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Degrees of Sin

DSCF1469Is all sin alike in God’s eyes?

Our last conversation about God’s words to Moses—that, to our ear, can sound so self-contradictory (Exodus 34:5-7)— have raised a question about degrees of sin.

Seems to me that this lingering thought might help us  reflect on the second half of an ancient quote that seems so unfair in its implications for children. Why would God impose on children and grandchildren the consequences of parental wrongs, especially when the Bible makes it so clear that we are accountable for our own decisions rather than for those of our parents? (Ezekiel 18:20-21)

Yet the idea of a gracious and compassionate God who insists on punishing even the “smallest” sin, and passing the consequences along to our heirs, seems to show up in the first pages of the Bible.

DSC01496Eating a piece of food with hopes of being more like God, especially under the mitigating circumstances of childlike innocence, ignorance, and the misleading influence of an evil “adult,” would seem like a small sin.

But all of us have suffered the consequences. None of our relatives have escaped the ongoing results of a simple act of distrust in the God who was gracious enough to create us into his world; good enough to want us to be free enough to have a chance to trust him; merciful enough to chase us down in our guilt and fear; compassionate enough to not immediately return us to dust; patient enough to remain with us while bearing the murderous consequences of our choices; faithful enough to not let us live forever in our fallen state, and true enough to his own goodness and grace have a plan of making sure that every sin would be eventually and fully judged in the terrible love of his own Son’s suffering and sacrifice.

In the middle of the chaos that followed a seemingly small act of distrust, we’re also left with the realism that— as big as a little matter can be, we live in a world of big sins and little sins   Who will deny that, even in Heaven’s eyes,  it’s worse to take a life than to want to kill? Who can doubt that God would agree with us that robbing a bank is worse than envying those who are born into more money than we could ever earn?

P1030017Even the law of Moses made it clear, that some sins were to be regarded as capital offenses while others were not. Yet who in the days of Moses could have explained God’s reasons for making certain ritual offenses deserving of the death penalty, while at the same time so reasonably and mercifully naming safe towns for those who killed by accident?

Seems to me that, on one hand, lingering generational consequences say something about the wisdom of a designer who understands far better than we do why the toxic intermingling of heredity, experience, and personal choice, is better than allowing us to think that we are not only free from the influence of our parent’s sin—but also free to live as we please without effect on the little ones who inherit our blood and money.

So is God gracious and merciful—  or true enough to himself to require every sin not only to be judged but to have lingering consequences that… he alone knows how to resolve? Are all sins alike– and different?

Are we playing games by saying “yes” to all? What if we assume that because we have not committed murder, we are better in God’s eyes than one who has?


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51 Responses to “Degrees of Sin”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    I think the answer to this question is found in the Laws God gave to Moses.

    Each violation carried with it different punishment, a clue I think to how God sees sin.

    Any violation of the law is still a violation.
    Any sin is still a sin.

    Is murder worse than theft? Each crime is born from a heart that is self serving and unconcerned about the victim.

    Such a heart is in trouble being aligned with God’s nature and is separated from God’s indwelt Spirit, yet God remains the judge and will either exact punishment or forgiveness as He sees fits the occasion.

    Another clue to this riddle is seen when King David is confronted concerning his adultery and what looks like a guarantee of the death of Uriah. Not really murder, but one could see it that way.

    Punishment from God came in the form of death to the unborn child from the union of David and Bathsheba. Yet this child did nothing to deserve death.

    God still had a use for David and so David’s life was spared, though he had plenty of trouble ahead to contend with.

    On a side thought where was God concerning Uriah? He could have thwarted David’s plans and kept Uriah alive, but didn’t. He let David’s plan play out, resulting in the death of Uriah and an unborn child as well.

    One could question the grace and mercy of God in that thought, but we also read where God severely punished the people of Israel for simply murmuring against God and His actions.

    The words fear and reverence comes to mind. We simply can’t discuss God as if He were the guy next door and pick apart His decisions in an attempt for them to align with our sense of justice.

    Yes some sins are worse than others, as some crimes are worse than others. Yet in God’s judgment everyone must answer for any sin whether small or large, just like in this life a small crime is still a crime.

    Just remember Jesus took *all* sin upon Himself, the worst and the least nailed there to the cross for every offender.

    That settles the score with God, but the effects of those sins may take generations to heal.


