Thursday, January 28, 2010

Defining Sins of Omission

I am always amazed at how little you either read or hear the word sin in today’s world. Even within many churches it seems we have euphemized the word by referring to people’s sin as a personality shortcoming, an addiction, a social quirk. It is not surprising in one sense given we have become a society that emphasizes the individual above society as a whole. Given this mindset, sin becomes an insidious word because it conveys wrong doing and personal accountability to a holy God and to each other.

With this in mind, I wanted to try to tackle this issue of sin, specifically the sins of omission as I believe the majority of the world acutely understand the sins of commission, those acts or thoughts we commit that God has forbidden (see Romans 1:28-32 for an extensive list of these sins).

The sins of omission are a little trickier in that you will not find a neat and tidy list like the one found in Romans. A sin of omission is a failure to do something one can and ought to do and is defined by the Lord Himself in Matthew 25: 44-45, “Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.” Also, James 4:17, states, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” I believe the sins of omission are much more indicative of our relationship with God than the ones of commission, especially for the Christian.

I found a great commentary by the folks at on this issue of sins of omission that I want to detail in part here. Let’s look at Zephaniah 1:12 for further insight, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.” The religious Jew of that day was not on the streets committing horrible crimes like murder, rape or armed robbery. These verses speak about the thousands of ordinary people who were stagnant and indifferent toward their relationship with God. Their problem was not what they did, but what they did not do.

Nor does God accuse the Jew of the more apparent sins in Romans 1. He is angry with him because of what he is not doing! He is not a true and faithful witness, and indeed cannot be, because of his poor judgment in prioritizing his life. In focusing on his selfish pursuits and self-centeredness, he leaves God almost completely out of his life. Still, he bears the name of God, attends Sabbath services, and at least in a superficial way, worships God. Yet the relationship is growing cold as he fails to seek Him earnestly as in courtship.

I have come to realize in my own walk with the Lord that sins of commission have been stripped away from my life over the years as I have allowed the Spirit of God to cleanse me and give me victory. The sins of omission, however, I have found to be much tougher because they demand that my relationship with the Lord be right at all times. He does not just want me to stop doing certain things; he wants ALL of me.

Please comment and let me know if your experience has been similar and how you have found victory over the sins of omission.

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