One of the readers presented a very interesting question which I thought would be beneficial to consider along with my response.
He had A question about sin committed in our thought life.
In response I had remarked to this individual that Jesus had said that if you entertain the thoughts to look upon a woman sexually, you were guilty of the sin even though you had not physically committed it (Matthew 5:28).
This drove us to a conversation concerning sins within our thought life wherein I responded by stating:
“That is an excellent question, one I’ve never been asked before.
The Bible does not distinguish between any classification of sins, such as a type of sin.
Where some may refer to as the thought of having sex with a woman as a sensual type of sin, this is not actually found within the Bible.
Now the Jews did classify sins within the Torah, especially as seen in the book of Leviticus, yet we find this absent in any of Jesus or Paul’s teaching.
Probably the best explanation is the Definition of the word “sin” itself.
The Greek word for sin is Hamartia, And literally means “To fall short.”
It was originally used as an athletic term within archery.
Perfection Is a Bull’s-Eye
The idea is that the Bull’s-eye was the size of the arrow, with no acceptable score except dead center in the bull’s-eye.
Either there was a bull’s-eye, or no score at all.
By analogy, either there was perfection, or non-perfection, there is either right or there was wrong, but nothing in between.
You either do it or you don’t do it but there’s no classification of how well you do it, because to do anything less than that which is perfect is incomplete and unacceptable.
The idea was that there is not one thing better about hitting the nine ring, then the eight ring, if you’re not hitting the 10 ring you are missing the mark.
God was trying to communicate that anything less than His own Perfection is sin and falling short.
This is where we get the idea within the church that all sin is the same to God, based upon the words that He chose to communicate concerning sin.
God wanted us to understand that “almost” doesn’t get you there.
God’s perfection is not obtainable as far as being close to achieving.
He is so far beyond us that nothing we do can achieve a lack of sin and therefore perfection – wherein He is perfection, and to judge yourself anything less than sinful when you are not perfect, is a sin in itself.
We do know that God treats sin differently – that there is actually a difference concerning the severity of a sin.
It would be unjust and immoral to state that all sin is on the same scale of severity, that my grandmother Lying to me and telling me I was a handsome child is on the same scale as Hitler committing genocide by killing millions of Jews.
God is a righteous judge, And a righteous judge deals out punishment based upon severity.
But that is not what God was attempting to communicate whenever we deal with the subject of sin in regards to the fact that any sin can be downplayed as small and therefore considered in significant, He wanted to communicate that falling short; rather an inch, or a mile, was still falling short and therefore sin.
One of the seven statements of Christ from the cross was, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46, Quoting Psalm 22:1)
When Jesus made this statement he did not use the vernacular of the day, that of the international language of Greek, or the local language of Aramaic, he Spoke in the Hebrew language, their religious liturgical language of his people – the language of the law.
2 Corinthians 5:21 states that Jesus was made to be sin for us, it was during this time that the son was blotted out in the world was in darkness, with darkness been a symbol of the judgment that was made upon mankind for his sin, wherein Jesus became our representative – the Lamb of God that died for the sins of the world. This is further validated in that Galatians 3:13 states that Jesus was made to be a curse for us.
We must understand this was not a question that Jesus was asking, because he didn’t know the answer.
This was not Jesus questioning God, this was Jesus making a statement, it was what we referred to as a rhetorical question.
This was a statement that he was making that the people should have been contemplating.
It was a local official of the world government Who was overseeing this judgment by man, a Roman centurion who declared that truly Jesus was a righteous man (Luke 23:47).
The earthly instrument used to condemn Jesus, framed the question that Jesus rhetorically stated, why would God kill a righteous man
This is the question of the age concerning Christianity:
The answer is because sin is just that unbearable to God, sin is that Malevolent and malicious, even when the sin is internal and within the thought processes of rational beings – God is so pure that he cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), even if it’s being born by his own son.
The problem is humans always attempt to rationalize our sin, to downplay it as not severe, and saying that it was just a thought sin is one of those rationalizations – but God will hear nothing of it.
Sins within our thoughts may seem to be small, but let me give you an illustration of why they are not.
The very first sin committed was committed by Lucifer.
Lucifer literally means “Morning Star” (Though he is referred to as “son of the morning”), meaning that he was the first (Hence the use of the word “morning”) of God’s creation that was beautiful (As the sun), and great as seen in the illumination of the sun – the greatest of our stars.
Yet whenever Lucifer sinned God changed his name to Satan, which means “adversary” as he became the adversary of God, who was also the accuser of mankind.