  2. tracey5tgbtg says:

    I agree that not all sin is alike. I believe that God sees the heart and the depth of the evil in regards to the actions, not just the actions alone. That is something we can’t see in any heart but our own.

    I have to say that I question whether, in God’s eyes, it is worse to take a life than to want to kill. Matthew 5:21-22. I also don’t fully believe that God would agree that it is worse to rob a bank than to envy those with money. Once again God sees the heart and an envious heart is an evil thing.

    Of course, I can’t speak with certainty on what God is thinking, but neither can anyone else. I only see that Jesus reserved His harshest criticism for those who followed the law perfectly but whose hearts were not right.

  3. Bill says:

    Good Morning Mart, Steve, and All!

    This question (“Is all sin alike in God’s eyes?”) is terrific to ponder over a few pints of ale in a rambunctious pub filled with earnest seekers (or any first-year seminary classroom). But it’s a question akin to “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” or “Can God make a rock so big that even He can’t lift it?”

    In other words, your question, Mart, is unanswerable — and, therefore, perilously close to a waste of time. Frankly, in the grand scheme, who cares what our answers are to this question?

    Steve is incredibly passionate and intelligent. And I always dig his comments. But he’s not God. I could wax eloquent on this topic, most assuredly mention love too many times and risk the ire of those who will debate what love is or isn’t. But I’m not God, either.

    Others here are steeped in the Bible (from various denominational traditions) and could quote chapter and verse to prove one way or another (or both ways!) to answer your question. But they’re not God, either.

    In the end, after we’ve kicked around this topic, debated it to the point of getting heated with each other, what will we have accomplished? Greater enlightenment? Insight? Definitive answers?


    Franciscan priest Richard Rohr (considered to be one of the leading Catholic thinkers in America) wisely calls his organization the Center for Action and Contemplation. Rohr recognizes the need for action amidst all the rhetorical contemplation.

    For me, the question is not, “Is all sin alike in God’s eyes?” It’s “How can I refrain from sinning at all?” Or, since that’s not possible, “Would You show me how to be a blessing to others so that I demonstrate that You exist through my words and deeds?”

    I don’t really want to know which sins are “lesser” or “greater” in God’s eyes. What’s the point of that — so I can see which ones I can get away with without too-severe punishment? What I want to know is this:

    “Where are those who need the love of Jesus the most, and will You equip me to answer their plea for help, be it spiritual or material?”

    Love to all,


  4. Mart De Haan says:

    Good morning, Bill,
    I think you make good points. Thanks for weighing in. Am with your conclusion and question. Who are we to see through God’s eyes?

    Am thinking though that whether we see how all sin is— and is not alike to God can make a real difference– that has a bearing on our love and concern for others.

    i.e. If, without clarification, we say that “all sin is the same to God”– couldn’t others rightly think that our view of God doesn’t fit the world as we know it? Or, if we give to much emphasis on the ways some sins are worse than others”– couldn’t we end up sounding and acting self-righteous?

  5. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    The covenant God makes with first, his chosen people Israel – and now with all peoples through Messiah – is not a set of legal conditions. God’s holy character shines through the guidelines of the Ten Commandments. In them, humanity sees the face of the Creator: smiling upon a just society – frowning upon an unjust society. Yet, mercy is clearly God’s overriding action among all creation. It is humans, not God, who revel in unmerciful behavior. Scripture assures us God hates it.

    It seems to me Psalm 1 is a key to so-called “Degrees of Sin.” Just as Ezekiel 18:25, 26, 27, 28 explains how a righteous person turning to sin faces consequences; and an unrighteous person turning toward God with repentance will be delivered – so Psalm 1 shows the progression from:
    1) Association with
    2) Meeting with
    3) Establishment with
    the way of the wicked.

    Psalm 1:6 is a key to the question of degrees of sin: “…for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” God’s justice is finely tuned to the long-term intentions of our hearts. If we intend to keep God’s ways, yet are tempted and give in over and over again – God forgives. If we plot and plan to act wickedly over time – to the extent that our conscience is burned out and falls silent, God treats us like “chaff that the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:4)

    Those who earnestly seek God’s way and fail are separate from those who have soundly and permanently evil intentions, as I see it. This is King Ahab compared to King Hezekiah — Pharaoh of Egypt compared to King Cyrus of Persia.


  6. Bill says:

    Hi Mart,

    As you know, I like to draw upon Interfaith examples from time to time — Zen, for instance.

