All sin is sinful and all of us are sinners. Those truths are easily forgotten today, as many “righteous” people seem to limit “sin” to sexual wickedness, of which they are quite sure that God considers homosexual misbehavior to be the very worst sort. Seeking some biblical perspective, I looked up nine major “sin lists” found in the New Testament (Matt. 15:18-19; Rom. 1:28-31; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:25-31; Col. 3:5-9; 1 Tim. 1:8-10; 2 Tim. 3:1-5 and Titus 3:3). Taken together, these nine passages identify at least 37 specific sins, which encompass wrong attitudes (14), improper speech (4) and forbidden conduct (19).
Outward sins begin in the heart, said Jesus, and sinful attitudes include envy, covetousness, jealousy, malice, enmity, bitterness, anger, faithlessness, heartlessness and ruthlessness. Most frequently named in these nine lists (three times each) are envy, anger, slander, theft and the general term “sexual immorality.” Crusading against sexual immorality is popular among church folks, but where is the moral outrage over the first three sins in that set?
More than 80% of the 37 specific sins named are unrelated to sex. The seven sins that are sexual in character are adultery, sexual immorality, orgies, impurity, sensuality and homosexual conduct. Of these, the most often-named is “sexual immorality,” which is also the most general by definition. Tying for second place in biblical attention are adultery (which ensnares 40-60% of married Americans at some time) and homosexual conduct (which probably involves 2-5% of the population, though pro-gay advocates claim 10%). Which of those two sins do you suppose poses the greater threat to marriage? Of all sinners, which one should concern us most? Surely it is that sinner whom we face each morning in the mirror (Luke 18:9-14).