Have you ever wondered what the worst sin is? Most people have some kind of sin list of “really bad sins.” Some folks have a list of “more permissible sins.” I guess the question that matters most is – does God have a sin list?
If we were to gather up a list of what each person on the globe thinks should be on a sin list, we’d have an interesting document. The data might vary from culture to culture, but there would likely be common worst sins.
People fall in different places when it comes to sins. Some abhor the very idea of being on a sin list, and they come up with all kinds of justifications why they couldn’t possibly be on any list. (This is a kind of pride with fingers of insecurity.) Others know it’s absurd to claim not sinning, but they take things to the opposite extreme and confess to almost every short-coming imaginable. (This is often a kind of insecurity with threads of subtle pride). Still others deny any sin list at all. (This is arrogance!)
A Helpful Way To Look at The Sin List
There is a helpful way to look at a sin list. It’s God’s way. He never exaggerates, nor is He rude or blame-placing. God doesn’t even track sins – although He is very aware of every single sin. It is safe to say a couple of things about God and sin:
- Sin was never supposed to be! It was not in God’s original design.
- God hates (abhors) sin. Why? It separates His beloved children from Himself and all that is good for them.
- He deeply loves all sinners with everlasting love.
- Every person who has ever lived is a sinner (except Jesus). That includes you and me.
- Christ died for all sinners – took the punishment into His own humanity and away from us.
- Jesus offers eternal life as a free gift in exchange for sinners giving their sin list to Him. Wow – what a trade!
- Every person who gives their life to Jesus is made – holy.
- Holy people are busy changing the world.
- Jesus will return (could be soon) and take every believer to their forever home of discovery and joy.
- Sinners who reject Jesus’ sacrifice condemn themselves. They will have made a decision to stay far from Christ forever (hell).
A Sin List In The Scriptures
There is a hefty list of sins in 2 Tim. 3:1-9. The passage starts by claiming there will be all kinds of trouble in the last days. It closes by saying people will oppose truth, be corrupt in their minds, be disqualified in their faith, and not get very far in their folly. Sound anything like today?
The middle section of that passage has a long list of sins. Here it is. People will be:
- Lovers of self.
- Lovers of money.
- Disobedient to their parents.
- Without self-control.
- Not loving good.
- Swollen with conceit.
- Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
- Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
- Always learning but never arriving at a knowledge of the truth.
Oh, wow! What a list! So I ask you again – sound anything like today? If you managed to read through that list unscathed – you are a better person than me (and everyone else). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
A Sin List Represents Something
This sin list represents humanity in our fallen state. It is a peek into what terrible times will be like in the last days before Jesus returns. And it represents what is going on in our world today. A reasonable conclusion? We very well could be living in the last days. Time is short.
Sins on God’s list cause relationship problems, moral issues, awkward tangles, and make life a very bumpy ride. Each sin adds to a turned-upside-down world. Loving pleasure more than loving God marks a self-driven world. We surely need Jesus to point us back to what humanity was designed to be. You can be the very person God created you to be.
Which Sin Is The Worst?
Since God has not declared one sin worse than others, no human can make that determination, either. God does, however, list one command first in the Ten Commandments. That’s significant – “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:3)
And when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Mt. 22: 36-38) Clearly, having anything in your life that comes before loving God violates this great and first command.
Still, sin is sin to God. And Jesus died for all sin. I’d like to suggest one sin that is very serious specifically for God’s people. This sin is in the list above. It not only works against God’s great and first command. It also puts forth a path of the very cycles that trap Christians in patterns and habits of deception, justification, and hypocrisy. That sin is having a form of godliness but denying its power. (vs. 5) Why is this one so serious?
A Form Of Godliness
Having a form of godliness but denying its power sets a person up to fail. Who wants to do that?! Further, it makes a child of God to be a fake, a shell, a robot, a hypocrite (a Pharisee). Do you know anyone who’s dream is to be like that?
Perhaps not. Still, pretending to be someone but denying the very essence of all that makes you that person is a serious misrepresentation and a terrible loss. That’s why Christ’s claims are so critical and powerful. For a believer in Jesus to claim to be godly but deny the power of God to make them godly – it’s completely illogical!
Claiming godliness with no power leaves a person depraved and living in conflict. Denying God’s power to complete the good work He begins in your heart is making God a liar. (Phil. 1:6) Further, you will never love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – or love your neighbor if you claim godliness that is void of power. But isn’t that what many church-going believers do today? And since loving God and loving others are the first and second greatest commands, refusing to adopt the power in them creates a barrier to knowing God and being godly. It’s a hopeless circle.
But – what if there is power in godliness? What if everything God says He will do is dependable? What if the power that raised Jesus from the dead can transform your life and empower you to help change the world? Maybe it’s the real-deal.
Why not throw your lot into believing God? Adopt a perspective that He is the power that makes you genuine. He connects you to the real you and will finish the work He started in you – if you stop denying His power and start living in it. Why not proclaim the all-powerful God holds all things together, including your life each day? (Col. 1:17) You can deliberately choose to live inside God’s love and goodness. Choosing is your will power.
Believing the power of Jesus Christ will change your life and give you a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)
He Gives You Over
The Lord is faithful in every way. He will always forgive, heal, and rebuild – if you repent. God honors the person who responds to Him. He is also faithful to follow through with consequences for unfaithfulness, including punishment – like any good parent.
The Sovereign Lord gives you over to what you pursue with your will. If you refuse His love, He gives you over to that choice. If you refuse to respond to His corrections, He allows consequences that break your life – and His heart. After all, He died so those things would not happen. If you choose to believe and live in God’s love and commands, He gives you over to every promise fulfilled.
Gal. 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” God keeps His Word. Col. 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
- Do you believe God has power to do anything?
- Have you resolved to believe He answers prayers? Your prayers?
- Do you know God loves you and is eager to finish the good work He began in you?
- What is keeping you from living in God’s power?
- God loves you and wants you to succeed. Don’t you want to succeed? Don’t you believe God can do anything?
God wants to give you an Alive and Active Life!
** This article is developed from 2 Tim. 3:1-9 and Day 33 of Despicable We: Daily Studies in Ezekiel – a book overflowing with hope and helpful tips for living in a world with a long sin list.