    Koans, those inscrutable questions Zen teachers ask their students (like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”) are designed to test a student’s ability to avoid being forced to make a choice between two opposite answers, two opposites that are contrived.

    For example, one popular koan is “Why does Bodhidharma have no beard?”

    Every drawing of Bodhidharma depicts him as a scowling chap with a beard. So the question, clearly, is an attempt to trap the student. To answer it, the student has to answer without answering. That demonstrates skillful reasoning, being able to make one’s way between contrived opposites without tripping up.

    The reason I bring this up is NOT to promote Zen; it’s to provide folks here with an insight regarding how we can answer the world’s questions, in this case about sin.

    Think of such questions as koans. How can we answer without answering?

    Here’s how: Deflect the question back in the form of another question.

    We can’t answer questions about how God weights sin on His cosmic scales. We can’t be pushed into debating which sins are worse than others. Because we don’t know.

    Those are question-and-answer-question-and-answer rabbit holes that lead nowhere. People are (wittingly or not) setting us up for making a choice between false opposites. In other words, people are ready to pounce with a follow-up “Gotcha!” question no matter what we say.

    We can’t win. It’s an illusion of opposites, a trap.

    To answer the question without answering, we could ask “Why do you want to know?” or “Why is that important to you?”

    Ultimately, I don’t believe people care what God considers sin. I think they already know. What I think people are interested in is if WE are real or not, if we believe what we say we believe, and — most importantly — how can we help them with their pain.

    In other words, people are watching HOW we answer their question, not WHAT we give as answers.

    Therefore, if we answer the question, “What sins are worse [fill in the blank]?” with “How may I help you?” people won’t be able to trap us into making a choice that can’t be chosen (the koan-like illusion of opposites) but they WILL see that we embody the serving love of Jesus. THAT will touch their souls far more eloquently than any intellectual answer ever could.

    So I’m not pooh-poohing your question, Mart. I’m suggesting it’s not important to people. It’s not really what they want to know.

    They want us to answer “Why does Bodhidharma have no beard?” in Christian terms:

    “You need help loading your moving van? I’ll put together a team and we’ll be there in two hours.”


    “You just lost your job? Let me put the word out to our congregation. Let’s see if we can find you one.”


    “Do you have enough to cover rent/mortgage this month? Oh, short by that much. I think we can get people to lend a hand.”


    “Are you doing okay? Is there anything I can do to help?”

    Of course, all of this is just my opinion. I could be all wet. So please take my words with a shaker of salt.


  7. fadingman says:

    I think the way God acts towards us is a balance between grace and the management of His creation working for the best overall good. Some things He does does not make sense to me, but I don’t see the whole picture. As a finite being, I am not capable of seeing the whole picture.

    One thing that doesn’t make sense to me: God hates divorce but allows it (Matthew 19:7-9). There was no punishment in the Law for divorce. Yet, God punished Israel in the wilderness for their grumbling and complaining when there was nothing in the Law that specifically addressed complaining. Obviously, God hates complaining also. But why did He treat one sin different than another?

    Another question in my mind is how Achan’s sin was dealt with (Joshua 7:24-26). Obviously Achan sinned and so was punished. Why was his family punished also? I know some say it happened because they were ‘in’ on it, but even if that were so, it doesn’t explain the animals being punished. Perhaps only Achan’s death should be considered punishment proper, and what happened to his family a side consequence in some way. (As a family, they were ‘one’.) I don’t know. But I *do* know God is good.


  8. Renee Prociw says:

    Good morning, all. I appreciate reading your insights while keeping the comments respectful to everyone.

    For me, all sin is equal. Yes, there are “degrees” or levels of severity to the outward appearance – murder is much more severe than telling a Little White Lie. However, God looks at the inside of each of us and examines our hearts. This is where I find that all sin is equal because to one person a Little White Lie is as great in magnitude as if murder had been committed.

    There was some mention of consequences to generations. If our children who admire us and absorb everything we do and say, see us making small lies, or after realizing that we didn’t pay full price for goods at the store don’t go back to rectify – what does that example show them? Stealing. The consequences can magnify in the coming generations.

    I am reminded of Jesus’ words about the speck and the log in the eyes. That speaks to judging others but I also see it as a call to constant introspection and what I like to call Taking Inventory. I need to look in my own mirror and ask God to reveal any sin that may be hindering my growth and example. Sometimes the little sins are the ones He brings to the surface and requires repentance.

