The Relativity of Sin

Humanity has a habitual dependance on the notion of  relativity. It’s because of this notion that art is so poignant. Art is an expression of emotion, all relative to the artist’s perspective on the world. However, the way the art is seen through the eyes of the viewer may convey and trigger different emotions. We say a piece of art is successful when the emotion that is conveyed is the same one that is received. Yet some would challenge this, saying that all art is successful, as long as emotion is expressed and emotion is received, regardless of the similarity between the two. How is this possible? Through the lens of relativity.

Many people, especially in the collegiate world will say that everything is relative, all depending on your own perspective. This of course, includes truth. However, in the eyes of a Christian, we see that there is absolute truth and relative truth. The bible is full of absolute truth, especially in the Gospel, which lays out several truths for examination. They are:

  • Our world is broken and full of sin. Every person sins, creating a wall dividing us from the pure and holy God.
  • This pure and holy God sent his son, Jesus, who was the only man to live without sinning. He is fully God and fully man.
  • In his perfection, Jesus took on the penalty of all our sins, which is death. When he did this, we were justified in the eyes of God, thus leading to sanctification and glorification.
  • Jesus rose from the dead 3 days later, and after spending 40 days on earth ascended into heaven. He will return to Earth at the time of judgement. In his stead, he has given us the Holy Spirit.

These absolute truths are the foundation of the Christian walk. We cannot believe in the power of God’s grace without these.

But this mean that for Christians, there is no relativity? Absolutely not! What we see with our own eyes is twisted by our own thoughts and experiences, and is not always as the world really is. For all intensive purposes, we are color blind, only seeing certain tones and hues that stand out to us. Only true sight comes through God. God sees the world in absolute truth, because He is the truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

God sees us in absolutes. We are imperfect sinners. There is no one who is a greater sinner than the other.

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
James 2:4

If one sinner was greater than the other, then Jesus would have died more for one person than the other, opening a paradox that the all-powerful God has to put more effort to die for one person than the other, and leading us into a spirit of pride, saying that we are greater than one another, and a spirit of doubt, asking if there is a sin that Jesus’s death could not cover. Paul assures us, that all of are sinners (equally) and God’s grace covers all.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Romans 3:23-24
And all if all sinners are seen as equal, then that means that our sins are also seen as equal. The sins of Hitler are equal to the sins of Mother Teresa and Christ died for both.
This doesn’t sit well with us. We fight this. We see Hitler as more evil than Mother Teresa, setting them (and ourselves) on a scale of relativity. On this scale, we say that genocide is worse than lying, yet God sees them as equal.  Why do we do this? Out of pride. We want to be able to say, “At least I’m doing better than him.” We want to elevate ourselves. Our judicial system does this, and while it works very well in the court of law, it does not work well in the court of our Heavenly Father.
As a Christian, there are sins that I forgive easily than others. For example, I can quickly forgive someone of a “white” lie, yet will struggle for days with the thought of forgiving a sexual offender. In the mind of the world, this makes sense. But we are not of the mind world.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2
So what? This means I have to strive to look at my sins as God does, as all of them result in death.
As the church, we struggle with this as well. There as sins happening in our pews that we choose not to fight against, or choose to ignore. There are people we right off, regardless of how we treat each other. We strive to hold ourselves to look like the perfect family on the wall, instead of admitting to ourselves, each other, and God that we have fallen short of His glory, and we need His salvation every day.
A great example of this is how comfortable we are with gossip in the church. Your news is everyone’s news, whether you want it or not. Yet we abhor the thought of pornography and premarital sex. If we are not careful, this mentality can lead to lifting a sin, or better yet, the conquering over a sin on a pedestal, and can lead to idolatry.  Does this mean that we should not care about the sins of each other? No! It means we go after each sin with the same zeal, with the purpose being to lift God up, not ourselves.
When the focus of our lives is to reflect the Gospel, we must strive to reflect the grace of God in all aspects of our lives, including how we look at the world, and the way we look at ourselves. Through the holy spirit, we can slowly find ourselves seeing the world in its true colors, through the lens of the glory and hope of God.
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