What does God consider a small sin?

Pastor Jeff Struecker

Today, we’re going to talk about sin and death. We’ve been talking about sin for several weeks now. We’ve been talking about personal sin and the punishment for sin. We’ll wrap up this category, but before we wrap up, we need to talk about death because this topic is unavoidable in the Bible. Look, we’ve been talking about our personal sin. We’ve been talking about the punishment for sin. As we wrap it up, we have to go back to the beginning and look at the original instructions God gave Adam gave when he created this place called The Garden of Eden. When He made a paradise and said, Adam, have fun. I made it perfect. Go do your thing.

And then, in Genesis chapter two, God gives Adam one rule. Now I want you to picture this in your mind. Adam, everything is for you, have fun. It’s all awesome. It’s actually perfect because it’s paradise, and I’ve only got one rule for you. You follow this one rule, and it will continue to be awesome forever.

This rule comes from Genesis chapter two. God placed a tree in the middle of the garden. He called it the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, Adam, you can eat and do whatever you want. But don’t eat from this tree. And then, in Genesis chapter two, verse 17, God gives a consequence for eating from this tree. I’m asking you to commit this verse to memory. As you read this, you’ll notice that the word sin is not found in this verse. But the verse describes the consequences of the first sin. That first sin is just breaking God’s one rule. Anytime God sets a rule, you break that rule. It’s a sin. From the very first rule, God gave a promise or a punishment, a consequence for that sin. And now here it is.

Memory Verse

Now, I’ve talked about this Bible verse a lot with people who don’t go to church because they have read the first couple of Bible chapters. They read what God said in Genesis 2:17, you eat this fruit, and you will die. And then, they kept reading the Bible, and they noticed that when Adam ate the fruit, he realized he was naked and hid from Eve. Eventually, Adam ran away and hid from God when God showed up later that day. And then they’re asking, what’s up, Jeff? God said Adam was supposed to die. And I don’t see Adam falling over dead in the Bible.

Well, there are two things that I need you to understand about this verse, and it is important on the entire consequence of sin. One, when God made Adam, the Bible says, God breathed into Adam, the breath of life, and he became a living soul. A soul extends for eternity, and the soul has no end. Every human being. Every human soul, even after your body wears out and they put you in the grave. Your soul continues to go on, and it goes on for eternity in one of two places, Heaven or hell. Adam is a living soul, meaning God built Adam to live forever, literally to be eternal or to never experience death physically. Adam didn’t ever have to die until he committed this first sin. But after Adam ate from that tree, his body started to wear down, and eventually, his body would physically die. But that’s not what God said in Genesis 2:17. God said, on the day you eat it, you will die. And that’s when people look at me and say, wait for a second, Jeff. God said that Adam would die, and it doesn’t look to me like Adam died. Well, there’s a second thing about the human soul that you need to know. The human soul has an intimate relationship with God.

Your soul is how God speaks to you and how you relate to God. Obviously, God doesn’t sit down at your dinner table. You don’t see Him with your eyes, hear Him with your ears, and you can’t touch Him with your hands. But the human soul is how God communicates with us and how we communicate, or we recognize Him, and I’m telling you, Adam really did die at the soul level that day, literally that day that he ate it. Adam died because the Bible says in the next chapter that God was in the habit of coming down from Heaven and walking in the garden with Adam and hanging out and having conversations with him. But the day Adam ate this fruit when God came down from Heaven to walk in the garden and have a conversation with Adam, Adam ran away instead of running to his father. In fact, Adam dove into the bushes, and the Bible says that God had to call out to Adam.

You see, Adam’s soul was separated immediately, Adam’s soul died, and Adam’s relationship with God changed immediately that day. In fact, all of us are born with this human soul that is in bondage to sin, and it can only be set free by Jesus. We all need God to step in and rescue us from sin. We all need God to take a dead soul and make it alive for the first time. He does that when He radically changes a man’s or woman’s life.

We like to talk in my country about the punishment, fitting the crime you do something wrong, and you deserve to be punished for it. But if I murdered, the punishment for murder is much different than if I just took a candy bar from the grocery store and didn’t pay for it. Those are two totally different crimes, and they deserve two totally different punishments.

Well, the Bible makes it abundantly clear. Every sin is punished the same way, and the Book of Romans teaches that sin’s wage is death. All of us have sinned. All sin deserves death. It doesn’t matter what the sin is. That sin deserves the punishment of death, and now here’s the question that I want you to wrestle with. The question is,

A Challenge

You see, this question is not supposed to be a trick question, but I put it in quotation marks because most people tend to think, I know what I did is a sin, but it’s a really small sin. Why on earth does that deserve death? Just like murdering somebody, committing adultery, or idolatry deserves death? Why would minor sins deserve the same punishment as big sins?

I need you to answer this question out loud because how you view sin and how you view the punishment of sin will tell you a great deal about what you think about God. You see, according to God, there are no such things as small sins because every sin is a human creature, deliberately telling the creator, “I don’t care what you say, I’m going to do whatever I wanna do, and I’m going to do this because I want to do it.