Friday, September 30, 2011
The Greater Sin
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” —Matthew 22:34–36
Here were the Pharisees, trying to trap Jesus with another question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:34–36).
They had endless debates about what commandments of the law were greater or lesser. They knew that no one could keep all of the commandments. Therefore, they identified some commandments as heavy and other commandments as light. We have a modern equivalent in the idea of describing sin as both mortal and venial, with the presumption that venial sin is bad, but it is not as bad as mortal sin.
The problem with this thinking is that it is not biblical. God doesn’t make those distinctions. One sin is enough to keep you out of heaven. The Bible says, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Having said that, some sins do carry greater penalties than others.
Jesus said to Pontius Pilot, “The one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). What Pilate was about to do was bad. He would have Jesus scourged and beaten beyond human recognition and nailed to a cross—ultimately murdering Him in cold blood. How could anyone commit a worse sin than this?
We don’t know the exact answer, but I see two options. First there is Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas studied the Word of God. He knew it was true, yet he intentionally and willfully sent Jesus to be crucified. Then there was Judas Iscariot. Judas spent three years with Jesus, walking and talking with Him. Yet he betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.
Pilate was what we might describe as a garden-variety nonbeliever, a classic pagan. On the other hand, Caiaphas and Judas knew better. And they still chose to sin.
Summary sentence: Sin is sin, yet some sins carry a greater penalty than others.
Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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