If I were to ask either a non-Christian or someone who has left the church what their chief problem or disagreement is with the church, there is an answer that will be given 90% of the time. Many people who leave the church claim they leave because of the members’ judgmental nature. It’s no secret that the church has a reputation for being critical and condemnatory of other people who don’t believe what they believe. Whether we believe it or not, we are seen as the stiff-necked, “holier than thou” people who believe we are the only ones going to Heaven.
The Lord’s church is documented as being one of the largest opposing forces to sins such as homosexuality and with good reason. We are undoubtedly to oppose sins such as these that are abominations to God and are never to put our stamp of approval on them. Unfortunately, our staunch resistance and opposition to these “bigger” sins has led to a severe problem. Whether we admit it or not, we’ve slowly but surely started categorizing sin. Allow me to explain.
We, as New Testament Christians, sit and listen to sermons and Bible classes numerous times each week. Many times the lessons we hear are on topics such as abortion, homosexuality, pornography etc. As a result, we get a heavy dose of sermons that rightfully teach these behaviors as wrong. The negative aspect of that is that when we hear the word sin, these are the activities that emerge in our brain. Thus when we hear a sermon on sin or worldliness, our brain immediately shifts to homosexuality, murder, or some other “big sin.” Since the majority of Christians don’t struggle with the “big sins,” when we hear a lesson on worldliness or sin, we mentally check out. This automatically subdues any notion of self-examination or repentance in our minds.
Please hear me out, as I’m by no means saying that hearing sermons on homosexuality or stressing the sinfulness of adultery is wrong. What I am saying is that the constant barrage of lessons on the “big sins” has led to desensitization in the Lord’s church. Our categorization of sins, whether intentional or not, has led to a group of believers who really don’t believe they’re all that bad simply because they don’t commit any of the major sins. The Bible however, says otherwise.
Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” One of the most well-known verses in the New Testament is Romans 3:23 which reads, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We regularly quote these verses but we seem to ignore the implications. What these verses are saying is that we are just as evil as the terrorists who destroyed the world trade centers. We’re just as sinful as the homosexual down the street.
Despite what many New Testament Christians believe by implication, the categorization of sins is completely unbiblical. James 2:10 says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” What we don’t realize is that there are some people, even Christians who aren’t participating in any of the “big sins,” yet they are still living in sin. The same God who sees the murder of 130 people in Paris sees the rated R movies you go to see on the weekends. The same God who sees homosexual behavior sees the sensual, immodest clothing you wear in public. The same God who sees the murdering of innocent babies sees what you’re doing on the Internet.
Maybe part of the reason people in the world see us as self-righteous is because sometimes we are. It’s a travesty that in the church we are afraid to share or confess are struggles because we are afraid of being judged or negatively looked upon. God’s church was meant to be a place where confess our sins to each other and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and help each other in Christian love. Quite the opposite is the case today. We enter our church buildings today under such a façade, and we try to make others believe we have no struggles. Again, this is not the way it was meant to be.
What I’m hoping you’ll draw from this article is the fact that the way in which we mentally categorize sins in the church today has resulted in a severe case of false self-confidence. What I would encourage you to do in your Christian walk is to avoid categorizing sin and more importantly, to not overlook the ones you struggle with. Because we have to remember that on judgment day, God is not going to just judge the sins of homosexuality, abortion, and pornography. He’s going to judge every single sin, no matter how little we think they are, right along with what we consider to be the “major” sins. He’s going to judge every word we’ve said under our breath and every immoral thought we’ve ever had. Jesus Christ didn’t just die for the adulterers and murderers. He died for every broken, sinful human being including you and I.
By Will Harrub