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All sin is equal?
Can we talk about sin.


20 replies to this topic

#1 Mumto1feral

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:18 PM

I have been attending a bible study group at my church and this week we have been talking about sin. It came up about all sin being equal. It was discussed that there are no levels of sins and that there is no difference between say a murderer and a liar or an unbeliever for example. No I am really struggling with this concept. I can't get around in my head that God considers murder the same as someone telling a white lie = that both are doomed to hell unless they repent. I would love to hear others thoughts on this, on sin in general. Please share your pearls of wisdom on sin.

#2 cerberus

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:25 PM

QUOTE (Mumto1bub @ 18/10/2012, 01:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have been attending a bible study group at my church and this week we have been talking about sin. It came up about all sin being equal. It was discussed that there are no levels of sins and that there is no difference between say a murderer and a liar or an unbeliever for example. No I am really struggling with this concept. I can't get around in my head that God considers murder the same as someone telling a white lie = that both are doomed to hell unless they repent. I would love to hear others thoughts on this, on sin in general. Please share your pearls of wisdom on sin.


The bible is open to interpretation. The bible is not perfect, just like God & Jesus who aren't perfect. The bible can be wrong. It's dangerous for people to pick up the bible and regard it as something that they should strictly live their life by. It is a guide. I think the most sensible thing is to not wholly believe in everything and anything you read in the bible, but pick the bits that are meaningful and important to you. Obviously all sin isn't equal. It sounds like something that has been misinterpreted.

#3 SaintJoe

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:34 PM

I am Catholic and we certainly don't believe that all sin is equal.

There are some sins that are considered 'mortal' (dangereous for the soul) This would include things such as murder, rape etc.

Other sins, while also spiritually cutting us off from God are not considered as serious.

I'm sure someone else could explain it more eloquantly.


#4 Ianthe

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:38 PM

I think the point is that all sin grieves God. No matter what it is. And for whatever sin we commit we need to repent.

#5 skae

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:39 PM

Sin separates us from God. We are all sinners since the fall of Adam and Eve, whether we live the best life possible or are the worst person in the history of the world. God cannot tolerate any sin. When you believe in and receive Jesus, His death on the cross covers your sins, they are cleansed from you, and God sees you as blameless.

It's hard for me to explain this in writing, I find it easier to talk.

#6 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:41 PM

For this topic, I have armed myself with chocolate as I type.  I wonder if that's a sin?   wink.gif

Broadly speaking, there are two Christian schools of thought on sin.

One divides sin into two kinds: mortal sin and venial sin.  This kind of approach has its basis in the kinds of things said in 1 John 5: "If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal."  So this kind of approach draws a distinction between "petty" sin, if you like, and the really serious stuff.

The other points out that all sin is of essentially the same kind.  The difference between so-called mortal and venial sin is not one of kind but only of degree.  This is the way that Paul tends to write about sin in many of his letters, but an example would be when he says that "the wages of sin is death."  He doesn't make a distinction there; and he's right insofar as all sin is a falling short of the glory of God; all sin is a failure to be the person I am created to be; all sin is a participation in the sickness, the slavery, the death which has humanity by the throat.

As you can see, there's a Biblical basis for both ways of thinking about things.  I think both of them say important things about the human reality of sin; because I, too, don't think God sees all wrongdoing in exactly the same way, even if it is all "wrongdoing."

I also think that there's a question of context.  It can be argued that what John was talking about in his letter is the sin that believers commit after conversion, after baptism.  Post-baptismal sin was a huge issue in the early church; many believed that if you committed a mortal sin after your baptism you betrayed God and irrevocably forfeited your salvation (which is one reason why some people delayed baptism even until their deathbeds, for fear of sinning too badly afterwards).  

Whereas it can be argued that Paul is talking about the reality of sin before conversion; when he talks about the wages of sin as death, he does so in the context of presenting faith in Christ as the life-giving alternative.  He is putting a choice in front of his readers: choose the sinful system of this world (and therefore death), or Christ (and therefore life).  In that context he doesn't need to make a distinction between murder and excessive chocolate consumption, because without Christ (in his view) there is no escape from death at all.

Doomed to hell?  After much wrestling with this, I have come to the personal position that I believe that those who don't go on to eternal life with God don't go to a place of eternal torment, but have their existence end after this life.  I guess I don't believe in a stereotypical cartoon hell.  But that's really a whole separate topic!

