What is the difference between the sins of commission and omission?

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Sins of commission

A sin of commission is defined as something we do that we’re not supposed to do. Sins of commission are overt, sinful acts. These sins constitute a violation of God’s moral law in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). For example, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  “You shall not murder.  You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:3, 7, 13-15). Jesus said, “if you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Sins of omission

Conversely, a sin of omission is defined as something we don’t do that we’re supposed to do. It is rather easy to commit a sin of omission without others discovering it. Some people feel that they’re basically righteous simply because they abstain from obviously unrighteous acts such as murder, theft, lying and using vulgar language. But righteousness is equally demonstrated through active obedience to commandments that demand action.

The most fundamental sins of omission are the failure to forsake sins, confess faith in Christ, and join God’s church in baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Also, the neglect to worship the Lord in His church (Hebrews 10:23-25), to speak the truth (Ephesians 4:15), to reverence Him (Hebrews 12:28-29), and to preach the gospel (1 Peter 3:15-16), are sins of omission (Romans 12:1-2).

The Bible teaches that we are to endeavor to do “good works.” For example, “whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18). The Lord purposed for His children to be his arms and legs to spread bless others (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14).

Jesus taught that Christians are the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket… Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Sins of omission lead to sins of commission

One example to that is found in the life of King David. When he remained in Jerusalem instead of being with his general at war, he neglected his duty (or omission). Because of this, he exposed himself to the lust temptation for a married woman (Bathsheba) which led to adultery and murder which were sins of commission (2 Samuel 11).

Also, when the rich young ruler asked Christ what he was lacking, Jesus responded by asking him to sell all of his possessions and follow Him. The man declined for he didn’t wish to give up his riches for the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:20). Consequently, he lost his eternal life. By contrast, the apostle Matthew gave up his riches and followed Christ.  For this, he gained eternal life (Matthew 9:9-13).

Which is more wicked, the sins of commission or the sins of omission?

While both sins are different, they are both evil. For the Scriptures teach that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Paul is here referring specifically to eternal death, the “second death” (Revelation 20:6, 14, 15). For “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). Therefore, let us come to the Lord, confess our sins, and repent of them in order to receive His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 1:6).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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