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The Sinfulness of Sin: Commission

These are when we do that which God tells us not to do; when we break the law that He has put on our hearts and has spelled out for us in His Word.
This is Part 3 in our series “The Sinfulness of Sin.” Click below to view the others:
Throughout this series, The Sinfulness of Sin, we’ve been attempting to discover how deeply sin permeates each and every one of us. While this burden becomes difficult for us to bear, it is ultimately beneficial and necessary in order for us to understand and more fully appreciate what has been done for us by God in Christ. In this essay, we will be looking more specifically at how we sin against God.

Doing What We Ought Not Do

Scripture categorizes for us two broad “types” of sin: these are sins of commission and sins of omission. Typically, when we think of sin, what comes to our minds are sins of commission. We could even call these obvious sins. These are when we do that which God tells us not to do; when we break the law that He has put on our hearts and has spelled out for us in His Word. This variety of sin is often willful, intentional, and carried out with knowledge and understanding of the fact that it is wrong.
If we read the Bible, we don’t have to go very far to find example after example of what sins of commission look like. A good passage to look at is Galatians 5:19-21. Paul lists, among others, sins such as sexual immorality, fits of anger, drunkenness, jealousy, and things like these as the “works of the flesh.” And he tells us that these sins are “evident,”meaning that they’re not hard to see. So we’re told that sins of commission are often difficult to hide, at least for very long. It doesn’t take long for us to notice these sins in others, or for people to find them in us.
Again, they are things that we do that are in direct violation of God’s law; when we do what He says not to do. Think of such biblical examples, like Israel’s building of the golden calf, David’s sinful behavior regarding Bathsheba, Peter’s denying of Jesus, or Paul’s persecution of the church before he was saved. All of these, and countless others, are sins of commission; obviously sinful and directly opposed to God’s law.

Clearly Seen

With outward sins such as these, they often attract much of our attention. As a result of this, they are easier, in a sense, for us to confess and repent of. Because we can, for the most part, see them very clearly, they’re the first sins that come to our mind when we’re confessing before God and asking for forgiveness. This is what the psalmist is praying for: “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression” (Ps. 19:13). We notice our sins of commission, we feel the guilt of them, and we are driven to repentance for them.
We also tend to think of these sins when we’re considering Christ’s death and suffering. These are the sins that we credit to Jesus; that he was counted as a liar, a murderer, an adulterer, or whatever other sins of commission we commit. And this is true, and is important for us to understand and have a firm grasp on. But what we need to be careful about as Christians is that we don’t stop there.
We’ll acknowledge our obvious sins, confess, repent, and strive to put those to death, as we should, but we need to understand that our sinfulness goes deeper than that. We’ll look more in depth at this next time when we talk about sins of omission, but even when talking about sins of commission, there are several ways in which we allow them to slip from our attention.

Perfection Demanded

The truth is, that every single one of our sinful thoughts, our careless words, all go against God’s law and make us liable for punishment. God demands from all people perfect obedience in thought, word, and deed (Mt. 5:48). Anything that crosses our mind that is contrary to God’s law is a sin of commission. This is what Jesus was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, when he showed all of us how much of the law we break.
Plenty of people can say truthfully that they never had an affair, but who can say that they’ve never looked after somebody with lust (Mt. 5:27-28)? Or observe the condemnation that falls on each of us when we’re taught that murder is not only the taking of another life, but even uncontrolled anger falls under this heading. What does verse 14 of Psalm 19 say? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.”
Sins of commission go beyond our outward behavior, yet this rebellion in our minds often goes unnoticed. This can bring about the deadly result of thinking that we’re better than we are. We start to overcome the more obvious external sins, but we neglect to guard our thoughts and words. It’s important to remember that these sins still require repentance and demand justice. In Hebrews 9:7, we’re told that in the Old Testament, the high priest had to make sacrifices even for the unintentional sins of the people. They require atonement, and Christ made the atonement on our behalf. He died even for the accidental sins that we don’t even notice or think about. But they are paid for by Christ and forgiven in him.
This series isn’t meant to drive us to despair by revealing our sins, but rather we should be motivated to greater joy in gaining a little more understanding of how much Jesus paid for our disobedience.
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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