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Sins of Omission

The Sinfulness of Sin: Omission

Sins of Omission
We know what we ought to be doing but we do not do it and as we’ll see, these are far more frequent and far more serious than we may initially think.
 
 
In our last post, we mentioned that Scripture categorizes two broad categories, or types of sin. The first, which we discussed, are sins of commission; sins that explicitly break God’s law, doing that which He commands us not to do. The second category is sins of omission. Put very simply, these sins are not doing what we are commanded by God to do. Whereas sins of commission break God’s law by defying it, sins of omission do so by ignoring it. Both do the same thing – they break the law of God and are therefore equally serious; but they do this in ways that look very different.
 
Sins of omission are usually not very obvious; we even have a hard time seeing them in ourselves, let alone in others. This is because they’re typically not consciously willful like our sins of commission so often are. Sins of omission aren’t usually external; they’re not “conscious choices” so to speak. Broadly speaking, the root cause of our sins of omission is usually a simple matter of carelessness. We know what we ought to be doing but we do not do it and as we’ll see, these are far more frequent and far more serious than we may initially think.
 
Although these sins are not as obvious to us, we still find them quite clearly in Scripture. In fact, we can look only as far as the Ten Commandments to find a couple of examples. For instance, the fourth commandment, “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). If you’re a Christian, you of course know this commandment and perhaps you don’t blatantly, outwardly violate it. You don’t go to work on Sunday; you don’t just go about your everyday business as if the Lord’s Day were any other day. We may take care to make sure we avoid these things on Sunday, but do we keep it holy? Do we truly set it apart from all other days, spending time meditating on the Word, spending time in continual worship, taking in Godly rest? This commandment, as we dissect it, does not fail to condemn every one of us as we see how negligent we are in fulfilling these duties.
 
Or look at the commandment right beneath it, “honor your father and your mother…” (Ex. 20:12). Again, we don’t need to be outwardly disrespectful to our parents in order to break this commandment; we can withhold honor without dishonoring them. Do we truly honor them as we’re called to, even when, from a human perspective, they don’t “deserve” it? I presume that the more we consider this, the more we’ll see our tendency to omit these aspects of the law.
 
Perhaps our most blatant sins of omission come in the neglect of our responsibilities as servants of Christ. We’re told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing,” and yet, who among us is not at times lethargic in prayer? We put off prayer. We leave it out of our days. We’re too busy to pray. We have too much going on to go before our God. We lose focus. We fail to pray for one another as we ought to. We forget to give thanks to God for all of His provisions and mercy. Or what about our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:17), or to “be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8)? Are we, as Christians, as God’s chosen people, taking every opportunity to preach the gospel? Are we active in proclaiming the Kingdom? Far too often, we look for subtle ways to even avoid this duty or we don’t even consider it. We omit these duties and that is sinful.
 
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus gives us the two great commandments, the sum of all the Law and the Prophets, by telling us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Every Christian knows and often quotes this passage, but let’s be honest; we never fail to fall short in both of these. Even the most pious of Christians are unable to love God with their whole being the way he deserves to be loved; and not one person continuously loves others more than themselves and puts the needs of their neighbors above their own. These are sins of omission! They are examples of us failing to keep the law of God, failing to fulfill our responsibilities before Him. And yet, while we often find it so natural to repent of our lusts, our lies, our jealousy – we so often forget about these sins against our God. When was the last time you repented of not loving God with your whole heart, or not loving somebody more than you love yourself?
 
Sins of omission are just that – sins! They, like any other sin, deserve the fullness of God’s wrath. This, at least for me personally, is where the depth of our sin is really seen. The more we contemplate the fact that these things that we don’t even think about are sin, the more we’ll see how natural sin is to us and how truly unnatural the obedience that God requires is.
 
To see the seriousness of these types of sins, look at Deuteronomy 8:17-19. God warns Israel that forgetting Him, omitting His mercy from their memories and His worship from their lives would be punished with death. You’ll also see from this passage that sins of omission and commission, although we draw a distinction, usually go hand in hand. You can’t really have one without the other. As you notice sins of omission in your life, such as a lack of wholehearted worship to God, you’ll typically find that you’re giving that worship to something else, which is idolatry – a sin of commission.
 
We always need to go back to the good news, because talking about our sin is such a bleak exercise and without the message of hope, it leaves us in despair. Jesus omitted nothing. His perfect obedience included not only perfectly obeying the law, but also perfectly fulfilling it – every aspect of it. He was perfect in his prayer life, perfect in his worship. He loved the Father perfectly and he loved us unconditionally; more than he loved his own self which is clearly evidenced by his willingness to go to the cross for us. He paid for all of our sins – yes, even for our sins of omission, and in him only is there forgiveness for all of them.
 
 
 
Luke Griffo is a member of leadership at Redeemer Church of South Hills in West Mifflin, PA.  Click here for more RCSH Blog posts. 
 
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