I recently heard some great messages on selected passages from the Book of James. One of them that stood out was James 4:17 NIV
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
In the past you may have heard preachers throwing around these two fancy, ecclesiastical phrases:
The sins of commission
The sins of ommission
It is helpful, however, to understand these two classifications of sin. The sins of commission are overt, sinful acts—idolatry, lying, stealing, murder.
The sins of omission are things we fail to do even though we know we should do them. This is what the James 4:17 passage speaks of.
So the question naturally arises: Which type of sin is greater or has more devastating consequences?
I think initially I sided with the sins of commission. Afterall, aren’t these the sins that will damn us? That may be true, but didn’t Christ come as the great substitution on our behalf so we might be forgiven for stealing, lying, or committing adultery?
Now I can see that the far greater sin falls on the omission side. Our ugly, obvious sins may very well damn us, but if we fail to do what we know we should—place our faith in Christ and surrender to Him—then we’ve missed the whole point of grace and His sanctifying work. We would be committing the greatest sin of all.
If you are like me, you may be focusing too much on your overt sins and focusing very little on areas often neglected—spiritual practices and disciplines. So here is a list of ideas I’ve compiled to help me focus on the things I ought to be doing. I admit, I’m not a perfect example, and I’m not consistent on all of these. I regret now that I didn’t do more of these things in the past. For 2015, my aim is to focus heavily on these things:
Forgetting the above practices doesn’t seem as awful as looking at pornography, cursing, drinking excessively, or robbing a store, but, oh, the devastation that results if we neglect them. Not doing what we ought to do may be shackling us to the very sins we want to escape.
Not saying that doing the above in a formulaic way will change your life. We have to do these things through faith and the power of God’s Spirit. Grace may not be based on “do’s” and “don’ts”, but make no mistake that our spiritual growth does depend on what we do and the choices we make. And oftentimes it can be under-minded by what we fail to do.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree with what I said here? Also, do you have more spiritual practices to add to the list?