THE OTHER SINS
This does not mean that the other sins are unimportant. All sins carry punishment with them. In the Old Testament, those who did not love God committed many other sins spontaneously. In the New Testament, those who do not believe in the Lord also commit many sins spontaneously. The failure to love God and the refusal to believe in the Lord are the two main sins. From these many other sins are produced, such as unrighteous acts, evil deeds, expressions of greed, wickedness, jealousy, murder, strife, deceit, displays of hatred, slander, backbiting, blasphemy, insolence, pride, arrogance, false accusations, disobedience to parents, unfaithfulness, a lack of natural affection and mercy, self-love, the love of money, ingratitude, unholiness, ferociousness, the despising of good, betraying others, recklessness, loving pleasure rather than God, giving the appearance of godliness without having its reality, and so on. But none of these are the most serious sin that man has ever committed, even though they are sins before God. Unfortunately, man does not realize that these sins are produced through one main sin. Both the sinners in the world and the believers in the church try to deal only with these sins. It seems as if the removal of all these sins would rid us of the problem of sin altogether. But man has not realized that these sins occupy only a secondary place in the Bible.
Though impossible, what if someone had received enough grace to deal with all the other sins? If he had been a person in the Old Testament age, he would have realized that there was still the sin of not loving God. Although he would no longer have the other sins, his conscience would still bother him. If he were a person in the New Testament age, he would realize that there is still the sin of not believing in the Lord. Although he would no longer be condemned by the other sins, he would not feel satisfied in the deepest part of his heart, because the Spirit of God would convict him of his sin of unbelief.
Man perishes because of his unbelief. Unbelief causes the punishment for all the other sins to fall upon an unbelieving one. The immediate reason for man’s perdition is his many sins. The ultimate reason is man’s sin of unbelief. Because of this, we have to be concerned with the sin of unbelief. Of course, we cannot overlook the other sins either.
THE RESULT OF SIN AND SINS
Once a man succumbs to the power of sin, he commits a variety of sins. Once a man commits these many sins, he brings upon himself the guilt or condemnation for sins, the verdict or judgment for sins. As soon as we have sinned, there is the problem of guiltiness. Being guilty is not used merely to imply one’s act of transgression. It is like a verdict in court that pronounces one either guilty or not guilty. It is a description of whether or not one is legally sinful. According to the Bible, it is not our sin that we are responsible for, but our sins. Our sin does not bring in the problem of guiltiness before God. Rather, the sins we have committed bring in this problem. The Bible says that if we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). Yet at the same time, it does not require us to bear the guilt for our sin. If we confess our sins, God will forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9). This shows us that we do have to bear the responsibility for our sins.
Because there are the sins, there is guilt. Once a person is guilty, there is the problem of punishment. Because there is punishment, there is unrest in the conscience and the consciousness of being apart from God. Sins make us condemned persons before God. They leave us waiting for God’s wrath to appear. Only after one is forgiven is his conscience at peace; only then will he have the boldness to come to God. But even if the many sins are forgiven, as long as the problem of sin remains, the many sins will continue to come, and the problem of guilt will recur. This is why after God has forgiven our sins, He must go on to free us from sin.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)