Which is the Greater Sin

By David M. McNabb

Two great issues have dominated the modern Christian agenda: abortion and homosexuality. Today, these topics have come to define Christianity.

It is true, God's word has much to say about the sanctity of life, and a great deal is written concerning sexual conduct (and, of course, misconduct). Judgment, however, must begin at the house of God, and there are sins that are greater than these in the His eyes.

While churches continue to appear in the news for their anti-abortion and their anti-homosexuality rallies, divorce rates among professed Christians have risen to levels equaling - and sometimes exceeding - those among the unbelievers. Yes, God did say that homosexuality and "passing your children through the fires of Molech" were both abominations, and thus things which He hates. Yet, by the mouth of the prophet Malachi, He declared that He hates divorce! Where are the protests at the divorce courts? Shall God punish the heathen for their sins, and ignore the sins of His own people?

Which is the greater sin? As we gather in our houses of worship, we sing, "Sweet is the tender love Jesus hath shown, Sweeter far than any love that mortals have known; Kind to the erring one, faithful is He; He the great example is, and pattern for me." Then we turn to our spouse and say, "We've grown apart. I love you, but I'm not in love with you." God said, "I will never break my covenant with you;" Christ told us, "Lo, I am with you alway." Paul made the direct correlation of these statements to the marriage covenant. He said, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

With a cry of "The Lord is with us!" Christians gather to battle against same-sex marriage, taking their second and third spouses with them. Can we boldly say that God is with us? We expect the Lord to keep His promise to us, while reserving for ourselves the right to opt out of our own vows. The Lord said, "If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses"; how much more does God require us to fulfill our vows?

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 declares, "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God." Yes, it is very important to God that we fulfill our vows.

When Abraham raised his hand to slay his son Isaac at the word of the Lord, the Lord said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." In this act of obedience, Abraham proved himself in the eyes of God. Likewise, God has set the criteria for true sons of God; He said, "Surely they are my people, children that will not lie."

Like Abraham, we have an opportunity to prove ourselves to God every day by keeping our promises. Do you keep your vows? Have you borrowed money from anyone, and promised to pay them back? Have you signed the credit card receipt, which says "Cardholder agrees to pay..."?

What moral authority do the children of God possess, when their moral compass is ineffectual in their own lives? Church has become big business, and conventional wisdom is convinced that gain is godliness. While it is still relatively easy to rally around a message against homosexuality, with our heads and hands held high, crying, "Thank God we're not like them!", it is "difficult" to tackle the subject of divorce from the pulpit, because the people - and their wallets - will find a preacher elsewhere who is more sympathetic to their particular needs. Like divorce, bankruptcy is a common occurrence among professing believers, and some of today's "name-it, claim-it" preachers are slow to take the less popular stand for fulfilling our fiscal obligations.

But, which is the greater sin? Extramarital relationships and cohabitation are equally complicated sermon topics, since such behavior has become acceptable by society at large, and has thus come to be commonplace among professed believers as well. Although it seems that sermons against abortion can stir the hearts of God's people to action, messages condemning living together and sexual relationships outside of the marriage covenant would more closely address the root of the problem. Abortion is not the disease - it is but a symptom.

The word of the Lord declares, "Profane not thy daughter, to make her a harlot; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness" (Lev. 19:29 ASV). Because we have not taught our young women to be chaste and discreet, they have allowed their bodies to be defiled. Whoredom has filled the land, and violence has followed. It is because of promiscuity that unwanted pregnancies abound; the violence of abortion is a direct result of the disregard for the God-ordained institution of marriage. Address this root cause, and abortion will automatically decrease.

Nevertheless brethren, before you run out to teach abstinence in the public school, maybe you should consider teaching it in the Sunday school. Which is the greater sin? Is it the one that other people are committing? Or is it the one we ourselves are committing?

You may say, "Yay! Praise the Lord! I'm for abstinence! I'm for marriage! Hallelujah!" But, have you determined in your heart to hate what God hates, to hate every false way? Or are you determined to have a buffet-style form of religion: picking and choosing your beliefs as it pleases you?