By pointing out the sin of mankind, accusing the brethren, this was a type of condescension wherein Lucifer was attempting to rationalize his own sin by pointing out the sin of others – Yet with God whereas there may be some that have sinned less, is not the same of being sinless.
Concerning this first sin by Lucifer the Scripture states:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” ( Isaiah 14:12-15)
What you will notice is that the first sin ever committed even before the existence of man, was a thought sin – it was what Lucifer told himself about himself, and what he was going to do.
He did not physically do anything, he merely entertained the thought upon the sinful premise that he would make himself greater than God.
He became so full of himself that he thought upon, and considered true the idea that because of the great power that God had given him, he was worthy of worship and was greater than God because he was doing God’s work.
Now we come to understand why those that are ministers have such great opportunity at failure.
The word minister means “to serve,” yet professional ministry is the type of service where one is seen out in such a way because of the leadership it entails that Ministers appear to stand above everyone else, Gaining the attention above all others which so easily puffs up and leads to pride, which if not addressed and dealt with breeds a form of arrogance and self-righteousness that has undermined many men’s ministries; due to them forgetting that is actually God’s Ministry wherein they are simply servants of the people.
That’s why it is so noteworthy that the first sin was the sin of pride.
Every sin Is Built on the Foundation of Pride
Pride is the foundation of every sin, wherein upon examining each sin self is worshiped (The word worship is to simple cognates: worth, being displayed) – self is given preeminence, and self is served.
Pride is self-centeredness, and every sin that we ever do is based upon self-centeredness – pride is the foundation of every sin, and seen in every sin man ever commits.
Lucifer was God’s right hand man and did the mighty works that God had told him to do, but he forgot that it was God that had empowered him to complete them, that it was God working through him – therefore he became proud and lifted up in his own thinking.
This is why those that attempt to call ourselves ministers must always remember that it is God that is working through them, and not them themselves, otherwise they will start to fall into the temptation of the greatest sin ever perpetrated in existence, the sin that Lucifer committed himself, the sin of entertaining thoughts that are against God’s will, thoughts of self-exaltation.
If you want a simple definition of sin, it is anything that is against God’s will – it is anything that falls short of His perfection, “it is missing the mark,” Even if it seems a simple as a mere thought that is held onto and maintained.”
Although our original consideration was vague regarding sins committed in our thought life, I have concluded with the particular sin of pride for a reason. Of all the sins that we entertain in our thought life, those that exalts itself, those that defend itself, those that make self build good about itself, even at the expense of harming others; these the types of thoughts which we maintain a higher level than one would think. Sexual thoughts are what many people think are the major category of sins committed in our thought life. Yet it is these other sins which promote, and as psychologist would rationalize, protect self which Eve aid detection because of the rationalization that we utilize in our thought process. Lucifer’s five statements of self seem to us to be completely unreasonable, yet it was the rationality that he maintained wherein pride blinded him to the lack of logic and what he was thinking.
Yet we never hear of him repenting, even to this day, I would love for someone to share a Scripture which indicates that he or the one-third of God’s legions of angels have repented (Meaning they change their mind to the extent that they even change their actions), or felt regret for their decision to come against God. When you really look at it this is a type of insanity – yet this is what pride does, it not only concerns itself with the exultation of self, but it’s most devious aspect is its ability to rationalize its actions. This is why I have honed in on pride as perhaps the greatest sin within our thought life that we need to address. It was the first sin in all of creation, therefore I think that this was because it was the most powerful system. It was the sin that brought disobedience and warfare into God’s kingdom.
I might suggest that you check out the following articles:
“LEGALISM ~ PRIDE” ~ LINK
“LEADERSHIP & AUTHORITY” ~ LINK
“PRIDE ~ PART 1 ~ ITS NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU MAY THINK” ~ LINK
“PRIDE ~ PART 2 ~ A PRAGMATIC TOOL ~ MEEKNESS” ~ LINK
Pride is not a very popular subject even within Christian circles. It is a subject if not dealt with will negate spiritual growth. I can sincerely say it is a subject that is easier to write about, then it is to read.
Let me pass along one insight if I may. Humility is not the absence of pride, is what you do to fight pride. Biblically speaking, if you choose to humble yourself voluntarily, you will not force God into humiliating You in front of others. God loves us so much He doesn’t stop putting us through training which He desires in order to prepare us in becoming closer to Christ’s image. It would be arrogant to assume that we could get very close to maintaining the “Mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 12:2…), but we must understand that Christianity is a process, a process where we grow in faith, and we obey because we trust what God has said is true and necessary for our lives, as contained in His Word.