Are there sins God forgives less?

(Luca) #1

Hi everyone. My friend in school (yes i finally found a fellow believer!) Told me of 7 deadly sins that are harder for God to forgive. Now i dont think that is true but what are your thoughts?

(Phil) #2

I think God has no trouble with forgiving our sin, but there are sins that are harder for us to confess and repent of, so the problem is on our end. Interesting to consider.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #3

I don’t follow the NT, but does it not say that all sins can be forgiven save blasphemy against the holy spirit?

(Jay Johnson) #4

Jesus does distinguish between the “weightier” things of the law – justice, mercy, faithfulness – in contrast to scrupulous observance of the “lesser” (by implication) laws, such as tithing (Matt. 23:23). You find the same theme in the prophets, contrasting religious ritual with true worship, and also in James, the Lord’s brother. Here are just a few examples:

Matt. 5:23-24
So then, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother and then come and present your gift.

James 1:27
"Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Isaiah 1:13-20
Do not bring any more meaningless offerings;
I consider your incense detestable!
You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations,
but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations!
I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies;
they are a burden
that I am tired of carrying.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I look the other way;
when you offer your many prayers,
I do not listen,
because your hands are covered with blood.
Wash! Cleanse yourselves!
Remove your sinful deeds
from my sight.
Stop sinning!
Learn to do what is right!
Promote justice!
Give the oppressed reason to celebrate!
Take up the cause of the orphan!
Defend the rights of the widow!
Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins have stained you like the color red,
you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,
you can become white like wool.
If you have a willing attitude and obey,
then you will again eat the good crops of the land.
But if you refuse and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
Know for certain that the Lord has spoken.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

And then there is also 1 John 5 … I’ll paste below.

16 If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal.

So there you see another explicit differentiation made between different kinds of sin. The NIV calls it “sin that leads to death” and “sin that does not lead to death”.

(Luca) #6

does God forgive those sins?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #7

I think @jpm’s answer (that the problem with forgiveness is more on our side than on God’s) is a pretty good answer to all this.

I don’t know what to make of the so-called “unforgivable sin” that gets a couple (or just one?) mysterious references in the gospels (from Jesus himself as I recall). Would need to look at commentaries to see what scholars think about that.

As to the sins that lead to death vs. those that don’t? I’ve no problem thinking God can forgive anything that we can forgive (and a lot more). We shouldn’t forget, though, that through parables Jesus reminds us in very stark terms that God’s forgiveness is inextricably tied into our own willingness to forgive those who have wronged us. Our failure to do that apparently leads to catastrophic consequences. And I don’t think we even need to wait until an afterlife to already see how those consequences play out. I’m reminded of the scene in the movie “Come Sunday” where Carlton turns to the bishop and asks him if he would get his own father out of hell if he could. The bishop’s answer? His father beat his mother and beat him, and deserves to be in hell, and no he would not remove him. The anger portrayed on the bishop’s face as he put this venom on full display was particularly telling (good acting – but not far from the mark of true life for many, I’m sure!)

I don’t know for sure if that is what is meant by “sin that leads to death” or not. But we certainly can see generational effects of sin that eat at people from the inside out who can’t let go of anger (and understandably so in many cases I’m sure!) But justified anger or not, such cultivated anger is really the abused letting the abuser continue to abuse them long after the abuser is gone. If that isn’t sin leading people to death, I’m not sure what a better example would be. I think God would see us free from all such sin. But if we aren’t willing – we can stubbornly hold on to it. God doesn’t force forgiving spirits down our throats, but he does command us to muster it up and then beyond that lean on God’s help to get ourselves where we need to be in that regard. Just ask the servant who was unmerciful to his fellow servant.

[with edits]

(Tom Larkin) #8

There are sins that lead to death (e.g. Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira) but that is a different topic than forgiveness of sins. Sins unto death are part of God’s discipline of His children, and God only disciplines His children, which means they believe and should have eternal fellowship with Him. David received a great deal of discipline and still remained a child of God. David was severely discipline for the sin with Bathsheba, but evidence of his forgiveness by God is that this sin was not even mentioned in the Book of Chronicles, which is understood to be written from God’s point of view, in contrast to Kings, which is understood to be written from man’s point of view.

The only unforgivable sin is a lack of faith.

(Luca) #9

I personally believed every sin leads to death. but if you follow Jesus and repent. The Lord will forgive us. is this the right view?

(Jay Johnson) #10

Yes. We’re somehow getting deep into the weeds, probably due to my involvement. haha. The common thread in Jesus’ discussion of sin that will not be forgiven and the (well-chosen) example of Ananias and Sapphira is the Holy Spirit. You can lie to men, but you cannot lie to God. When we call evil “good” and refuse even to see the need for repentance, then we are in dangerous territory.

In my view, the only sin that cannot be forgiven is the sin of unbelief. @Mervin_Bitikofer quoted 1 John 5, but I’ll move back a little bit to vv. 10-12:

Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #11

Most things above sound fair enough.

I don’t share in your certainty of that. Children are disciplined, to be sure. Even given over to sin, and yes, death. But probably not in the immediate sense that we hear about with Annanias and Sapphira. They are a pretty extreme example. Most liars don’t get smote on the spot today (or then either I would guess). You could be right, to be sure. I just expect there may be other explanations too. The discipline angle is a good thought to chew on.

That too I’m not certain of. Maybe you’re right about that.

I hope you aren’t right about that! If it were true then every one of us who ever goes through a season of doubt would be irreversibly condemned!