Do you learn the ways of the heathen when doing so appeals to pragmatic sensibilities? When we go out to be "salt and light" and change society, do we allow Satan's deceptive message of effectual political activism to guide our pursuits, or do we rest in the gospel of Christ, which is the true power of salvation to all those who believe. Righteousness will not be ushered in by an act of congress or a president's signature; no activist judge - conservative or liberal - will cause righteousness to run down like a mighty stream. It is God's living word, written in our hearts, that will turn the world upside-down.

With the creation of the Moral Majority, Christian political activism took center stage. Since then, God's people have sought to influence society through the democratic process. If we would learn anything through biblical history, we would know that the will of the people is all too often at odds with the will of God.

Politics was the pitfall of Herod, Pilate and the leaders of the Jews. Their desire to win the favor of Caesar's government caused them to pass the death sentence upon an innocent man, and let a murderer go free.

So it is today. The political process nearly always leads to a choice of the lesser of two evils. When ever did the Lord God call us to choose the lesser of two evils? Did He ever say, "I set before thee this day two evils: Choose thou the lesser of them"? Without equivocation, the word of the Lord resounds with a NO! Your choices: good and evil; choose the good.

God's word says that whoso lives by the sword shall die by the sword. If we choose to live by politics, it will be our downfall. This is already proving itself to be true. Even as pharaoh saw the strength of the Israelite immigrants and afflicted them with burdens, so also do the powers that be recognize the strength of the Christian community. They, too, are taking steps to limit the Christian's political influence, and already virtually eliminated the greatest name in human history from the political forum: the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

How do you eliminate the political power of Christians? You outlaw it by calling Christian talking points "politically incorrect." Having bought Satan's first message of deceit that our power is in politics, the devil now reveals his bait and switch ploy: tolerance. This second lie of Satan - that Christ and His followers practiced tolerance - is an effective attempt to silence the true believer. We do want to be Christ-like, do we not?

And so, while banning our invocation of the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ, they invite us to interfaith services where we can pray together according to our own faith traditions. WHAT?!? You hypocrites, how can I pray in my faith tradition, yet not do so in the matchless name of Christ my Lord? Shall I fear man more than God?

Surely brother Paul went by invitation to the pagan temple of Mars. He did not, however, join them in an interfaith prayer; he gave them the word of truth: "Now God commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained," even Jesus Christ the Son of the God. When you go to the interfaith meeting, are you compelled to call the unbeliever to repentance, or are you content to pray beside them in peace, with their blood on your hands?

Nimrod led the people in rebellion against God, and they said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Let us never add our voices to their rebellion; we have no need to make a tower or name for ourselves, for "The name of the Lord is a strong tower." Hallelujah!

Which is the greater sin? But you say, "I am faithful and committed to my marriage. I am not political. I pay my debts." Shall you now worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are you willing to forsake the ways of the heathen, which God has not commanded? Or are you determined to cut down a tree and deck it with gold and silver for Him? Shall you worship Him after His way, or will you continue to offer Him unacceptable offerings?

The Lord commanded Moses to make incense which would burn continually before Him. The recipe was very specific, the measurements exact, and it was not to be duplicated by anyone for any other purpose. God wants to be worshipped, but He wants us to use His recipe for worship. He ordained special times of the year: festivals to remind us the great works of God. We have forsaken His solemn feasts, and adopted the ways of the heathen.

Will you take the feast of Saturn unto yourselves, calling it "the mass of Christ," and it be acceptable in the sight of God? Will your material lusts and rebellious heart come up with acceptance on His altar? The Lord says, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols."

Truly you feel you have rejected the bad parts of paganism, and only taken the best parts of their worship unto yourselves, but is that not what cost Saul the kingdom? Did not God command him to utterly destroy the ways and means of the Amalekites? But he took "the best" to offer to Jehovah. Shall it be accepted? No, for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Which is the greater sin? Is it the sin which the heathen have sinned, or which His people have committed? Jesus said that Judas' sin, and the sin of rulers of the Jews, was greater than the sin of Pilate. The flood came not upon the earth for the sins of the sons of men, but for the sins of the sons of God, who had violated His holy law.

Be not children of disobedience, but seek the face of God and learn His ways. His promise to you is sure: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

You must utterly reject all the ways of the heathen and every false way. Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.

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