This morning, I was asked the following question – “Does God view all sins the same way?” The person then said the reason for the question is that pastors, in her experience, answer this question differently.
My response to her?
“You’re asking the wrong question.” This is a question that actually demonstrates what I call an “Old Covenant” mentality. Throughout the law, which is the heart of that covenant, there were different penalties for different transgressions, penalties that went all the way up to and including a death sentence. Blessings and cursings depending on one’s actions is part and parcel of the Old Covenant. God tells the Israelites that if they keep the covenant, He tells them what He will do. If they do not keep it, He tells them what He will do.
Under the Old Covenant construct, a person’s sin required a response on God’s part. It’s called judgment and punishment.
I then gave her a different question: “Does God view sin at all?”
Now, I will admit, many who just read my response question will have an immediate critical reaction to the question, but hang with me here.
Paul says something very enlightening about how God views and approaches the world during this time. In Colossians 1:20, Paul writes that God “…through [Christ] to reconcile all things unto Himself, having made peace through His cross, through Him, whether the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.”
This is very key. The grammar of the words translated as “to reconcile” and “having made peace” points to a specific point in time. The phrase, “through His cross,” that being the cross of Christ, points to what that specific point in time is. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, reconciliation is now open for people, reconciliation which is only possible because of how God now views His relationship with the world – at peace. If He was not at peace with the world but was still viewing the world from a viewpoint of sin, reconciliation would not be possible.
This is further supported by Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:9 where Peter says “God is long-suffering, not desiring any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
If God still viewed sin as He did under the Old Covenant, God would only be demonstrating patience up to a point before pronouncing judgment and sending the appropriate punishment. One only has to look at the history of Israel to see how that all played out.
So, from God’s perspective, He is at peace with all of creation because of Christ and the cross. God now views all people from the viewpoint of righteousness and what might be lacking in a person’s experience of that righteousness. That may be from a total lack of righteousness, as it would be when He sees someone who has not become an adopted son or daughter of His, all the way to seeing what is still lacking in a believer’s experience of the righteousness God has made him/her to be through Christ.
Either way, God now views each person and this world through the lens of Christ.
This is a very vital and crucial part of the New Covenant. Without it, the New Covenant falls apart.
But so many followers of Christ, pastors, teachers, leaders, and laypeople, by asking the wrong question, reveal that they still have part of the Old Covenant construct as an integral part of the New Covenant. That just does not work.
And until that type of perspective and thinking changes, the Gospel that is taught in many circles will not be the pure gospel, but a diluted or a defiled one.
So, let’s ask the right question.