I want to talk to you today on this subject, the sin of omission. Now, most of us think of sin as something that we do wrong. That is, we have a list of things that are wrong and we say, “Well, we better not do them.” Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t watch X-rated movies, don’t drink liquor, don’t do this, and don’t do that. And, we have a dirty dozen. We have an idea that if we don’t do those things, then we’re all right. But, I want you to notice what God’s Word says here in James chapter 4 and verse 17. James chapter 4 and verse 17: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). The sin of failing to do what we ought to do. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Now, there are all kinds of sins, there are moral sins of the flesh, temperamental sins of the disposition, ethical sins of conduct, spiritual sins of pride, social sins of bigotry and prejudice, but the greatest sin, the sin of all sins, believe it or not, is none of these, but it is the sin of omission. Very frankly, all of these other sins come about because of the sin of omission. Because you see, the sin of omission is failing to do what you ought to do. No man can do two things at one time, and any man who is doing what he ought to do cannot do what he ought not to do. Isn’t that right? And so, all of these other sins of things that we ought not to do, happen because we’re not doing what we ought to do. And, the Bible says, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Very clearly, with emphasis, I want to tell you, it’s a greater sin to fail to do what you ought to do than to do what you ought not to do, because if you’re doing what you ought to do, you can’t be doing what you ought not to do. “To him that knoweth…” I can’t say that again, but it’s true. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
What is the sin of omission? Well, let’s back up and get the context for this passage of Scripture that we’re reading here, in James chapter four he begins in verse 13: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil”—and remember what we’ve told you, whenever you see a therefore, see what it’s there for. It refers back to what he’s already said—“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:13–17).