  9. Artle says:

    I kind of agree with Bill’s thinking, but at the same time value any discussion of God’s Word. Why else is it available if not to learn from? All those who seek God do so in different ways and some need more thinking and some less. The focus should always be Jesus, and the way is the straight and narrow path. However, the straight and narrow path starts from many points, some with more thought and some with less.

    My faith grows stronger each time a piece of the puzzle falls into place and knowledge takes the place of the belief that was there before.

  10. poohpity says:

    What is it to me the sin no matter the degree in someone else unless it is to show them the mercy and grace I have received? Do I look down on someone because their sin is different than mine thus promoting my self righteousness? Is it before me that another person will stand on judgement day? Can I, with humility while my brother/sister is stumbling, walk with them hand in hand hopefully to restore them to a right relationship with God with no judgement or condemnation on my part? Do I alienate people from knowing God because I have taken the Holy Spirits’ job of conviction?

    I guess when I really consider degrees of sin it is most times to make myself look better than another so is that what pleases God? If I live under the New Covenant am I still held captive to the law that I have been freed from? Do I even really know what that means? Will God one day say, “depart from me because I never knew you”? Do I gain my self worth from the things I do or by how much faith I have been given?

    Although my outside life may look good to others does my inner life need to be hidden so the truth is kept secret or do they both match? Do I look at sin from Gods’ eyes or mine? If I look at sin from Gods’ eyes do I show others mercy in the same way I have received it?

    If I am continually focused on sin and every step I take (horizontally) do I have the time to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (vertically)?

    Romans 3:19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28

  11. poohpity says:

    I have grown to understand why Jesus spent so much time confronting the religious people in His time and how they continually looked down on others but failed to see the condition of their own hearts. They seemed to focus on degrees of sin and failed to call a sin, a sin because it stopped them from seeing that God was standing before them and how much they needed His forgiveness, blinded by their own self righteousness.

  12. remarutho says:

    Mart & Friends —

    Mart, you ask:

    “Are we playing games by saying ‘yes’ to all? What if we assume that because we have not committed murder, we are better in God’s eyes than one who has?”

    I say there is not one who has not indulged in that unworthy assumption which says: “Since I have not committed murder, I am better off than that poor sod over there.”
    Jesus’ teaching by the parable of the Pharisee praying alongside the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) shows that sort of comparative thinking to be wrong. What a buffoon he is proclaiming, “I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else.”

    Heaven forbid that we should ever be like him in church or anywhere else! Yet, we say or even pray, “At least I have not…(fill in blank).

    Eugene Peterson puts it this way, “If we walk around with our nose in the air, we’re going to end up flat on our face, but if we’re content to be simply ourselves, we will become more than ourselves.”


  13. poohpity says:

    Yes Maru and Hosea 6:6 NIV; Matt 9:12-13 NIV; 1 Tim 1:15-16 NIV if we could just get a hold that the Lord more than anything desires us to know Him and show mercy how simple our lives would be and how many would find comfort, light and a safe place to come to in us as we point them to the One where the example of that mercy came from.

  14. cbrown says:

    The following is from a inmate convicted of murder. “The story of David in the Old Testament was I believe used by God to show me His awesome Love. David had Uriah killed,sent him to the front lines and had the other men pull back, making David guilty of P.M. Murder One. But even though after all David did, God still found him to be a man after God’s heart and by His grace I have been shown the depths of God’s Love.”

  15. royalpalm says:

    Hello, Mart and BTA friends,

    Thanks for the good thoughts here…IMH0 the root of the confusion on this topic is how we define sin. When we read again the account of the fall of man, SIN is rebellion against the authority of God. It usually starts with wanting to be like God and then creating a god who is not subject to God’s sovereignty and authority. This god is usually one’s self.

    To be in control and be independent of God was what Satan desired, as well as Adam and Eve. Isa. 14:13, 14 Gen. 3:4,5. They wanted to trust their intelligence and judgments rather than their Creator’s. And this has been passed on to us. This rebellion is manifested in our thoughts, words, and actions – whether in lies, murder, or coveting. The” degrees of sin” are actually manifestations of that rebellion and can be deceptive because it can be viewed as greater or lesser without addressing the root cause.

    God hates sin. He decreed the worst penalty imaginable – spiritual death (separation from Him), physical death and eternal death. But in His mercy He also paid the penalty for it with the blood of the perfect sacrifice of His Son. God was so particular about every sin that even unintentional sins and sins done in ignorance had to be accounted for during the Day of Atonement.