#7 SaintJoe

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:50 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 18/10/2012, 02:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Doomed to hell?  After much wrestling with this, I have come to the personal position that I believe that those who don't go on to eternal life with God don't go to a place of eternal torment, but have their existence end after this life.  I guess I don't believe in a stereotypical cartoon hell.  But that's really a whole separate topic!


Out of interest Ange...is there theology to back this up? I often wonder this.

#8 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:55 PM

There's theology to back up any position you want.  The question is, is it good theology?   biggrin.gif

In all seriousness, yes, there is, I did a lot of reading on it a year or two back.  However, I am swamped today and really don't have time to go trawling the textbooks for it.  If you'd really like me to look into it, can you remind me in a couple of weeks when semester's over, and I'll happily put some points together for you?

#9 Mumto1feral

Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:57 PM

Thanks for the replies so far.

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 18/10/2012, 02:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
He is putting a choice in front of his readers: choose the sinful system of this world (and therefore death), or Christ (and therefore life).  In that context he doesn't need to make a distinction between murder and excessive chocolate consumption, because without Christ (in his view) there is no escape from death at all.

Still I still struggle with this too. What about those people in this world never exposed to the Bible or Christ or the "Christian God"? Because by this argument, people are then condemned to death simply for being born into a part of the world that is without Christ because thay actually have no opportunity to even know who Christ is and therefore even choose Christ to be a part of their life? How is that fair? (I hope i make sense??)

#10 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:12 PM

I think the Bible allows for the possibility of a kind of "uneducated" knowledge of God.  Paul writes in Romans 1 that the people who have never heard of "God," can still know of him: "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made."

I also think that God's mercy will have depths which surprise us.  I guess the thing is, we do not know the status before God of someone who has never heard the gospel; but we can be assured of the status before God of one who has accepted it.  

And really, the question of the Christian life is about so much more than whether or not we live after death.  Following Christ is meant to bring about all the benefits of relationship with God in this life, so from the point of view of Paul, there is every reason to urge people who had heard of Christ to accept rather than reject him.

#11 SaintJoe

Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:24 PM

No no Ange but thankyou so much for the offer.

My sister studies theology so I might pick her brain.

#12 Mumto1feral

Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:42 PM

QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 18/10/2012, 03:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think the Bible allows for the possibility of a kind of "uneducated" knowledge of God.


Ange I know you are busy but when you have time I would love to know of more sections in the bible which discusses this (if there are any?)

I also think you make a good point about focusing on the benefits of a relationship with God and Christ in this life. I think growing up, a lot of teachings i was exposed to have been around instilling fear and what happens after death and going to hell. So i sometimes get lost in that rather than focusing on the here and now. That prehaps avoiding sin is not about necessarily avoiding going to hell per se but about trying to lead us to live the best possible life we can possibly live.

Edited by Mumto1bub, 18 October 2012 - 07:49 PM.


#13 aluminium

Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:53 PM

Ange Vert,
I always appreciate your thoughtful replies in these threads. And I have to say, your view on hell (or not hell) is one I tend to take as well. It's very... Seventh Day Adventist, though I've had Anglican Priests agree with me using the covenant with Noah as a key example as to why Hell cannot exist...

VBut that is off topic, sorry carry one talking about sin. I will read along. original.gif

#14 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:19 PM

QUOTE (Mumto1bub @ 18/10/2012, 08:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ange I know you are busy but when you have time I would love to know of more sections in the bible which discusses this (if there are any?)


Noted, and I promise to look into it - but it may take me a couple of weeks till it gets to the top of the to-do list!


#15 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 05 November 2012 - 01:40 PM

QUOTE (Mumto1bub @ 18/10/2012, 08:42 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ange I know you are busy but when you have time I would love to know of more sections in the bible which discusses this (if there are any?)


Ok, here's what I've found on an (admittedly fairly quick) survey:

- The story of Balaam, who seemed to know God despite being from a distant land (Numbers 22 and following chapters) and not having prior contact with Israel.  

- Elihu argues in Job that people can know God from nature and Providence:
"For to the snow he says, “Fall on the earth”;
   and the shower of rain, his heavy shower of rain,
serves as a sign on everyone’s hand,
   so that all whom he has made may know it." (Job 37)

- Psalm 19 pursues a similar line of thought:

"The heavens are telling the glory of God;
   and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world."

- In the story of Jonah, the sailors have the existence of Jonah's God revealed to them by the casting of lots.  (Jonah 1).

- In Acts, Paul identifies the "unknown God" of Athens with the God of the Jews

- Romans 1 I already mentioned above

I'm also unsure about including the visit of the Magi; as Persians they would have had some contact with Judaism, but how much they would have absorbed the Jewish expectation of Messiah, (enough to follow a star to find him?), is up for debate.

