Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Is All Sin And Reconciliation Of Sin The Same? Pt. 1

Please allow me to shed light on a particular subject. This is for those who are bible believers. I would say that this is not for the general public in the sense of examining what is right or wrong outside of a biblical context. This article has no regard for governmental legislation on court process in determining truth, right and wrong. So if I may...

The Case

Some have taken to task to say that "all sins are the same" and that there is no sin greater or worse than another. Therefore, we should treat all sin and all sinners the same.

Sentiments such as these are invoked in particularly as it pertains to homosexuality within the church. Some say,
"Since we have adulterers and fornicators in the church and some of them are in position, if there is a homosexual, they are no worse off than some others caught in sexual sin and therefore should be allowed to participate in the church and in church leadership like any other person."
Bishop O C Allen &
1st Gentleman
Rashad Burgess
Because of this, some conclude that to exclude homosexuals from opportunities within the church, such as the opportunity to lead congregations and various aspects of ministry, that such restrictions are no more than an arbitrary standard of men where closeted and even open sexual impurities are rewarded while openly gay men and women are discouraged and held down. In fact, some say that at least the open gay is living their truth and to say that they are worse than anyone else, including those perverts hiding behind the pulpit, is simply hateful and from a secular point of view, discriminatory.

Now, at first glance, this argument and the relevant issues, seem to have some merit. We would have to admit that although the sin of homosexuality has been around for quite some time, we have known adulterers, fornicators and other sexually immoral persons among our ranks and some of them fill positions, and some even do their deeds openly. There are pastors and bishops and other church leaders, who have not just simply failed or committed sins, but who actively live and lead lifestyles contrary to biblical teachings. 

Look at the men caught on video and film, having sex with both women and men in recent times. Then, there are baby and even adult child scandal dramas regularly. The Greenleaf series on OWN, the source of much recent controversy, is said to deal with and expose the ultra lavish lifestyle and sins of former COGIC Presiding Bishop J O Patterson, who fathered children outside of marriage and lived opulently while the majority of the church was filled with common and ordinary people dedicated to living godly and holy. As stated some of them are "leaders", caught in open heterosexual sins, aspire and achieve to the highest heights of the church.

Because noone sins alone, there are women, within the church, who feel that they are confirmed and affirmed to live in and out of the bed of individuals to whom they are not married. Some even feel that it is their mission and duty, to seek out men for illicit relationships and then "expose" them for what they themselves have contributed to, and spent a great deal of time creating. Recently a woman, seeking to expose a married Bishop, made a videotape of him in a hotel room naked. Although she created the video, if it wasn't for her voice you would never know she was in the room. Certainly he was wrong, but she was a willing agent in destruction, making herself available for sex with a married man. What I am saying is that neither of them had anything to brag about or be proud of.   

To be frank, the church must admit that we have some nasty, slimy, filthy dogs (both male and female) that make it a sport to go through the church, manipulate both men, women and even children, and keep on moving under the pretense of "serving the Lord" in some fashion. 

What We Know:

I would say that although the act of sin has changed, expanded and gone to new levels of perversion, none of the sentiments regarding perversion within the church is new to the scriptures or the church:

2 Tim. 3: 5-6 ~ 5-Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6-For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 

Phil. 3:18-19 ~ 18-(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19-Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 

In fact, the church has known for years that it has adulterous, fornicating and gay singers, and even other leaders within the church that live immorally. Knowing that sexual immorality and impurity exists within the church does not allow or extend a license in any way for such immorality to continue to exist, thrive or proliferate. God's plan is still one of purity, sanctification and holiness within the life of the believer and ultimately within the context of the church. 

1 Thess. 4:3-8 ~ 3-For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4-That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5-Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6-That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7-For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8-He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

"No need to single out gays and lesbians". Sincere critics, who make this assertion, assume that to single out the gay and lesbian is an act of injustice and man made judgement and therefore not "Christlike" because, "all sins are the same" and heterosexual sin is no better or worse than homosexual sin. 

This is and can be rather complex, and there are some believers who sincerely believe in a holy lifestyle that struggle with this observation and these sentiments. So let's examine this for a minute.

Questions:

Is it unjust to address homosexuality within the church, while being silent about heterosexual sins? Does God view that all sexual sins are the same? Is it not "Christlike" to call homosexuality a sin and exclude homosexuals from service within the church? Should the church be an open field of opportunities in leadership to homosexuals embracing the homosexual lifestyle? These are some major questions and issues within many of our churches today and many leaders are struggling with the issues. 

I will attempt to wade into these waters of church introspection. In a couple of parts, I will address and attempt to answer the following issues:
Bishop Allyson D, Nelson Abrams
I ~ Are there varying degrees of both righteousness, sin and reward, punishment or judgement?
II ~ Is homosexuality from a biblical perspective a sin?

III ~ Is there a difference in the nature of homosexual sin, vs. the nature of sin in general in church and within society?
IV ~ Should the church embrace active homosexuals as leaders within the church?
Section I 

A ~ Are there varying degrees of both righteousness, sin and reward, punishment or judgement? 

