We all want to believe that our theology is sound. There is no better way to start an argument with a follower of Christ than to insinuate that their understanding of how God works is flawed. Even for those who humbly accept that they will never fully understand God this side of eternity, the thought of a hole in their theology on sin, especially one that can allow Satan to interfere with their faith could start a fight.
I don’t believe my theology on sin has a hole in it.
There are two theories that appear to conflict when it comes sin. One says all sins are equal, the other suggests some sins are greater than others. I know this sounds like I am too wimpy to take a side but I believe that the right approach is to combine both. Bear with me as I present my thought process.
The idea that all sin is equal appears to be backed up by “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a (NIV). There is only one payment for sin therefore all sin is equal.
The idea that different sin has different outcomes in our lives and therefore all sin cannot be equal appears to be backed up by Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:47-48 (NIV) “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.
There is also an experiential component to my sin theology.
I can say from life experience that some sins, whether committed as a follower of Christ or as a non-believer, have a greater effect than others. Murder ends a life and that life cannot be reanimated. Theft, on the other hand can be rectified by returning the stolen property. In one case the final outcome of sin cannot be undone, in the other case the final outcome of the sin can be complete restoration. Even if the property is not returned it can be replaced but a life cannot.
Okay there is a hole in my sin theology.
While I have to admit that all sin carries the penalty of death and therefore all are equal, I also have to accept that not all sins are equally destructive leaving me with a hole in my theology. This hole is not life altering. My eternal life does not rest on my full comprehension of God’s view of sin. I can say this without reservation, if I sin without accepting the completed work of Jesus Christ, I am doomed. I will leave the rest up to God.
The equality of sin hole in my theology is not Satan sized.
I may not understand if/how God ranks sin, but the truth is I don’t need to. I am not looking to see which sins carry a lesser penalty so I can chose what sins I will commit. If I were to live weighing the penalty against the pleasure of a sin then I would have a Satan sized hole in my theology and he has made his way through it into my life.
I have to admit I do rank my sins.
When I recognize that I have sinned I seek to make things right with God, to respond in a way that brings healing to my relationship with Him. I have to admit I also look at the “size” of the sin. I am not doing this to see what I can get away with or to try to elevate myself by saying all or most of my sins are little ones. Instead, I look at the severity of my sin to see the extent of the repentance (the U-Turn away from the sin) that is required to get back on the right path and live in a way that is pleasing to God. This is where the hole forms in my theology.
I have a Satan sized hole in my theology.
The fact I have committed a sin is unnerving. I know that sounds arrogant but it isn’t meant to sound that way. I am not shocked that I sinned but rather unnerved by the fact I have let down my heavenly father. I begin to hurt inside especially because I know His unfailing love is still there even though I have failed to fully love Him back. My pain deepens when I assign a “size” to my sin and contemplate just how much damage has been done. I start to wonder if the part I am supposed to play in His plan will change or even be taken away. This is the hole in my theology big enough for Satan to fit through.
This hole should not exist.
My theology is founded on an all knowing God that is not limited by the constraints of time. Based on this I must accept that God is not caught off guard by my sin. God is not forced to adjust His plans because of what I have done but rather His plans are in place because He already knows what I will do before I do it.
I am a part of His perfect plan that cannot be changed by my imperfection.