“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” (Acts 3:19).
We have been taught that any sin is a deadly sin, and but for repentance, it will send you to hell. The above verse certainly supports this spiritual truth. However, many of us also have been taught – wrongly I might add – that there are no degrees of sin. There certainly are degrees of sin, and there are a number of verses in the Bible that point to why I would reach such a conclusion. For the sake of argument, I will provide one passage from the lips of Jesus himself:
“The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more,” (Luke 12:46-48).
The greater spiritual question here, however, is what to do when there is a greater moral truth that would be served by committing one sin at the expense of ignoring another? Stay with me here. I never want to be perceived as encouraging sin. The truth is, however, that we all find ourselves in moral dilemmas in which we must make choices, any one of which could be viewed as sinful. What’s the right thing to do on such cases?
I am not sure I broadly can answer such a question. In fact, it would not be appropriate for me without knowing more about the specific circumstances. However, there may some guidance in the Old Testament that at least supports that God recognizes that decisions like these occur in life. In Exodus 1, the Egyptian king was concerned about an exploding Hebrew population and commanded Hebrew midwives to kill every male newborn child. “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women,” the king stated, “and see them on the birth stools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live,” (Exodus 1:16).
The midwives refused to do as the king ordered, but when asked why, they lied to him about it. “So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?’ And the midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them,’” (Exodus 1:18-19).
Is it OK to lie to save a child? Both are sins in the eyes of God, but none of us would blame the Hebrew midwives for their chosen course of action. Apparently, God did not either because the Bible records, “Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that he provided households for them,” (Exodus 1:20-21).
Don’t let anyone tell you that any and all of life’s choices can be made free of sin. It is simply not true. Paul clearly pointed out in his own life that he often did not understand his own actions. “O wretched man that I am!” the apostle proclaimed in Romans 7:24.
There are times that we must choose the more righteous course of action. As long as we have peace about it and repent of it, God will continue to love us. On that point, there can be no debate.
Write to Mike Ruffin at email@example.com. His website is devotions.com.