B ~ Are all sins the same? 

Rev. 20:12 -14
 ~ And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13- And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.14- And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Admittedly, there is a lot about judgement that we don't know. Just the unimaginable scene of judgement itself is beyond our capacity to fully understand. However, there is a lot that we do know and are told from scripture. 

For sure all people and sins will be judged. There will be a day when all men will give an account for their sins. The Saint will give an account through and by the grace and mercy of God from a blood-washed condition. His/her sins will be thrown into the sea of forgetfulness, because of their faith in Jesus. Those sins will not be used against us in judgment and will be remembered no more.

According to 1 Cor. 6, the believer will also have part in judgement of angels and will be called to witness against the sins of the world as well. Believers will receive a reward as Jesus referenced in John 14:1.Unbelievers will receive their reward also and will know exactly what and why they are being judged...for rejecting the saving work and power of the Son of God. 

For both sin and for righteousness, there will be a reward. What is often not considered is that scripture indicates that there will be rewards commensurate to sins and there will be rewards commensurate to righteousness as well. 

We often associate our faith or our level of blessing in heaven with a "reward" or commensurate with what we have overcome on earth. Jesus says as much in Mt. 5 in his sermon on the Mount as he was encouraging those who would suffer persecution for the Lord's sake:

Mt. 5:11-12 ~ 11-Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.12-Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

"Great is your reward in heaven" specifically points out that not only will a person be rewarded with heaven itself, but shall be rewarded in a comparatively great manner with additional rewards aside from heaven only. 

In heaven, there are four and twenty elders who sit around the throne. (Rev. 4:10, 5:8, 14, 7:13, 11:16, 14:3). In Mt. 20:20-23 when responding to the request of  the mother of Zebedee's sons, aka the "sons of thunder" Jesus indicated that only God had the power to place anyone on the right and left, indicating the place of great reward, recognition and honor. As Jesus explained this "position" or honor was commensurate with the work of suffering that would be done by the individual and by the will and command of God. 

Jesus responds to Peter's "we have left all" after speaking to the rich young ruler saying: 

Mt. 19:28-29 ~ 28-And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29-And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life

Jesus reveals who at least half of those 24 elders were and would be that sat upon thrones in heaven and on his right and left hand saying that not only would they receive "everlasting life" but also the reward of "an hundredfold" which was Jewish idiom of the day to indicate a great or wonderful blessing.  

Then there is Paul in 1 Cor. 3: 11-15. Paul here speaks of the works that we do and how some of them would be "burnt up" and others remaining. He indicates that both individuals who present works will be saved, but only the one whose works are not burned up will receive "a reward" (1 Cor. 3:14b). Yes, the ultimate reward is heaven, but there are degrees of gifts that shall be received by each believer. 

On The Flip Side
We often, however, overlook that sins and failure will be met with the same degree of temperament and reward as well. Here is what Luke records:

Luke 12:47-48 ~ 47-And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48-But he that knew not, and
did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him
they will ask the more.

In Luke, Jesus illustrates that the one who "knew" the will of the lord, but failed in that was beaten with "many" stripes, while the other was beaten with "few" stripes simply because those who had been given much to work with shall have a greater responsibility for their failure in refusing to do what God has said to do (in this case an earthly lord would even be cognizant of this difference). This is a principle that Jesus outlines that cannot simply be overlooked. 

I believe that this is a direct allusion to the varying penalty for sin and wrongdoing. For one, there is "less" of a judgment or penalty to pay, even though there is or has been a violation. For another there is a greater punishment or penalty, because the person, though equipped, refused to prepare and hear. Men appear to be judged according to what they have received or been given.   

David cries that the Lord will reward the wicked according to their own works and evil deeds: Ps. 28:4) Yet other scriptures agree that men shall be paid according to their works (Mt. 16:27, Rev. 20:12,13, 2 Cor. 11:15, Rom. 2:6 (the repetition of Ps.28:4) 

B) Are all sins the same? 


Obviously, what is sin is sin. There is no question about what is wrong being wrong. However, if there are different or varying degrees of reward, punishment and judgement about both righteousness and sins, then not only is every reward the same but neither is every sin is equal. Because of justice neither is every sin rewarded the same.

"Thou shalt not steal" (Ex. 20:15, Deut. 5:19) We all know the command. However, there is a difference between a parent who steals 3lbs. of ground beef from a grocery store to feed his family, and a person who steals from individuals to enrich themselves. 

Yes, both have violated both natural law and the law of God. However, like Jesus' views on the Sabbath, Jesus often views the application of the law through the lens of humanity and human experience. Not that he is soft on sin, but he tempers his judgement with righteousness.

