Today I had a discussion with my university colleagues on the seriousness of sins of different origin. Some say that there sins that are more and less serious, i.e. if you hit or kill someone you get different punishments. I have read in the Bible that the wages of sin is death, and it is not mentioned what kind of sin. Or maybe I did not find the sequences where it is explained. Please help me understand and explain them all.
What is sin?
The passage to which you made reference during the discussion you had with your colleagues is found in the Epistle to Romans and it is as follows:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)(NASB)
The way your colleagues answered you makes me understand that for them sins are only certain acts such as hitting or killing someone, which they have mentioned. Carefully reading the Epistle to Romans, and especially chapters 5 and 6 one will easily see that the Apostle Paul speaks of sin not only as a separate act, but as a complex phenomenon, a disease that affects totally and fully the human nature and makes our thinking, speech and behavior. That is why the singular form of the noun is used. The context defines the meaning of words and when studying the Bible it is of a major importance the study of the context.
All are equally affected by sin
When talking about how sin entered the world, the Scripture tells us:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14)(NASB)
Physical death is a major consequence of the sin of Adam and the fact that all men were subjected to this consequences, that is the physical death, it is a proof that sin has affected us all equally. However, in the verse from which this question began, the Apostle Paul refers to another death (Romans 6:23) than the physical one, to the spiritual one that involves separation from God in eternity, because death is separation.
The judgment of God is different from the human one
For God the reasons of which people do certain things count a lot and He will judge them. The Bible also says that we will give account in the day of judgment of every any useless word that we have used. According to the judgment and justice of God the list of the sinful deeds that come out this sinful nature and are worthy of death is very long. Here’s an example in chapter 1 of Romans where it is written:
… being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:29-32)(NASB)
I want to draw the attention of the reader that much of the sins listed in this list are the attitudes that attract God’s punishment on the one who has them.
Jesus Christ is the only One who can free us from the sinful nature
Here’s what the Apostle Paul says that is happening to the sinful nature (which he calls “our old self”) when one repents from his heart and enters a covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ by faith:
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts. (Romans 6:3-12)(NASB)
Do not despise the love and patience of God
In the Old Testament God established different penalties for different sins (acts). Thus, among the people of Israel, one who had stolen had to return the thing and 20% more and he who had committed a premeditated crime had to be killed. When speaking, however, about the sinful nature of man, the Bible tells us that all of us have it as much and therefore all, unless we repent, we expect the same punishment – death, which is an eternal separation from God. The good news is that the second part of that verse says that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Therefore God says:
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. (Romans 2:1-6)(NASB)
Tell your colleagues not to harden their hearts and not to presume upon the riches of kindness, tolerance and patience of God. Urge them to repent as soon as possible, even today.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru