Posted by: Ety W. | June 2, 2008

Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?

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This is question that has come to mind as I’ve been researching the next concept in Titus 2:3-5, purity.

….. encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home …… Titus 2:4-5a (NASB)

Pure – Strong’s 53 – ’αγνος – hagnos = clean, i.e. (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect. The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon1 states, “Holy, pure, undefiled, ceremonially and ethically.” Used 8 times in the New Testament. In the KJV translated as chaste, clear, pure.

When I first read the above definition in Strong’s, the words “innocent” and “modest” made me think it meant sexual purity. Then I looked up all the verses it is used in the New Testament:

In everything, you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. 2 Cor. 7:11

…for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 2 Cor. 11:2

Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure….. let your mind dwell on these things. Phil 4:8

Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin. 1 Tim. 5:22

But the wisdom from above is first pure…. James 3:17

….as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Peter 3:2

… and everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3

From these verses, I tried to glean as much information as I could, using my observation skills to question the text:

Who is pure in these verses?
The Corinthians in a particular matter
A virgin bride

What is pure?
Wisdom from above

Who is to be pure?
The Church
Timothy as a church leader
Believers’ thought lives
Believers’ behavior
Individual Believers

What is to be pure?
Our thoughts
Our behavior

How do we become/remain pure?
Guarding our thought life
Taking care upon whom we “lay hands”
Fixing our hope on Christ

Why are we to be pure?
To be like Jesus

Sexual purity is part of it, but 2 Cor. 7:11 says, “in everything,” and Phil 4:8 says “whatever.” These broaden the definition to include a whole lot more. Which begs the question, is all sin equal?

James said:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10 (NASB)

One might be quick to point out that as Christians, we aren’t under The Law. Yet in context, James isn’t speaking of the Mosaic law, but of Jesus’ “new commandment”:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 (NASB)

The point I’m trying to make with the verse from James, is that something isn’t pure unless it’s 100% pure. Even seemingly harmless sins taint our purity and our testimony, for example telling “white lies,” or not returning borrowed items. And it’s not only our outward actions, but also our thought lives (see Matt. 5:28 in addition to Phil. 4:8 ), and the words we speak (see James 3:8-12) which are part of the purity equation.

Time for self-reflection:
Are some sins okay under certain circumstances?
Do some sins seem more or less acceptable than others?
Do I view all sin the same?
What “little” sins do I make excuses for so as to justify them?

Every sin can be repented of and forgiven by God except one. That one sin is the only thing that keeps people out of heaven; rejecting Jesus Christ. If we are not guilty of this, then we can strive to be pure in all other things. As Paul said:

For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.” Therefore “come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

Therefore, having these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor. 6:16b – 7:1 (NASB)

1 Wigram-Green, The New Englishmans Greek Concordance and Lexicon (Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers, 1982), p.11

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