David & The Shewbread (1 Sam. 21:6 & Mt. 12:4)

We all remember David in escaping from Saul along with his men. They became hungry and went into the temple at Nob asking to eat bread that was dedicated to the use and consecration of priestly service. (1 Sam. 21) In this scenario, David was reminded of the Law which restricted the use of the bread. However, the priest after giving a very minimal test regarding holiness, gave to David and he ate the bread along with his companions and was not chastised by the Lord for doing so.

Jesus, in Mt. 12:4, when confronted about doing good on the Sabbath Day, argued that although it was unlawful to eat the bread, the bread served a greater purpose and that was to fulfill the will of God toward HIS people. As a type, the bread actually represented Jesus himself, who by the breaking of his body (bread) would actually sustain the word and allow a new Kingdom to enter the world giving us life by his reign.

In this case, what was obviously a "sin" according to the literal interpretation and rendering of scripture, was not judged as so. The reconciliation of the event was in accord with the purpose and command of God.

By Contrast

Adolph Hitler and many with him were responsible for the extermination and genocide of over 7 million Jews and people who sympathized with the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Families were destroyed, broken up, children, boys and girls, raped, property stolen and people left to suffer. Even over 70 years removed from the events, the atrocities are yet being revealed.  

Is there anyone willing to argue that Hitler's reward in his judgement will be the same as one who has never murdered or broken up families nor embraced racism? Or the same as a person who has not offended humanity on the scale of Hitler's offense? Certainly Hitler will be made to pay for and be judged according to his sins.  The same with Caesar Nero, Stahlin, Pol Pot and a host of others that have used and abused humanity. They will not escape neither judgment nor the reward of their sins! However, their sins will not be rewarded on the same scale as one who stole a biscuit or a pack of ground beef or steaks because they were hungry.

At this point, I can say with confidence that I don't know how God will judge and adjudicate all situations. However, I can say with confidence that God is a JUST judge and he will judge justly.

Final thought in this section: During the Mt. Olivet discourse, Jesus spoke of adultery. Prior to his missive, people thought that there was a difference between their actions and their thoughts. (Mt. 5:27-28) Theirs was a strict, literal interpretation of scripture's teaching against such sins. However, they missed that an evil heart is ultimately equally as bad as wicked actions. Jesus said that if a man, "looks upon a woman" with intent  "to lust after her" has committed adultery. Those who thought that they can lust inwardly without judgement, were caught in their sins with the realization that God saw them and was a judge of the "intents" of the heart as well as the actions of the flesh. So they would not escape judgement by embracing sin on any level.

However, sin by a man's actions creeps into other parts of a person's life. Sin in the heart is worthy of judgement, but sin acted upon could be even worse. A man thinking about an affair, takes it to a new stage of unrighteous reward by acting out upon his thoughts. A man thinking of murder, may be guilty in his heart, but by acting out takes his unrighteous reward to a new level. Same with any sin. Carrying these things out create and produce a greater level of unrighteous reward. 

Yes, in an ultimate sense, sin is sin. All sin is unworthy of a holy God. However, there is a difference and additional penalty for those acting out on their sins or lust. A man looks at a woman and has an inordinate desire. The same man pursues the object of his lust, establishes an illicit relationship. Judgment comes. BOTH will be judged in their sins, but God will distribute the reward as well, as he has promised to personally judge "whore mongers and adulterers I will judge" (Heb. 13:4) It is there that God will look at and see the heart, intents and actions and judge righteously. The actions of unrighteousness will not receive a pass, but God will correct and set the record straight.

All sins are not the same. Some are worse than others. Only God will distinguish the difference in judgment and with regard for unrighteous deeds. However, on earth we can obviously see that all evil does not have the same outcome even though all evil is offensive to a holy God. The other problem with sin and evil is when people seek to normalize it and make it seem right or just. This in and of itself is a great evil and a sin. To rationalize sin as righteousness, is an offense! 

Summary

In this part, I believe that I have established from a scriptural perspective that although heaven in and of itself is a reward, there are additional rewards in heaven that will be given based on faithful service and the work of the believer. I have also established that there is a variation of punishment and judgement that will be delivered as well. So on its face, if there is a variation of the punishment of sin as we can see from scripture, all sins are not the same.

The ultimate reconciliation of unrepentant sin is the same. Hell. However, the rewards and degrees of punishment is unequal and based on the depth of sin that a person embraced, even in their unbelief.

In Pt. 2 I will deal with homosexuality and reconcile the actions of a practicing homosexual with the actions of the heterosexual and with those who engage in various types of relationships and answer the questions, "Is homosexuality a sin? Should homosexuals be promoted or encouraged in ministry positions within the church?" and more.

Blessed! 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and a job well done. Obviously, you invested a lot of time with this. For me, sin is sin and punishment is punishment. Regardless to how they are cut, diced, or sliced, they are lethal. I want nothing to do with sin, because I believe a literal Hell exists and sin will take anybody there although they are not the same. Thank God for Repentance. Even so, there is such thing as time running out. With that in mind, /The day the word of God is heard, the heart should not be hardened for the sake of the hearer amen.

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