“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
by Jonathan Benson
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Are some sins worse than others? Are all sins equal? Which sin is the worst? Do we judge certain sins more harshly than other sins depending on our personal experiences or opinions?
To begin, we will look at some lists of sins found in God’s word. Please think about what you may believe to be the worst sin. Second, are some personal reflections about how God
called me from a worldly, gross, and sinful condition. Third, we will share our conclusion as to which sin the Scriptures show is the worst sin.
(1) Sins Mentioned in the Scriptures Proverbs 6:16-19. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
Romans 1:29,30. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents” (NASB).
1 Corinthians 6:9-10. “The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? … neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves,
nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (NASB).
Galatians 5:19-21. “The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife,
jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing … those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (NASB).
Do any of those sins stand out to you to be the worst sin?
Strong’s Concordance gives us some definitions for sin. In the Old Testament, word #2398 means “to miss, to sin.” In the New Testament, word #264 means “to miss the mark.” Can we
miss the mark more with some sins than others? We will answer that at the end.
(2) My Personal Story
Part I — Innocence. Not everyone experiences the struggles I did in finding God and the Truth. Some lead an exemplary life
and simply find the Truth as a culmination of their search for meaning in life. However, this was not my case, and perhaps my example can benefit those who, like me, have had significant
struggles with sin.
I believe God was guiding and protecting my life at a very early age. As a young boy raised to be good and go to Sunday School in the Methodist Church, I learned God is love and His son was Jesus. I never believed in the trinity or hellfire. Innocence can see through lies. I had a personal prayer life with God. The greatest feeling in my life was helping people. At church, my Dad was the choir director and I was a choir boy. When I was asked to sing a solo once I prayed to God and said, “This is for You, not for them.” Because I was called Jon as a boy, I would often open my Bible to the books of John.
I realized with awe at a very young age in elementary school that there was something more to life, something bigger. I saw many of what I believed were overrulings from God happening in my life. One thing that really upset me about church was
in their bulletin. They would list the largest financial contributors to the church. I thought that should be a private thing between
them and God. My Dad’s name was on the list and I questioned him as to why they listed the names. That is when I learned that he was paid to direct the choir, and donating was a way for
him to give back to the church. It hurt my heart to learn that he was getting paid. But I was glad he was giving back.
God knows and protects those who later in their lives would heed the call and follow in Jesus= footsteps. God knows the beginning from the end. “Remember also your Creator in the
days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’ ” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Do you remember the conversation God had with Satan about Job? (Job 1:8-12). What if God had a conversation about me? In my imagination, it may have gone something like this: “Have you noticed my dear one, Jonathan? His innocence, he loves to help people and has a heart for me?” And Satan says, “Yeah, cute kid!” I noticed your protection over him, but I am curious. He is just a kid; how do you know he will be loyal to you his whole life?” God responds, “He is mine, but feel free to try to turn him. It will not work, he will be true.” Satan replies, “We will see about that!”
Where were you when you were being drawn by God and eventually called? What were some of your personal battles over certain sins? Are they still your personal battles or have you
overcome them? For clarification — as a young boy I could see the Lord=s hand and protection in my life. I do not believe I was being called at that point. But evidently, I was later.
1 Corinthians 1:26-28 tells us about our calling. “Ye see your
calling, brethren … not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, And base things [that would be me] of the
world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen.”
Why would God call such damaged and weak ones as sons? That is answered in verse 29: “So that no man may boast before God” (NASB). We are all unworthy. “All have sinned and come
short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God can read the heart and can see past our sinful state to know we have value and potential for His son in the kingdom. Have you ever thought about your battle over your sins and the value that they can bring to the kingdom in helping the world of mankind?
Part II — Ignorance. My three sisters and I were raised to be competitive, be the best, and win at everything. It began with sports, music, and ended in areas that were not good. For instance, my introduction to alcohol: how much and how fast. How Sad! One evening at a high school basketball game, two boys asked, “Do you party?” I thought, “Sure, I’ll drink.”
But that is not what they meant, I found out quickly in their car. I thought, “I will just pretend and they will not notice.” But they did. Due to peer pressure, that started a nine-year downfall, I squeaked by in high school and summer school just to pass. After that, college. My associate’s degree was a waste. I didn’t care — life was a party. However — even though I was selfish and degenerate — I still saw God’s overrulings in my life. But I will not go into that now.
I began a music career with a friend from high school. We played at nightclubs. I lived in a Rock and Roll fantasy. Drugs went from mild to stronger, as it often does. I met a girl.
We married for all the wrong reasons. My few friends tried to talk me out of marrying her, but I did not listen. After six months, she left me for a drug dealer.
How many people in the world have addictions? It could be drugs, alcohol, sex, food, etc. Addiction is an epidemic that needs to be cured in the kingdom with the help of the
“more than overcomers” that fought their own personal demons.
