I was reading a recent survey done by LifeWay Research (commissioned by Ligonier Ministries) and I was surprised by many of the results. One of them – “Even the smallest sin deserves damnation” – 59% disagree strongly, 16% disagree somewhat, 7% not sure, 8% agree somewhat, 10% agree strongly. I would be curious to know why most people do not believe even the smallest sin deserves damnation. Just based on my own interactions with people, I would propose two reasons this poor theology is rampant. First we down play most attributes of God. Second we down play the seriousness of sin.
What is the most popular attribute of God? Love! So of course a loving God won’t send someone to hell for the smallest of sins, right? This perspective avoids all the other attributes of God and that is very bad theology. God is much more than love. I do not have time to share the full story but I heard a sermon once that talked about how the love of God and the wrath of God met at the cross. It was honestly quite beautiful but the point is that wrath is also an attribute of God. God is just as much wrath as He is love. Next we do not see sin as being that serious because we are basing them upon human standards. I would not sentence someone to death for a little white lie so why would God send them to eternal damnation? From God’s perspective (God being infinitely holy) any sin is infinitely offensive. Even the smallest sin does indeed deserve damnation but God’s grace provides redemption through Jesus for the offense. For that we Praise His Holy Name!
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. –Romans 1:18-20