    We often forget that God created us to have a personal relationship with Him. He is the head who decides what is best and we are the body that is cleansed and nourished by the blood of His Son so we can honor Him and do the work prepared for us. When we act as the head we consciously or unconsciously trespass on God’s Lordship in our lives; we sin.

  16. remarutho says:

    Hello All —

    The Hosea 6:6 especially rings true for me on this one, Pooh. Isaiah brings God’s word that, “…I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts…Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them.” (Isaiah 1:10, 14)

    God calls us rather to, “…learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

    Certainly, God is calling for that simple attitude you mention — no pretense — just seeking the Lord’s face and his favor.


  17. remarutho says:

    My first Isaiah reference is Isaiah 1:11, 14. Sorry.

  18. Artle says:

    Looking at the visiting of iniquity on the children, there is a verse with very similar language that addresses the difference, “for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deut 5:9-10)

    There is a footnote in some versions that indicate that the “thousands of those who love me” could mean thousands of generations. Wow!

  19. swwagner says:

    This is quite confusing to me. Here are a few rambling thoughts.

    Aren’t we born sinners by nature as decedents of Adam and Eve? Aren’t we sinners at the second of conception even though we don’t yet have a brain to think wrong thoughts or a body capable of harming another?

    If it were possible for us to never sin in action or thought, wouldn’t we still be separated from God because we are born sinners? Don’t we need to be transformed into a “new creation” because we are only born of the flesh the first time.

    Doesn’t being “born again” of the spirit requires us to see ourselves without hope before God? How do we come to the point of understanding that we fall short of God’s glory? Doesn’t God point to our sinful actions and thoughts to show us the deeper reality of our fallen natures? Isn’t God more interested in saving our souls than in correcting our actions and thoughts?

    Specific sinful actions and thoughts are named and listed in the Bible as an abomination to God…but isn’t it the soul from which they spring that Christ came to save? We can’t change our actions or thoughts without a “new Life” from Christ.

    God deals with individuals according to their hidden spiritual needs. We only see the outside lives of others and decide that God is unequal or that there are different levels to His punishment.

    In the parable of the workers…those who only worked one hour received the same pay as those who worked all day long. God is not looking at the length or quality of the work…He is looking at the repentant soul that did the work.

    Could we not apply this same truth to sin? Murder has more consequences than stealing a package of gum…but both are a sinful actions from an untransformed soul. God is not willing that any should parish. He alone knows who needs what…or what it will take for each person to see their need of Him.


  20. bubbles says:

    This is not being asked to dispute what anyone has said. Is there Scripture that we use when we say “sin is sin”? Or are we inferring this based on something?
    This discussion has me wondering why we say what we do, not that just we do. I have always heard this also, that sin is sin in the eyes of God. But how do we come to this thought? Thank you.

  21. swwagner says:

    Bubbles…I have wondered the same thing. Where exactly in the Bible do we get the “sin is sin” idea? Also, I am wondering about the verse that gives us the idea that there is only one sin that can not be forgiven? I always thought that the only sin that can not be forgiven is the rejection of Christ as Savior.

  22. poohpity says:

    bubbles, I got the thought from Romans 3:22-23 NIV “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”, all sin makes us sinners and all sin cuts us off from a Holy God. We in our human thinking would like to minimize sin by degrees so we can think better of ourselves because we like to compare.

  23. poohpity says:

    I think it may have to do with ego and pride.

  24. poohpity says:

    Luke 12:10 NIV

  25. oneg2dblu says:

    I beleive the basis of this, sin is sin, may be linked to the thinking if you break one law, it is the same as if you have broken them all.
    So, it does not matter which one you break or which sin you choose.
    Choose to sin, choose to suffer.

  26. oneg2dblu says:

    Where some may get into trouble with their beliefs and the actions that could follow those beliefs, is in believing it does not matter, since all sin is already forgiven them.

    Now, there is a dangerous ego/pride position of salvation no matter what, surely a problem lurking somewhere for those who are looking for a place to freely continue in sin.

    That is just the way that some believe today, because that is how some are taught to believe today.

    If this subject were talkibng about what is right living in God’s eyes, maybe we would have different thoughts about just why we go on sinning today.


