Small Sin = Small God, Big Sin = Big God

We make a HUGE mistake when we minimize the idea of sin. Though it makes us feel better, it makes our God look small.

It’s understandably tempting to downplay our failures. Sin isn’t fun to talk about, so in some circles we don’t. This may be a backlash against an over-emphasis in the past – the classic “hellfire and brimstone” preacher wouldn’t be welcome in most churches today.

And of course awareness of sin doesn’t build a positive self-image. It’s discouraging to hear how far we fall short of God’s expectations. We’d rather be happy, and make others happy, so we prefer to talk about pleasant topics. Sin is not high on that list.

Whatever the reason, it’s a HUGE mistake to minimize the idea of sin. Because as our awareness of sin gets smaller, so does our picture of God.

Here’s how it works. If in our mind we’re mostly OK, if we’re just slightly flawed people who have a good heart and try our best but can’t quite get there, then God’s loving intervention in our lives is appreciated, but not overly surprising. We’re like the smart kid in class who gets some well-deserved attention from the teacher, but who was already doing pretty well without it.

But that’s not the way the Bible describes us. We aren’t mostly OK, we aren’t born with a good heart, and “our best” doesn’t even register on God’s radar screen. Isaiah 64 says that our righteous acts are like filthy rags before God – I cringe to think what our pride and lust and anger look like in His eyes. In Ephesians 2, Paul describes the human race as dead in sin – not handicapped, not disabled, not terminal. Dead.

Not mostly dead. Not almost dead. Just … dead.

Against the backdrop of that bad news, now we get to the good news. It won’t make you feel better about yourself, but it will give you a more awe-inspiring understanding of God.

He knows everything about you. He sees every self-centered act, He hears every arrogant boast or gossipy remark, and He knows every fantasy that you welcome into your mind. He is aware of the sins you notice, and He is aware of the ones you don’t.

And get this – amazingly, He loves you anyway! He really does. Paul celebrates that incredible fact in Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners (wait, read that phrase again, it matters) Christ died for us.”

Do you see now what a mistake we make when we minimize our sinfulness? If our sin is small, then God’s love is small. It’s not hard to love the lovable, to reach out with compassion to those who just barely fall short and need a bit of a boost. Goodness, even you and I can do that. It’s not very impressive.

But if our sin is huge, and ugly, and repulsive, and inherently unlovable, then God’s love for us is … well, it’s amazing! It’s awesome! It’s unique to Him. It’s worth celebrating. It deserves to be the focus of songs and poems and prayers, as has been the case for centuries, and will be the case in heaven forever.

My knowledge of myself is limited, but even with that incomplete grasp of my sin, I could never see myself worthy of the sacrifice of Christ. That makes it all the more astounding that He knows me to the core, has understanding of me that is painfully complete, and He died for me anyway.

THAT is love! It’s a love that I can barely imagine – the kind that I could never deserve. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life, and far longer, trying to understand it.

I invite you to do the same.

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About Sabbath Thoughts

My name is Mike Gaston. I am a former missionary, a Shepherding Pastor at Heights Church in Prescott, AZ, a happy husband, a spoiled father of two daughters, a proud grandfather, and a recently-convinced pursuer of the benefits of intentional, regular, contemplative, Christ-centered rest. This blog will allow me to share thoughts about Sabbath, as well as thoughts about God and the Christian life that come out of my restful Sabbath moments.
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12 Responses to Small Sin = Small God, Big Sin = Big God

  1. Ken Royer says:

    Amen. Excellent thoughts. Thanks.


    Ken Royer for Mary too

  2. Ruth Sanders says:

    Please send articles to me. Small Sin was awesome.

    • I’m glad it was encouraging , Ruth. It’s easy to receive future posts as an e-mail, but I can’t do it for you, you need to subscribe. There should be a “Follow” button in the lower right corner of your browser window when you are reading the blog. Just click on it, enter your email address, and you’ll be all set. You may need to disable pop-up blockers to allow it to work. Blessings!

  3. Bill McNeil says:

    Reading this blog, and enjoying your “Sabbath Thoughts” makes me regret not being able to meditate on His word to the fullest. Even on a 2 mile walk my mind tends to wander all over the place. I wish I had a “pop up blocker” for my head.

  4. Jason Klopfenstein says:

    Great post of a much needed reminder for every believer and unbeliever. Being a good person is so popular in our culture and gives us the feeling of goodness and serving others as being enough to be loved by God.

  5. Tim Ryerson says:

    I wobble between the shame of big sin and the self-righteousness of small sin. Your blog entry will be on my mind as I continue to seesaw my way down the narrow path to victory. Well done pastor!

  6. steve kilker says:

    Hi Mike! Thanks for the gentle yet clear refresher course on our true spiritual condition. Often when I teach children I remind them that there is only one person who knows everything about us and loves us anyway. I don’t actually understand that. I am forever thankful. What is equally perplexing to me is the fact that He doesn’t need me for anything. Long before I was created He was perfect in self sufficiency. In full knowledge of the disappointment and suffering to come, in love, mankind was created. So glad we have a God so far beyond our comprehension. So glad He is who He is.
    Thanks, Mike, for arresting my attention and focusing my thoughts on our incredible God!

  7. I’m glad He is who He is too, Steve. If He were something else, we’d all be in trouble. Miss you, my friend. Come see us!

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