in the same way that He would a murderer?  Could God possibly see the serial killer as the same as the one that doesn’t repay a debt?  It is nonsense, but yet, because we’re often taught things for such a long time that we accept them as truth, we must drive them out with the truth, God’s Word.

In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount, and teaching the listeners about judging each other’s sins.  He says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The plank and the speck represent sin.  Notice that Jesus found the plank to be an obstruction to helping someone else with a smaller, speck, of a problem.  He clearly makes a difference in the size of the problem from a plank to a speck. 

Lest you think we’ve misinterpreted Jesus’ words, let’s move on to Matthew 23:23-24 where Jesus speaks to the Scribes and Pharisees, the religiously elite of their time.  He says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Again, the analogy of a gnat and a camel shows quite a difference in size.  But Jesus goes further to say that they have neglected the “weightier” matters of the law, which are justice, mercy, and faith.  While they paid their tithes, the Scribes and Pharisees were not giving the spiritual offerings to each other of justice, mercy, and faith. They have strained out the tiny gnat, yet swallowed a whole camel!

If we move on to John 19, Jesus is standing before Pilate being accused by those that wanted Him dead.  Pilate is questioning Jesus as to who He is and Jesus does not answer.  Pilate then explains to Jesus that he has the power to free Him, or crucify Him.  But Jesus responds in John 19:11 by saying “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”  The one that delivered Jesus to Pilate had the “greater sin”.  Jesus clearly made a distinction in sins here.
Consider this.  If all sins were equal, wouldn’t all punishments be equal as well?  The entire book of Leviticus, giving the old laws of God, pronounces different punishments on everything from stealing to murder.  In Proverbs 6:16 we read the sins that God hates.  The verse says “There are six things the Lord hates— no, seven things he detests” The list isn’t a complete listing of sins, but of seven specific sins.

So how can we judge one another’s sins?  What is the formula that God uses to determine which sin is greater?  Search the Bible from cover to cover and you will not find it.  The magnitude of a sin has much to do with who commits it.  As we grow in wisdom of God’s word we also grow in responsibility. 
Luke 12:47-48 says “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.  We do not have a ruler to measure a person’s maturity in Christ, and therefore, have no means by which to judge their sins. 

Yet, we are to correct one another as a means of sanctification.  To leave a brother or sister uncorrected to continue in their sins is also a sin.  Hebrews 13:17 says Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.  2 Timothy 4:2 also says Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”  Those who are Christian leaders, either by official position or by the respect of others, have the responsibility to give instruction to our Christian brothers and sisters.  But we do not have authority to pronounce judgment!  Correction builds up - but judgment tears down.  We are told in Colossians 4:6 to Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt”.
Yet there is one way in which all sins are equal.  All do lead to death.  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus’ salvation is available to all – from the serial killer to the cookie stealer.  All receive Him into their hearts in the same way, and with the same faith and confidence are redeemed from their sins.  Unconfessed sin leads to hell. Forgiveness leads to heaven.  The only unpardonable sin, the greatest sin of all, is the sin of unbelief.

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