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“What’s One Little Sin?”

Never underestimate the consequence of sin . . . or your need for God’s grace.

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point,
he has become guilty of all.” – James 2:10.

Now, what do we do with this verse? Is it saying that if we commit one sin, then we have committed all sins? Is it saying that all sins are equal before God?  Well, the answer is yes and no. Let’s look at both.

  • No – because not all sin results in the same earthly consequence. If I murder my brother, or if I just hate him to the point of saying hateful things, both are sin. Jesus calls hatred murder. But if I only hurt my brother with words, He’s not dead. Not all sin has the same earthly consequence.
  • Yes – because ultimately our sins are not only against our fellow man. All sins are ultimately against God, who gave us the whole law. “Against You, You only, I have sinned . . .” (Ps 51:4).

The common denominator for all sins is that they are all basically actions done independently from God. It is impossible for a man to predict the ultimate harmful consequence(s) of an action that is done independently from God, no matter how big or small the action.

In 1999, Lockheed Martin, the huge aerospace firm, wrote a contract and missed a small detail. They misplaced a comma in an inflation-adjusted formula that was written into the contract. That mistake cost Lockheed Martin $70 million dollars.  One little, misplaced comma cost $70 million dollars!

Like that comma, even the “smallest” sin can have far-reaching repercussions.  And if our sins are ultimately against God Himself, then we can know that even the “smallest” sin against an infinite God has infinite consequence. Or as John Piper puts it, “ . . . in that sense every sin is infinitely heinous.”

Now, what are we to do with this sobering reality? If you are inclined to works and keeping score, you could beat yourself up . . . all the time.  But I believe God intends a different response. As we come to recognize the gravity of the sin that is in us, the frequency of our independent actions and the inestimable consequence thereof, I believe God would have us develop a profound sense of gratitude for His amazing grace and a constant recognition of our need for that grace!

“. . . but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Rom 5:20-21

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” – 2 Cor. 12:9


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The Greatest Miracle of All

Forgiveness of sin – the miracle of all miracles.
Lesson 49 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” But there were some of the scribes sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk?’ But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins–He said to the paralytic–“I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”

– Mark 2:5–11

But of all the things that Jesus did, the thing that seemed to anger them the most was when He told people their sins were forgiven. For only God has the authority to forgive sin.

By claiming to do what only God could do, Jesus was in fact claiming to be God, an act that, according to Hebrew law, was punishable by death.

– The HOPE, Chapter 9

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

When it comes to the subject of miracles, the documentation of the miracles of Jesus is in a class by itself. There are, however, others in history who have (or have been said to have) performed miracles. This not only includes other characters in the Bible, but also the founders of other religions.

But there is one miracle that no other person in the Bible and no other founder of a major world religion can claim: the forgiveness of sin. Jesus actually told people their sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2,Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:47). The basis for the forgiveness that He offered is what Jesus would ultimately accomplish by His death and miraculous resurrection.

Most of the Hebrew religious leaders were infuriated that Jesus would say “Your sins are forgiven” for only God can forgive sin. By claiming that He had the authority to forgive sin, Jesus was in fact claiming to be God. He knew it – and so did they. And because these religious leaders didn’t believe that Jesus was God, they considered His words as blasphemy: speaking evil of or against God, or making the claim to be God.1Blasphemy was an offense punishable by death in the Old Testament (Leviticus 24:16).  Continue reading


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A Covering for Sin

The sacrifices covered sin, but did not take it away.
Lesson 37 from The HOPE Study Guide

INTRODUCTION

According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.

– Exodus 25:9

And each day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement, and you shall purify the altar when you make atonement for it; and you shall anoint it to consecrate it.

– Exodus 29:36

And I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. And I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me. And I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.

– Exodus 29:43–45

Now God knew that because of the sin that had infected humankind, the people would not be able to keep these laws. So God told Moses how to build a sacred place where His presence would dwell among them, and the people could bring animals to be slain as offerings for sin. The blood of the animals would be as a covering so that God would not look upon their sin. But while these sacrifices covered sin, they did not take away the sin.

– The HOPE, Chapter 7

OBSERVE & CONSIDER

When God gave the Hebrew people the Law, He knew that, because of the sin that had infected humankind (Lesson 18), they would not be able to keep the Law. It might appear to have been a cruel thing for God to give the Hebrew people a standard He knew they could not live up to. But let’s look a little deeper. Man’s greatest need is to have a healthy relationship with God. Because the Law represents the character of God, man cannot side–step the Law and be right with God. The Law represents who God is. Just as God is holy, righteous and good…so also is the Law (Romans 7:16). Man must be rightly related to the Law if he is to be rightly related with God.

Being full of grace, mercy, and wisdom, God provided the Hebrew people with a way to maintain their right relationship with Him even though they would inevitably break the Law. As it is said in The HOPE, So God told Moses how to build a sacred place where His presence would dwell among them, and the people could bring animals to be slain as offerings for sin. The blood of the animals would be as a covering so that God would not look upon their sin. God’s instructions for this sacred place of sacrifice, known as the tabernacle, are detailed in Exodus 25-27. God’s instructions for the offerings to be given there are detailed in Exodus 29-30.

In Exodus 29:36 we read that this offering was for “atonement.”1 The word “atonement” comes from the Hebrew word “kaphar”2 which literally means “to cover.” (This was the same word that was used when God told Noah to “cover” the ark with pitch.) When offerings were said to be an atonement for sin, they were in a sense “covering” the sin. Now it would be foolish to think that God, the One who sees and knows all things, is blind to sin, as if He could not see through an offering. It would be more accurate to say that God honored the offering by choosing not to look upon the sin or judge the sin…at least for a period of time. Continue reading