It wasn’t until after I left the LDS church that I received forgiveness of all my sins. As Alma testified, it is an amazing feeling of exquisite and exceeding joy and my soul was pained no more. My guilt was gone and I felt at peace for the first time in my life. For awhile I felt pretty good about myself because I wasn’t committing any serious sins. Or at least I thought. Once I started digging into the Bible I discovered that God doesn’t grade sins. As a Mormon I had been taught that not all sins are equal in nature, and some sins carry a greater penalty than others. Only major sins make you unworthy and sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness. But I discovered God’s Word proved this LDS teaching false:
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto 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.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Because the LDS Church grades sins, some Mormons are considered worthy while others aren’t. Only those who commit sins which the Church considers “serious” are declared unworthy and “wayward“. We see this in this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson:
“Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Alma serves as a pattern. The horror for sin that engulfed him should be felt by every wayward member of the kingdom; then repentance would be forthcoming, as it was with our Nephite friend” (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 20: My Soul Is Pained No More p. 92)
The truth is that everyone is wayward! Every person sins and so everyone is equally unworthy and wayward. The horror for sin should be felt by every member every time you sin. Even though we humans like to “grade” sins and think that some aren’t as important as others, God doesn’t do this. No matter how small a sin appears to us, when we sin we are still rebelling against our Majestic God. The greatness of our guilt can be measured by only one yardstick and that is the infinite Majesty of our God whom we have sinned against.
Let me give an illustration using a story about my “little” brother. One day, when we were in High School, this kid said something very rude to me. My brother Ralph heard about it during lunch hour and proceeded to teach him a lesson. Ralph hit the kid a few times and then grabbed his arm and brought him to me. When I heard a loud commotion, I looked and saw a huge crowd all following my brother as he was dragging the kid behind him. Then Ralph threw him down in front of me and forced him to apologize to me. After doing so, the kid ran away crying. Then a teacher took Ralph to the Principal’s office. He was suspended from school for three days, but he says he has always felt like he did the right thing. I certainly never had to worry about being bothered by that kid again (or anyone else for that matter).
But, what if a policeman had said something rude to me and Ralph had done the same thing to the policeman? The consequences would have been much worse than merely being suspended from school. And, if we took that one step further, what if the President of the United States had insulted me and Ralph took a swing at the President? His transgression would have been much more serious.
In a similar way, this is why any sin is serious—because of whom we have sinned against. Every time we sin we break the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Every sin justifies the eternal death sentence. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This is why James testified: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
It’s not just the blatant sinner who has a big problem. Jesus testified that at the Final Judgment people who simply did not help those who were “hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto” them would be sent “away into everlasting punishment“:
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41-46)
The Bible clearly shows the same consequence for all sin—an eternity with Satan and his demons! While the Proverbs passages shows there are specific sins that God hates; each and every sin has the same consequence: eternal separation from Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost.Think of this balloon as your hope for eternal life. Think of this pin as one “minor” sin. Prick the balloon (commit the sin) just once and your dream is destroyed.
Except for Jesus, no one has or will live a life good enough to qualify for God’s pardon. Logic tells us we have no hope. But again God’s revealed truth defies logic: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Because Jesus lived perfectly for us, fulfilling every demand of Justice; Heavenly Father can offer us a full pardon. Only through unbelief do we reject His undeserved and completely free gift.
Unbelievers are lost because they think their sins aren’t so bad. They choose to wear their own robe of righteousness, which is like filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isaiah 63:6). Those with faith in Jesus know how sinful they are. They wear Christs’ protective garment — His robe of righteousness and will spend eternity in the loving arms of their majestic God!
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)