Sins of commission and omission


I’m not sure where to put this, so it’s going under “General Theology”…

I’ve heard it said a number of times how we should repent not only for our “sins of commission” but also for “sins of omission.” The first time I heard it, I thought it was an interesting idea. But the more I’ve thought about it, it just doesn’t sit right with me. I think I can put it down to 2 things:

  1. It leads people to constantly be in a state of, “I’m not doing enough!” and they beat themselves up over it, continually believing that they are “not good enough” or, even worse, that God hates them for missing opportunities. To me, this is not humility, it’s a denial of who we are in Christ.

  2. What some people call “sins of omission” are actually “sins of commission.” Take the example of choosing not to evangelise when the opportunity arises: if we see the opportunity, then it is a deliberate act of not taking it. (Some people say that when we recognise the opportunity, it is God nudging us to evangelise… in which case not taking it is an act of disobedience.) However, if the opportunity passes and a while later we realise it… I don’t think that counts. Perhaps God shields us from these things sometimes because the situation is not right. So I would argue that a deliberate missed opportunity is actually a “sin of commission” (because it’s disobedience)… and for that we need to repent.

What do you think?

Why do some believe UR?

I think that’s a fair analysis. I always thought of the idea of sins of omission along the lines of James 4:17 “the one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin”. But I guess you’re classing that as a sin of commission? I don’t know if the terms are all that important, but I think you’re correct that a wrong idea of “sins of omission” might lead a person into an unhealthy paranoia about what they’re not doing.



We do have the example in Matthew 25 in the Parable of the Talents:

*Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.*

This poor guy did NOTHING with what he was charged with.