There was an occasion when Israel was moving the Ark of the God. During the journey, “Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God” (2 Sam. 6:2-7). Uzzah tried to prevent the Ark from falling. Some would argue that Uzzah was trying to do a good thing, but to God Uzzah was irreverent and God killed Uzzah “because he put his hand to the ark” (1 Chron. 13:7).
Other Bible characters have also been punished for doing things that some men would consider good, but which God considered disobedience. Nadab and Abihu burned incense to God and God killed them (Lev. 10:1-2). King Saul offered a burnt sacrifice to God and God took his kingdom away (1 Sam. 13:5-14). King Uzziah burned incense to God and God made him a leper (2 Chr0n. 26:16-21). The lessons here are clear:
Our intentions are meaningless if not joined with obedience.
God will not accept just any sacrifice or form of worship.
Since God’s perception of our actions is different from men’s (compare Isa. 55:8-9) we should strive to learn God’s word for our own safety (Psalm 119:104-105).
Let’s consider the consequences of Biblical examples of sins that men might consider little. Adam and Eve suffered death for eating fruit (Gen. 3). Pharaoh and his house suffered great plagues because he took Abram’s wife Sarai even though Abram and Sarai led Pharaoh to believe that Abram and Sarai were siblings and not a married couple and Pharaoh had “treated Abram well for her sake” (Gen 12:11-10). In the wilderness, God killed some of the Israelites with fiery serpents for complaining (Num. 21:4-6). Moses was prevented from entering the land of Canaan because he struck a rock as opposed to speaking to it (Num. 20:7-12). In New Testament times, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying about what portion of their money they had given to the church (Acts 5:1-10).
In the foregoing examples, some of these sins might be considered little by men, but God’s punishment in each case was severe. Again, the lessons are clear:
- There are no “little sins.”
- God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8-9).
- Therefore, we should strive to learn God’s word for our own safety (Psa. 119:104-105).
But if you reflect for a moment you will see that there are no little sins,
because every sin is a rejection of God’s authority: every sin is a
renunciation, for the time being, of allegiance to the Divine government. Of
course there can be no little sins, for every sin involves a breach of the whole
law, in the spirit of it; every one of them involves a refusal to love God with
all the heart, and our neighbours as ourselves; every one of them involves a
setting up of our own interests above that of Jehovah. There are no little sins
then under the government of God; for everyone one of them involves rebellion
against his authority. When we come to look at human society, and judge of the
actions of men only as they effect it, we get comparative ideas of sin; but when
we come to look at sin as a violation of the law of God, then we can see that
every one who commits sin, in any degree as judged by human society, is an open
enemy of God. [Finney, C. G., "Little Sins." Monday, January 5, 1851.]
Do churches and individuals make these same mistakes today? Consider Wednesday night suppers, gymnasiums and church sponsored softball teams. We will consider some possible example next week