  27. poohpity says:

    Salvation is not based on us. Romans 10:9-10 NIV

  28. oneg2dblu says:

    Sheryl… I wish the transformed among us would neither steal the gum or commit the murder, but some live calling themselves transformed and know very well that they are still living as sinners all the same.
    According to some teachers today, we have born again people who are living exactly like those who Christ would say, “Away from me you evil doer.”
    I wonder where they get their thinking and teaching points that there is no difference between how a Christian lives, and how a lost sinner lives.
    To me, there should be a difference.
    Or, is mark of the beast today placed upon the born again person who goes right back to their old ways, thinking they do not need to be any different now, because they are already forgiven?
    To me, deception is the mark of the beast for those who are born again and still living unchanged, and in their prefered darkness.
    Where is the evidence of the renewing of their mind?
    What master does the evil doer really serve?
    “If you love me, you will obey my commands.”
    Jesus Christ
    I would say, “Earth we have a problem….”

  29. swwagner says:

    I agree that I am to act and think differently than those who have not accepted Christ as Savior. Of course I fall short of the ideal everyday…but it is in my heart to be a servant who points others to the Savior.

    I have peace that God forgives my sin daily as I meet with Him in prayer. He brings to my attention the thoughts and actions that need to change…yet, He does not condemn or belittle me in any way. The realizations that the Holy Spirit gently impresses upon my heart and mind bring healing. I am free to tell Him my concerns, my sins, my hopes…and He comforts me with knowledge that He is my keeper and that His mercies are new every morning.

  30. cbrown says:

    1 John 1:8-10

    8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

  31. cbrown says:

    James 2:10-13

    10 For whoever keeps the whole [a]law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the [b]law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy [c]triumphs over judgment.

  32. poohpity says:

    I have yet to meet one person that after salvation never sinned again. Paul was a prime example of the battle we will face until we longer live in this flesh. If God would have allowed Adam/Eve to eat of the tree of life I think we would have been tied to this flesh that is prone to sin for eternity but in His infinite wisdom stopped that from happening so that one day we will be released from the confines of our sin nature when we are given a new body free from sin and eating from the tree of life will be an everyday circumstance in eternity.

    I feel like I am in very good company with those who recognize that sin still exists in the life of a believer. Everyday I am shown mercy by humbly asking God to forgive my sins so I can have a wonderful relationship with Him. If I do not recognize that I still sin then I have been blinded by the father of all lies and the Holy Spirit is not living in me.

  33. bubbles says:

    pooh, thank you. I was thinking of the “no difference” verse, but did not know if I was applying it incorrectly. Knowing that someone else sees it the same way. .

  34. SFDBWV says:

    It’s a sad testimony to CNN’s priority of news, but their top story on the internet this morning is *still* about James DiMaggio the *dead* suspected kidnapper that filled the news until his being shot to death by federal agents in Idaho a couple days ago.

    How is this relevant to our topic? The story in the news this morning is that James followed the same behavior and fate as his father.

    It’s that old adage “an apple don’t fall far from the tree” or “an acorn” whichever saying you like best.

    So here we go; was it that James was just trying to emulate his father or was it that James was locked into behaving like his father genetically, with God’s blessings?

    Here locally in our cemetery are three people buried side by side on the same lot. A mother her son and grandson, all killed themselves at different times. I know the story of each and in this case the grandson killed himself exactly as his father had some 30 years earlier, the grandmother drank lye.

    I have as many of you I suppose lived long enough to see 3 generations of people who all behave the same. Be it lie, steal, cheat, or fall victim to alcoholism.

    If we can understand that we are born with strengths and weaknesses from our parents, then it makes sense we are to inherit the same consequences for the lifestyle we have inherited.

    So we are born with a propensity to sin and not only to sin, but to carry on whatever bad seed we inherited from our parents, with most likely the same consequences.

    Individually we can break this chain, but for the one trait that Adam gave us *death*.

    So are there degrees of sin? Is one worse than the other? The Bible tells us that there is one sin that is *unforgivable*, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I would say that that sin should top the list.

    How it goes in degrees downward from there is an exercise in opinion, as Bill has said, with no concrete answer.

    In Genesis I read that one man escaped death because he *walked* with God, his children did not escape death, but his son lived the longest recorded life on earth.

    Elijah also escaped death, so if we look at the numbers, two men escaped death out of all the others born to women in all of the time earth has been filled with people.

    I would have to say in my opinion that Adams original sin could be said to be second on any list of worse sins; one we all have inherited and one we all pay for with our lives.

