Straining at Gnats – Swallowing Camels

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The apostasy of the day brings us teachers and preachers that pervert the word of Almighty God to justify their own sins.

There are those who are saying that all sins are the same.  That there are no big and little sins.  Though this is contrary to scripture they convince their hearers that this is true by using, or misusing, other scriptures.

A Lesson in Scripture

An example is that some of these teachers are telling you that lust and masturbation (pardon me having to say it here, but that is what they say) are the same as adultery.  While all sin brings death, all sins do not have the same punishment, and never has.  God has always differentiated sins, some are more damaging than others and thus having the greater punishment than others.  So all sins are not the same according to scripture.  Sin requires a savior to redeem but the judgment upon and the punishment for specific sins varies.  There are different degrees of sin (or sins).

The Old Testament set down Gods punishments for different sins, showing that God looks at sins differently.  The New Testament confirms this through Jesus and Paul.

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for making others little sins weightier than their bigger sins when He said that they “have omitted the weightier matters of the law – judgment”, and they did this by “strain at a gnat, and swallow[ing] a camel”. [Matthew 23:23-24]

These false teachers like to say that Jesus said that to lust after a woman is the same a committing adultery, but is that what He meant?  Does scripture actually say that?  There is nothing else in scripture that supports that assertion.  And Jesus is not going to speak against scripture – since He IS the Word.  Realize that there is no punishment in scripture, or at the Great White Throne judgment, that will judge you for thought crimes – which is what these false teachers are making this into.  We are not endorsing lust here, but we are not going to pervert scripture to justify our weightier sins either.

One of these false teachers also says that Jesus lusted.  So they are now putting sin on the Saviour from sin.  That’s as false a teaching as you can get.  Wait, they also taught that lust is not a sin when they said that – so I guess they’re okay – right?

Paul also dealt with this matter in the Corinthian church in 1Corinthians 5.  He did not pronounce judgment upon the congregation for lust or masturbation but he did deal harshly with adultery.  Showing that the New Testament still treats sins differently.

The Whole of Scripture

The whole of scripture shows us that all sins are not the same.  All sin needs a blood sacrifice to redeem from it.  Note that the blood sacrifice for adultery was the sacrifice (stoning) of the adulterer.  It was a crime that you only did once.  You didn’t offer a bull or goat to be killed to cover it – you were killed to keep it from spreading to others.

We are not writing this to condemn anyone who has committed adultery or any weightier sin, for there is redemption and forgiveness in Jesus.  Nevertheless, you must turn from it as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more” [Jn 8:11].  To continue in that sin is to bring greater judgment upon one’s self.  Remember, Jesus told one man, “lest a worse thing come upon you” [Jn 5:14], why would He say that if all sins were the same?

However, we are writing this because “there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal 1:7]  They tell you that your petty sins (gnats) are just as bad as their big sins (camels) that were once regarded as crimes [Mt 23:24].  They do this to ‘level the playing field’ and justify their own sins.  For they “shall receive the greater condemnation” [Jam 3:1]  “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”  “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” [1 Cor 5:11; 1 Cor 5:13]

The Progression of Sin

In Part 2 we will deal with what Jesus was saying when He spoke of adultery in the heart in Matthew 5:28, to which James clearly shows with his illustration of the cycle of the seeds of sin.  Showing that Jesus was giving a warning in Matthew 5:28, not a condemnation.  Rather a nip it in the bud before it manifests in the flesh and then damns you.

As Jesus shows in the following verses – by their fruits you know them [Mt 7:20]

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.  [Matthew 23:23-24]

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men:  [Matthew 23:4-5]

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