There’s just too much that is cryptic about Jesus’ words (won’t look up where these were right now) … where he said that everybody who sins against the son will be forgiven, but anyone who sins against the spirit will not. I’m still not sure what to make of such a passage, and nothing I’ve heard here yet sounds like a knock-down answer to it.

(Jay Johnson) #12

Haha. No, not that kind of unbelief. I’m talking about the same type of unbelief that John spelled out: Calling God a liar by refusing to believe his testimony to the Son. This isn’t wavering faith, a season of doubt, or even faith like a mustard seed, but stubborn refusal to believe. In other words, the only sin that cannot be forgiven is the sin of refusing to humble yourself and ask for forgiveness. The root of that is failure to recognize the need to be forgiven. The best example I can give is John 9, the story of the man born blind. I will restrain myself and just quote the climax, vv. 39-41

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to dissect just that one passage. I can kick it around some in the morning, if you haven’t solved it by then. :wink:

(Randy) #13

I really think that focusing on Christ’s and God’s understanding (see the notes by @AMWolfe about what a Christ follower is); opens our understanding better. When I was in my teens, I began to fear I’d lost my salvation because I’d committed a sin against the Holy Spirit. It got so that I was afraid of even thinking of the Holy Spirit for fear of doing it in a disrespectful way, so that would be blasphemy (Hebrews, etc were passages I focused on). It was a miserable time, and I think detracted from God’s character, which is consistent with Psalm 104 (As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him). It probably did lead me to some fear and dislike of religion. Thank God that I had grace filled parents who reminded me of what God really would be.
C S Lewis, who didn’t have a very close relationship with his father, wrote in “Surprised By Joy” that he spent hours on moonlit nights in his dorm room, trying to arrange his thoughts and prayers to be worthy and respectful enough of God. He counts that as a reason for his defection from the Christian faith eventually. When he encountered nonspecific spirituality, followed by atheism, it was a relief to realize he didn’t have to worry about that any more.[ edit: He left Christianity as a teen, but returned as an adult, apparently when reading one of George Macdonald’s books]
I’ve just purchased a book by Brian Zahnd, “Sinners in the Hand of a Loving God,” which likely will put a different view on that.
One interesting note–the Seven Deadly Sins reportedly showed up in Gilligan’s Island–one of my favorite shows when we were in the US on furlough–the Professor was Pride, Maryann Jealousy, Professor Howell Greed; Mrs Howell, Sloth; the Captain Anger and Gluttony, and Ginger, Lust. I used to think Gilligan was Sloth, but apparently some think he was Satan because he wore red :slight_smile:
I don’t believe any sins are unforgivable. I suppose you could purposely continually reject God, but that would be in the case, as Lewis said, where God finally gives in and says, “your will be done.”

I really jive George Macdonald’s view that punishment is to correct, not vindicate. In that way, Hell is actually the place where God is closest to us and finally teaches us all to change (maybe some of us would take as long as Hitler would to come round; who knows). Anyway, it’s an interesting idea.

(Laura) #14

Just so I’m on the same page, the origin of the idea of the “seven deadly sins” comes from Proverbs 6:16-19, correct?

Though I think it must have more to do with the number than anything else, as I don’t see the term “deadly” anywhere in that passage. I also don’t see anything about these sins being harder to forgive. But certainly the consequences of all of them can be very far-reaching – perhaps they are harder for us to bring about justice for here on earth, even if spiritual forgiveness is granted.

(Randy) #15

Good point! I never made the connection. However, attributes this to Pope Gregory; not sure if he used that as a reference or not. At one point, someone told me it was more of a Catholic idea/tradition. I think that the Catholic tradition enriches our understanding. I’m not sure of the reasoning, and would be interested to do more reading. But, I don’t think it’s really something we need to fear. I know I would be out on most of those sins anyway, along with probably the vast majority of Earth’s population!

(Christy Hemphill) #16

When forgiveness and grace are discussed in the NT, they’re concepts that are abounding, above and beyond, limitless, once and for all, etc…not something that is rationed out on a case by case basis depending on the severity of the infraction. Jesus dealt with sin and death on our behalf. Hebrews says we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and no fear of condemnation.

Our sins are a problem for us, not God’s grace. It is our sense of intimacy with God that is messed up. It is our relationships with other people, our Christian witness, our internal sense of peace, our ability to flourish that is hindered by our sin. Some sins definitely have more significant consequences and effects (on ourselves and on others) so it’s not necessarily wrong to think of some sins as worse than others. But the “worse” isn’t related to God’s forgiveness. Sin is sin. James 2:10 says if you stumble at just one point, you’re guilty of breaking the whole law. We aren’t graded on a curve. But Psalm 102:12 says that when God forgives us, he removes our sins as far and the east is from the west. It’s an infinite removal and it’s not dependent on what the sin was.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #17

Did you mean in that sentence to say … “for his defection to the Christian faith”?

Big difference in that one small word there!

(Randy) #18

Mr Bitikofer,
Good question. He left the faith as a teen from this and other reasons. It was as a mature adult, I think while reading one of Macdonald’s books, that he converted back to Christianity. Sorry…that created confusion. He certainly was an interesting character.

I edited the note above. Thanks–sorry!

(Mervin Bitikofer) #19

Thanks for the clarification! Now it makes sense. I had either forgotten or never knew that he left a childhood faith before he eventually returned.

(Jay Johnson) #20

I think folks are confusing the so-called “seven deadly sins” with what Catholic theology calls “mortal sins,” based on the same passage in 1 John 5 that @Mervin_Bitikofer quoted above, in comparison to venial sins. But that’s a whole 'nother discussion …