Even the Smallest Sin...
October 17, 2018
I was intrigued to read the results about what evangelicals profess to believe concerning key biblical truths in 2018 in Ligonier Ministries' State of Theology survey. Among the many shocking findings was the conclusion on the category dealing with the just punishment for sin. Out of 3002 respondents in the US, 58% rejected the idea that "even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation." Of the 2133 surveyed in the UK, 62% rejected that same doctrine. Unlike several of the other findings, in which there is a noticeable shift in the beliefs of 18 year olds from those of 65 year olds in the church, there was uniformity of rejection in the represented age groups. That ought to give us pause about what has and what is being taught in our churches.
As I read these findings, my mind drifted to the interchange between Anselm and his associate Boso in Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man?), in which Anselm pointedly told his theologically confused understudy, "You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin." Further on, Anselm said, "So heinous is our sin whenever we knowingly oppose the will of God even in the slightest thing; since we are always in his sight, and he always enjoins it upon us not to sin." This, in turn, reminded me of those words of C.S. Lewis, in his preface to Milton's Paradise Lost, in which he wrote of the nature of Eve's sin, "She who thought it beneath her dignity to bow...to God, now worships a vegetable."
All sin--even the least sin--is a worshipping of self or some other created thing. It is, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "exchanging the truth about God for a lie and worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (Rom. 1:25). Sin is transgression against the infinite and Eternal God and therefore each and every sin deserves infinite and eternal punishment. The writer of Hebrews captures this principle when he writes that according to the Law of God, "every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution" (Heb. 2:2). God requires perfect, personal and perpetual obedience of all men throughout all time to His Commandments. This is why we need a Savior who keeps the law perfectly for us and takes the burden of our guilt upon himself on the cross. When we come to see the greatness of our guilt we begin to see our need for the greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Infinite and Eternal Son of God incarnate in the flesh.
May God give us grace to see that the least sin we have committed deserves eternal judgment so that we might more fully trust in the Eternal One who took that judgment on Himself on the cross having, as it were, suffered the pains of hell for us.