3. Sins of omission are counted as seriously as sins of commission.
Time and again Biblical history demonstrates that sins of silence and omission are just as fatal as sins of public, physical commission.
- Sarah omitted to say that Abraham was her husband; and was reproved (Gen. 20:16).
- Onan omitted to raise up seed to his brother, and was slain (Gen. 38:10).
- To omit to hate evil is the same as to commit it (Ps. 36:4).
- Because David omitted to enforce the Law's requirements concerning the transport of the tabernacle, a man died. His commission of good didn't outweigh his omission here (1 Chron. 15:13).
- The sin of omitting obedience was as bad as committing witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). Even though Saul partially obeyed God's commandments (1 Sam. 15:20), his omissions of some of them led to God declaring that Saul had in fact turned back from following His commandments (1 Sam. 15:11).
- The sin of omitting to care for ones' parents, albeit on the basis of following Jewish tradition and being generous to the temple, was understood by the Lord as active transgression of God's commandment (Mt. 15:3). The commandment [singular] the Lord had in mind was surely to honour father and mother. He saw that this meant that we ought to therefore care for our parents in their old age; and omitting to make that fairly obvious connection and interpretation was seen by Him as active transgression.
- We have a debt to preach to the world; we are their debtors, and yet this isn't how we often see it (Rom. 1:14). Time and again we commit sins of omission here.
- Samuel would have sinned against Yahweh if he ceased to pray for Israel in their weakness (1 Sam. 12:23). We so easily give up in prayer for the weak.
- Adam's sin of commission (i.e. eating the fruit) may well have been a result of his sins of omitting to go forth out of the centre of the garden and multiply. By one man's inattention (Rom. 5:19 Gk.) sin came into the world. This needs some meditation (see Study 6.10.3).
- The Lord taught that to wangle one's way out of caring for their parents by delegating it to the synagogue was effectively cursing them, and those guilty must " die the death" (Mk. 7:10,11). To him who knows to do good but does it not, this omission is counted as sin (James 4:17- written in the context of brethren omitting to help each other). Likewise He said that if Had omitted to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, this would have been 'doing evil' and even 'killing' (Mk. 3:4). That's how seriously He took omitting to do good when it's in our power to do it.
- Because the priests omitted to care for Israel, they were counted as the wolves- their sin of omission was counted as one of commission (Ez. 34:9,10).
- The sin of keeping silence in the face of others' oppression is perhaps the most common sin of omission. So many who have struggled against abusive regimes have come to this conclusion- that the real abusers were all the good people who remained silent and thus empowered abusive regimes. "Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness?" (Ps. 58:1 RV). Speaking and acting righteously whilst keeping silent about others' abuse is not righteousness.
- Ps. 44:20 balances the sin of omission against the sin of commission: “If we have forgotten the name of our God [omission], or stretched out our hands to a strange god” [commission]. It makes a good exercise to watch for how many times the Proverbs treat sins of omission as if they are sins of active commission. "He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster" (Prov. 18:9)- 'mere' laziness, as we may see it, an omission of working- is the same as the commission of a purposefully destructive person. And to laze away our hours is perhaps a temptation in this generation as never before. He who doesn't help those terminally ill, saying within himself "Behold, we know it not"- will be judged by God "according to his works" (Prov. 24:11,12). The internal turning of a blind eye in our attitude is in fact an active 'work' which will be judged at the last day. And again, our generation has many opportunities to walk on by and claim we never knew. When we did. And there's no generation like ours for rewarding that attitude, when it's actually one that could lead to our eternal condemnation. For we are all terminally ill and need God's urgent, saving attention.
- To not lend to one's poor brother will be counted to us as sin (Dt. 15:9).
- If we omit to 'visit' the fatherless (in the Hebrew sense of coming close to, getting involved with, not just 'popping in to see')- then our religion is defiled and impure (James 1:27).
- " As troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way" (Hos. 6:9) is the basis for the Lord's parable of the injured man on the Jericho road. But He turns it round- He makes a difference between the robbers and the priest. And yet according to this Hosea passage, there is no difference between the robbers and the priest who passes by. Surely the point of the allusion to Hosea 6:9 was that the priest who omitted to help was as bad as the robbers who committed the attack. This is how serious are sins of omission.