Right now, when you think about God looking at your life, what sin comes to mind? What are you embarrassed about? What keeps you from fellowship with your heavenly Father? Do you feel depressed and guilty? If so, I want you to understand the promises God makes to all of us. This information comes from God’s Word and is to encourage you.Let me begin by asking you a question: Do you think that you’re a small sinner or a big sinner? Most people believe they are small sinners. They have committed sins, but just the small ones, not the big ones. They don’t think that God is super-mad at them. They admit they have told a few white lies, lost their temper once in a while, but they are quick to tell you they go to church, pray and give a little money to God. They haven’t committed adultery, robbed a bank or committed murder. They consider those sins as the big sins. Is that you?
Then, on the other hand, there are some of you listening now who consider yourself to be one of the big sinners. You’ve done it all, over and over again. You have committed adultery or had premarital sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You are a slave to drugs or alcohol. Maybe you’ve had a secret abortion, you’ve indulged in homosexuality, or you’ve stolen money from someone, or worse, in anger, you tried to hurt or kill someone. Because you’ve done, and are still doing these sins, you have put yourself in the category of being a big sinner. You assume God doesn’t love you, and would never forgive you.
Well, now I want to make a statement to all of you that may surprise you. If you have never seen yourself as a big sinner, standing before God with no hope of impressing Him by your life and actions, then I believe you will never understand why the gospel is good news. You will never really experience God’s joy and peace. Only when you realize you are in desperate need of God’s mercy will you ever come to God the way you need to come.
Let me see if I can illustrate for you what I mean. In Galatians 5 there is a list of fifteen sins which Scripture says, “Those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” [Gal. 5:19-21] The first five are what many see as the big sins. They are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, and witchcraft. At the end of the list are the sins of drunkenness and orgies. But right in the middle of these so-called big sins, the lists the sins of hatred, strife, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy. Any of these sins can also keep you out of heaven. You might not think they are big, but God does.
Look at these sins a little more closely. Have you ever said you hated anyone? Hatred includes taking out one’s own vengeance on another person by some action, then by trying to hurt or destroy that person by what you say. Have you committed that sin? Strife or discord means a person has a contentious attitude toward others and keeps stirring things up between people. The sin of jealousy is the sick feeling you get when you are offended that someone is living a higher lifestyle than you are able to live. They have a bigger home, drive a nicer car, and work at a better job than you do. And you don’t like that one little bit. The Bible then lists rage or outbursts of anger. How often have you lost your temper? Next is the sin of selfish ambition. Do you only really care about accumulating things for yourself? Are you more concerned about what people think of you than what they think about God? Rounding out this list of sins that can keep you out of heaven are dissensions (those who argue and constantly disagree), factions, and envy (the desire to have some advantage or possession which belongs to another).
Have you committed any of these? Remember, these sins are right up there with idolatry and witchcraft. By the way, the sin of idolatry includes putting anything first before God. It can be sports, television, material things, your job, pride. If you put these things first before God, that’s idolatry. So be objective for a moment. Step back and look at your life. If God were to judge your life up to this point, and you have committed more than one of these sins and committed them over and over again, what would He conclude about your life? Would He let you into heaven?
While you’re thinking about that, let me give you another example that is kind of surprising. In 1 Corinthians 6 there is a list of sins which if people do them, they are called “wicked.” This list includes the sexually immoral, idolaters, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, and thieves. But right after these sins, it mentions “those who are greedy.” Greed is the desire to acquire more than you need or deserve. Then it mentions “slanderers,” those who utter false statements about other people’s character to ruin their reputation. Next, it mentions “swindlers,” those who cheat others to get money, property or something else under false pretenses. Are you guilty of any of these sins? Well, these so-called little sins are listed right along with the big sins. [1 Cor. 6:9-10]
The point that in this life some sins may bring more disastrous consequences. Some sins may hurt the ones we love more than others. Some sins may bring more dire health consequences than others. Before God, there may be different kinds of sin, but they are all damning sin. The reason that we sometimes delude ourselves into thinking we are not big sinners, terrible sinners, is that we constantly compare ourselves with others and not God’s standard.