    Jesus tells us in Mark 9:42 and in Luke 17:1, 2 that better for a person to have been discarded into the bottom of the sea than to cause another to sin. This rebuke seems rather harsh and could be #3 on my opinion list.

    I think I could go on attempting to categorize sin in degrees of worse to least, but I would rather look at how I may escape punishment for any I have committed intentionally or unintentionally.

    That story goes forth from here.


  35. foreverblessed says:

    The story from here, is it not so that we were freed from being in the state of sin? Romans 8:2,6:7
    Once we were bound to sin, but now we have been set free, by the Cross of Jesus, if we believe in Him.
    Some mentioned 1 John, but in that same letter, it is also stated that if we remain in Jesus sin cannot remain in us: 1 John 3:6,9

    Doesn’t the washing of the feet tell the same thing:
    Jesus says: you are all clean, only your feet have to be washed.
    meaning that we are cleansed from sin, we are not steeped into sin anymore, but while walking on earth, doing good our feet get dirty, we do sin at times, getting impatient at difficult people, getting offended by critical people etc. Besides the sin that we are still struggling with but being busy overcoming it in the power and strength and in faith in Jesus believing that He has overcome evil, and that when we remain in Him we will eventually overcome if we do not give up.

    I guess, giving up on living with Jesus, giving up in overcoming in His strength, would be on the top of the list, if that is what we are busy with now: a list.

    But otherwise, if we remain in Him, Jesus and stay there, no worry, but a blessed life! A happy lot we could be, because we are safe in Him!

  36. foreverblessed says:

    By the way, that picture is terrific! It makes me laugh…

  37. foreverblessed says:

    On the other hand, if that is how unbelievers see us, guidelines of what we may do, and what not, then it makes me sad. Are we a lot that has a list of dont’s and do’s?
    We should lead them to a relation with Jesus, or otherwise should make them jealous to be the same as we are: a happy lot, secure in Jesus!

  38. swwagner says:

    Well said…I too am more interested in the redemption of mankind through Christ (which takes care of the greatest sin of rejecting God) than in trying to categorize sinful actions and thoughts.

    However, since there are passages in the Bible that show people being punished more severely than others, this must be something God wants us to know about. We just don’t understand in full at this time.

    What is the verse that says we become ill and/or die due to sin? Is this a specific punishment for a specific sin or just the natural consequence of a fallen world and our damaged bodies and imperfect DNA?

  39. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    Must agree that we do not understand in full the divine dynamic on judgment. Of course, if you find yourself called to jury duty, you will exercise a form of judgment in the service of the community…

    The passage concerning taking the Holy Communion without commitment to the New Covenant:

    1 Corinthians 11:29-31 (NIV)
    29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

    It seems to me we don’t judge those who do not understand or accept the covenants of God — since it reflects upon the church’s failure to teach and disciple new believers. Clearly a case of “judge not, lest ye be judged.”


  40. poohpity says:

    It’s not just one verse that says we die due to sin it is what I am lead to believe from many. We die from sin a physical death but our spiritual person is raised to life in Christ Jesus. Our spirits are given a new life when we are born again, the main essence of who we are. This body is only a temporary housing while we are here which returns to the ground from which it came. We are given a different body when we go to heaven that is not subject to the chains of sin.

    When I look within and know the thoughts and action that are not pleasing to the Lord, sin, then I am less likely to look down on others for their sin. I am taught that rather than praying for our leaders when I grumble and complain about them that is not pleasing the Lord because after all His has allowed them to be in authority. When I think that things should be better in my life, I am not pleasing the Lord in being grateful for what I do have and where I am that says I do not trust the Lord. When I want things quicker than the Lord can provide I will go into debt to get them again I am not trusting the Lord who told me He will provide all my needs, another sin. When I do not show patience to someone, or be kind even when they may not deserve it, when I do not do good to those who treat me bad, when I think someone else has a sin that is greater than my own that is pride which the Lord abhors. Jesus was the only One alive who never sinned yet He took my punishment and showed me mercy and to not act like that towards others who I am on the same level ground is to reject what He has done for me.

    ODB was excellent for today and fitting.

  41. poohpity says:

    Jesus reminds us that whatever we do to others it will come back to us. So if we use judgement or criticism it will come back to us but if you show mercy and forgiveness it will also be returned. Luke 6:37-38 NIV I do not know about anyone else but I want mercy, grace and forgiveness and if I show that to others it will come back to me maybe not from the person I give it to but most importantly from God. Luke 6:31 NIV If I only do good and love those who give it back how am I any different than the world around me.