I think that's not a bad sample.  Of course, as Scriptures addressed to communities of believers, the emphasis in the Bible is on God being known as people are told or shown (by our actions and manner of life) something of his existence - but there is this little strand of texts as well, which suggests that that isn't the whole story.

#16 **Xena**

Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:32 PM

QUOTE (Mumto1bub @ 18/10/2012, 02:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the replies so far.


Still I still struggle with this too. What about those people in this world never exposed to the Bible or Christ or the "Christian God"? Because by this argument, people are then condemned to death simply for being born into a part of the world that is without Christ because thay actually have no opportunity to even know who Christ is and therefore even choose Christ to be a part of their life? How is that fair? (I hope i make sense??)


I struggle too although for me it's also the fact that if there is a God he made me the way I am and I don't believe in him. I forced myself to try and no matter how hard I try I still couldn't believe in his existence. I went to Church, Girls Brigade and Youth Group, I read the bible, I still couldn't believe. So am I (and others like me) doomed to hell becaiuse we can't believe. I could lie to the public and believe but I couldn't lie to myself (or God if he existed). Is this my fault, the enviromental factors fault, Gods fault? Do I 'cease to exist' because I can't make myself believe?

Sorry this is probably tricky.


#17 Phasmatis angelam

Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:08 PM

I think that part of the problem is that what we mean by "believe" has shifted a bit over the centuries.  We tend to understand it in a very intellectual, individualistic way; what I "believe" is the sum of the intellectual propositions which I hold to be true.  That's a product of the enlightenment, the Reformation, and related trends in Western society.

Whereas the ancients wouldn't have thought of it that way and would, I think, have been quite horrified at that approach.  James wrote to the fledgling church: "Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder."  His point was that what we truly believe is what we trust; what has a powerful enough grasp on us to shape our identity, our relationships, our behaviour.

I don't think that he would have had as much problem as many modern people would, with someone who had doubts or a lack of conviction, but was part of a community of faith and lived his/her life in accordance with the communal faith of that group.  That was trust; that was allowing oneself to be identified and transformed by something even though one's mind couldn't grasp it.

All of which is to say that I think we get it wrong when we say "I can't believe" as if belief were about convincing our intellect.  We find the essence of our belief in how we live.  So I think it's possible to look at a life shaped by love and say, there is something of the God the Christians are on about here, even if I don't intellectualise it in their terms.

Does that help?

#18 **Xena**

Posted 03 December 2012 - 09:55 PM

It does, thanks heaps!

#19 Mumto1feral

Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

Hi Ange Vert, I have forgotten to say a big thank you for responding to my questions! I plan to highlight the verses in my bible app. Thanks again.
QUOTE (Ange Vert @ 05/11/2012, 02:40 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok, here's what I've found on an (admittedly fairly quick) survey:

- The story of Balaam, who seemed to know God despite being from a distant land (Numbers 22 and following chapters) and not having prior contact with Israel.  

- Elihu argues in Job that people can know God from nature and Providence:
"For to the snow he says, “Fall on the earth”;
   and the shower of rain, his heavy shower of rain,
serves as a sign on everyone’s hand,
   so that all whom he has made may know it." (Job 37)

- Psalm 19 pursues a similar line of thought:

"The heavens are telling the glory of God;
   and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world."

- In the story of Jonah, the sailors have the existence of Jonah's God revealed to them by the casting of lots.  (Jonah 1).

- In Acts, Paul identifies the "unknown God" of Athens with the God of the Jews

- Romans 1 I already mentioned above

I'm also unsure about including the visit of the Magi; as Persians they would have had some contact with Judaism, but how much they would have absorbed the Jewish expectation of Messiah, (enough to follow a star to find him?), is up for debate.

I think that's not a bad sample.  Of course, as Scriptures addressed to communities of believers, the emphasis in the Bible is on God being known as people are told or shown (by our actions and manner of life) something of his existence - but there is this little strand of texts as well, which suggests that that isn't the whole story.


#20 PigNewton

Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:42 PM

QUOTE
Doomed to hell? After much wrestling with this, I have come to the personal position that I believe that those who don't go on to eternal life with God don't go to a place of eternal torment, but have their existence end after this life. I guess I don't believe in a stereotypical cartoon hell. But that's really a whole separate topic!

That's been my view for many years, Ange.

#21 *mylittleprince*

Posted 01 January 2013 - 02:49 PM

I believe all sin is equal (in that it's sin and wrong) but the consquences vary.



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