In religious conversations people often argue, “I don’t believe God would send someone to hell for one…” and then they fill in the blank with whatever sin they feel is not that “big”.
Humans tend to have a different perspective on sin than God. Man, based on his own authority, decides that some sins are not as bad as others, and that some sins are not worthy of eternal punishment. Based on their own reasoning many attempt to turn some “smaller sins” into “non-sins” and thus excuse certain behaviors.
For example, some argue, “I don’t believe God will send someone to hell just because they drank a single glass of wine.” Others might say, “Oh, its just a little white lie.” In other words, drinking wine or telling a “fib” is not really a “big” deal; in fact, maybe we shouldn’t even classify them as a “sins”. Since we don’t “feel” such behaviors are sins worthy of eternal punishment, they must not be.
Many have forgotten the account of how sin first entered the world. Eve sinned by eating some fruit and then offered the fruit to Adam who also sinned by eating it. How could eating a piece of fruit cause someone to be lost? Yet because of this one “small” sin, Jesus had to enter the world and die for all of mankind.
What many fail to realize is that when they excuse sinful behaviors they are passing judgment on God and mocking the death of Christ. For instance, when someone says, “I don’t believe God would send someone to hell for drinking a single glass of wine!”, what they are actually saying is, “I think it was unfair for God to kill Adam and Eve for eating a single piece of fruit and silly to send Jesus to die because of it!”
While some choose to focus on the “unfairness” of God in the garden (or in our day for that matter), they fail to see the blessing God had provided in placing Adam and Eve in the garden to begin with, as well as the rebelliousness that caused Adam and Eve to die. God did not force Adam or Eve to sin; it was their choice. Actions have consequences; man determines the actions, and God determines the consequences. Though you may not like the facts, we cannot change the rules, and God is not unfair in setting rule/boundaries.
When God commands his people to be sober (1 Thess. 5:7-8; literally – free of intoxicants), to violate God’s command and drink of the forbidden drink is worthy of death. When God commands his people to, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” lies of any shape or size become worthy of death.
When we start down the path of “I don’t think ____________ is worthy of eternal punishment”, we have entered the realm of Relativism. By what standard are we to walk, and who determines the set standard? Is everyone left to choose his or her own path? Drinking alcohol does not seem to be a big deal to one person and murder does not seem to be that big to another. Hand in hand both men fall into the pit of sin and death (Matthew 15:14).
When people begin playing God and determining which sins are and are not worthy of death, it is not long until they find themselves in the camp of the annihilationist where nothing is deserving of eternal death. Friends, be warned: there will be a judgment, and God the righteous judge will judge every deed, good and bad, according to what is written in the books (Ecc. 12:13-14; Rev. 20:12); the righteous shall inherit eternal life and the wicked eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46; Rev. 20:13-15).
May we head and share the words of the Psalmist:
Psalms 119:11 (NKJV)
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Psalms 119:128 (ESV)
Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.