Sins We All Commit Without Knowing They Are Sin (pt 1 of 4)
This post begins a new series on what I consider to be lesser known sins. The series will be four parts long, with the last three parts focusing on three specific Scriptural commands that when we neglect them, we sin. This post will seek to lay some groundwork and serve as a kind of introduction to the series.
I think it is safe to say that everyone who has had exposure to Christian teaching either through church, neighbors, friends, family, or from the Bible itself, knows what sin is. We all know that sin is all the wrong things we do. We are also well aware of what these sins are. For example, we know that adultery is sin. We know that murder is sin. We know that greed, hatred, jealousy, lying, stealing, and various forms of sexual immorality are all sin. These are things we have labeled as sin and try to avoid and rightfully so because they are sinful and do not reflect an obedient heart to the Lord.
However, while all these things and more are indeed sins, it seems to me that the Bible sets an even higher standard than many realize. Most people tend to think of sin in a sense as one-dimensional. They tend to view sin as only things that they do. These can be rightly categorized as sins of commission. These are the sins that we commit by doing certain actions or having certain thoughts. I listed several of these sins above and there are many more and the Bible talks about them frequently. I in no way desire to minimize these sins because they are extremely important. Paul wrote a few occasions that we ought to “put off” such sins (Col 3:5-9; cf. Eph 4:20ff).
On the flip side, however, I think it is just as important to recognize that there is a second category of sin that often gets neglected. Not only are there sins of commission, but there are also sins of omission. These are sins which occur when we fail to do something that we know is right (James 4:17). If this is a new concept for you, then it may take a little getting used to looking out for sins such as these. Because of this, I think it can be helpful to start at the most basic of levels. Have you even seen something lying on the floor of your home that someone else put there and you didn’t pick it up, because, well, you didn’t put it there? It would have been good to do it, but you didn’t do it. I do not think it is a stretch to identify that as sinful neglect. You knew it was good to do, and you didn’t do it; you sinned. (In case you are not convinced, just read James 4:17 a time or two.) What about those times you had an opportunity to share helpful information with a co-worker and failed because “It’s none of my business”, or when you had an opportunity to encourage a friend who was feeling down but you were “busy” or what about all the times you’ve said “it’s not my job”? These are good deeds left undone and the Bible makes it undeniably clear that these things are sins we must account for someday.
Now, I do not write all this in an attempt to send a guilt trip on people. That is not the point. The point is that sometimes we let ourselves get so focused on abstaining from certain kinds of sins that we leave ourselves blind to the other side of the coin. If we desire to be Christ-like individuals who pursue obedience to the Lord, sooner or later we must step up to the plate and be honest about things that we may not have previously thought of as sin but are still sin nonetheless. I recommend sooner rather than later.
In an attempt to help make us all more aware of these kinds of sins, I am writing this series. This post helps set the stage for the specific sins that we will look at in subsequent posts. One of them is actually a sin of commission, something that we actively do that grieves the Lord, and two of them are sins of omission, areas where the Lord has given specific commands and when we fail to do them, we sin. I know that this is not exactly the most upbeat series that could be written, but the Bible is not always happy-go-lucky. Sometimes it deals with the nitty gritty and when it does, we must as well. So stay tuned and we will examine three specific sins that everyone I know has committed (including me) and most of the time we aren't even aware that it is sin.