  42. foreverblessed says:

    Good point swwagner, good to think about, and while thinking about it, Pooh, what you say about the body, God also wants to bless our bodies:
    “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Thess 5:23
    And that the well being of our bodies has to do something with the taking of the Communion, we remember the death of Jesus, His body with the bread, and His blood with the wine. Something happens there inside us, in our spirit in our soul in our body, when we take it in faith.

  43. poohpity says:

    forever, I think that is so important that God is involved with every area of our lives with all that we are and that does include the physical but it seems the only way we are kept blameless is as we remain in Christ Jesus not in our own strength(physical) but because Jesus is faithful to us. 1 Thess 5:24 NIV. That is similar to how we are called to love the Lord our God with all that we are. Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37 What that does not seem to say is that our physical bodies will die due to sin but rather a way to give our whole self to God.

  44. remarutho says:

    Good Afternoon BTA Friends –

    Mart, you wrote:
    “…lingering generational consequences say something about the wisdom of a designer who understands far better than we do why the toxic intermingling of heredity, experience, and personal choice, is better than allowing us to think that we are not only free from the influence of our parent’s sin—but also free to live as we please without effect on the little ones who inherit our blood and money.”

    Do not fully see what you refer to in the above statement. It seems to pertain to a specific family situation. Surely there comes a time in a believer’s life when (s)he departs the fold of the birth family at least in moral agency and life-pursuit. What was called in former generations “besetting sin,” seems to be so strong that we are not rid of it in this life. But, the blood of Christ has power to alter our “destiny.” (Rev 1:5, 6) We are destined to be cleansed from sin.

    It appears to me that the writer of Hebrews is recommending a break with what has “hindered and entangled” us – to identify ourselves with the Family of God and to seek even a breaking of genetic bonds that are toxic to our kingdom journey:

    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3


  45. swwagner says:


    Thank you for quoting the passage from Hebrews…how sweet it is to be reminded of God’s purpose and power to bring us to Himself and to keep us with His power.

  46. remarutho says:

    One of your questions, Mart, is: “So is God gracious and merciful— or true enough to himself to require every sin not only to be judged but to have lingering consequences that… he alone knows how to resolve?”

    The only answer I see is yes. God is gracious and merciful. God is true to God’s self and God judges every sin. Sin, by its rebellious nature, has damaging consequences that linger. The blood of Jesus cleanses all/every sin that is exposed, confessed and left by the side of the road.


  47. poohpity says:

    David knew of this great love and compassion even before Jesus came as he pinned the 103 Psalm this to me proves that the God of the OT is the same God of the NT. David the man after God’s own heart knew God so well he wrote about God’s forgiveness and mercy way before incarnation that proved how our sins are cast off as far is the east is from the west.

  48. oneg2dblu says:

    Degrees of sin?
    There seems to be two degrees…
    One, If you sin before knowing Christ and his salvation, you go to hell for your sins.

    Two, If you sin after receiving Christ and his salvation, you go to heaven regardless of your sins.

    So, it seems that the very same sin is applied to the unsaved, vastly different than it is for those who are saved, but both have sinned equally.

    Just because David had a heart for God that still did not prevent his sin/separation.

    If fact David spent a whole year separated from his God after he commited his multiple sins, and he was not restored until he repented.

    Salvation was not the issue for David, but sin was.

  49. poohpity says:

    But I do not feel God left him because if God had Nathan would not have been sent to confront David. God went after David just like He goes after us. I think that is why God gives us really good friends to confront us when we are wrong then be there to remind us of God’s forgiveness. David then wrote Psalm 51.

  50. Mart De Haan says:

    Will try to post another thought shortly.

  51. short357 says:

    I’m not sure how God determines the degree of sin by his standards, even unbelief is not pleasing in his book according to the bible in revelation. I’m just glad he came down from perfection to come and see about imperfection and not giving what was deserved, death and total separation from him because he’s holy. As the bible says in N.T. as well as and the Old, only one Judge and lawgiver and he alone can only judge rightly. Isa. 55:9, his ways and thoughts are higher than ours, so for me, I try to let him alone be judge of sin since I didn’t go to the cross for anyone, but try to do like Jesus asked, deny my fallen self take up my cross and follow him, whose love and mercy cannot compare to anyone, Praise Him.

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