In my mind I see Satan capitalizing on my ignorance. Satan: “So God, how do you like Jonathan now? Where was that innocent boy you showed me? I have him and there is no turning him around. This was way too easy.” God replies: “I know deep down inside he will find his way back.” Satan: “I don=t think so. I
have him just where I want him, he’s like putty in my hands.”
Where were you when you were drawn by God? What were some of your personal battles and experiences with sin? Are they still a battle or have you overcome them? It is important to
remind ourselves of our personal battlefield. Some did better. But we can benefit by learning from the struggles of others so we can sympathize with the world in the kingdom.
I love the Manna comment from April 28th. “We have need of patience, and that can only be gained by trials. We have need of faith, and that can only be developed by necessities. We
have need of experience for our future work, which can be gained only by such experiences which permit us to be touched with a feeling of the infirmities and difficulties and trials of
those about us, to whom we shall be ministers and representatives when we reach the throne. For us, then, the lesson of present experiences is to resist evil, and not with evil but with good” (Taken from R3238).
The Apostle Peter said, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1Peter 1:14-16, NASB).
Part Three — Hitting Bottom. Feelings of anger, revenge, suicide, and hate swirled in my mind. I was broken. I felt worthless, empty, and alone. I did some major soul searching
and realized I needed God. For 3 months, I prayed intensely with tears asking the Lord for direction.
Let us return to my imaginary conversation with God and Satan. Satan: “Oh my, he is worthless and of no use to anyone, especially to you. I think I’m done here.” God replies: “He
will sing to me again. Just wait! I will never forsake or leave him. When he calls, I will answer.” Where were you when you were drawn by God and eventually called? Maybe you have learned through your experiences, or perhaps from the experiences of others.
Part IV — Needing Direction. Over 33 years ago, the Lord answered my plea for direction. He arranged and overruled that I met with one of my sister’s friends. Unbeknownst to me, she was a consecrated Bible Student and knew of my situation. When we got together, the first thing she asked me was, “What do you think about the word “hell” in the Bible?” My answer was, “Well if God is love, He would not hurt anyone.”
Her next question was “Why do you think God permits evil?” I had no clue. I received the most amazing 5-minute explanation. I was so excited that we went back right away to her mom’s house and studied. Later, this led to me attending a young people’s first volume study, which they started over from the beginning just for me. I went home and read the book in
one night. This was what I was waiting for my entire life. Soon after, I started attending the Wilmington, Delaware Ecclesia.
God knew my experience of a dark, lowly life would help me to later seek His face, want to change, and find a purpose, from an empty shell, and use what I learned in order to bless others now and in the kingdom.
Back again to my imaginary conversation with God and Satan. Satan: “I don’t understand, I had him right where I wanted him — miserable. How?” God replies, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. He is now fully mine! My power and influence are within him.
But now through his experiences and weaknesses, thanks to you, Satan, he is more valuable to me than ever. All things work together for good!”
We all have weaknesses. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15-20, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (NIV).
If the Apostle Paul had such battles from within, it gives us the courage to keep battling also.
How do the brethren accept us when we are a big mess like I was? How do weak ones learn right from wrong? Through the loving patience, and the examples, of those around them. For
me, an early example was shortly after coming into the Truth, I moved to Connecticut and lived in the home of Br. Richard and Sr. Anna May Suraci for 6 months. I witnessed what a consecrated home and marriage were all about. It was just what I needed. How do these weak ones learn right from wrong? Is it instantaneous? No, it takes time. How much time does it take? It depends on the individual.
The brethren do not expect perfection of others. Is this a restitution picture of the world in advance of the kingdom? I think so. Thank you, brethren, for your patience, forbearance, and love for babes in Christ!
For those who have struggled with sin in their lives, it may not be easy to keep down natural tendencies after they are called. The Apostle Paul showed us that. Do they suddenly disappear when they become spirit-begotten? No, they do not. However, as one matures in Christ they can be overcome by God’s grace.
Will our heavenly Father give us wake-up calls if we slip back to some of our old ways? Yes, because He loves us. No matter how humbling or shameful it is. It will be what we need to reset and draw even closer to our heavenly Father for forgiveness and strength. Those wake-up calls can be turning points for greater
faithfulness, and to be sympathetic towards others.
(3) Which Sin is the Worst?
Let us return to this early question. I believe the answer is in Hebrews 12:1,4. “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and
the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance … You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (NASB).
All sin is wrong, but which sin is the worst? The sin that so easily besets us, besets me, and besets you! The sin that is in each of us is the worst sin, not the sin in others. If we are to be faithful, we must weed out the sin within us. If our focus is not in the right place, we will lose. Being an overcomer means hating the sin within us and loving righteousness. God said of Jesus, “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God … has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions” (Hebrews 1:9 NASB).1
Make a list of your sins or weaknesses in private and ask the Lord to reveal what you need to work on most. Make a plan and keep battling. Put barriers and hedges around yourself to avoid temptations. We all desire to hear one day, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” To God be the glory!
Editor: The article suggests that the worst sin is the sin in us. That is a good point against judging others. But there is an answer that may be added. God views sin against light worse than sin done in ignorance.