When we think about the subject of sin we generally only consider the things we do that are displeasing to the Lord, that is, the sins we commit, or theologically called ‘sins of commission’. We are inclined not to include those things we know we should do but do not. These are called ‘sins of omission’. Both types of sin, for there are really only two, are the product of self-will and as a result have serious consequences in our lives. In this study we will take a look at the latter type of sin.
The well known proverb that states, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions” expresses the full consequences of sins of omission. How many times have we promised to live godly, or obey the Lord in a certain matter, only to go back on our word? Maybe we have heard the Holy Spirit remind us that certain vital areas of our lives are not in accordance with God’s will or word, but we have chosen to ignore Him. Maybe we have read some Bible passage that either convicted us or prompted us to service only to dismiss it. When we fail to obey, move forward at God’s command or accomplish something He requires, we are committing sins of omission.
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). James clearly reveals the seriousness of the sins of omission. This is not some new teaching invented by the apostle, but instead is a brief and succinct form of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:41-46, “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: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Even though the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were zealous about not committing the obvious sins, they were blind to the fact that they were guilty of the sin of omission. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).
What is left undone is punished in exactly the same way as for what we do. We seem to think that the Lord turns a blind eye to our failure to serve and obey Him, but He does not. “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes” (Luke 12:47). The one who neglects to do what God requires is a fool and is headed towards destruction. “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:26-27).
In light of this, the following Scriptures serve to show us what every true saint of God ought to be doing in their lives. To leave any of them undone goes to prove that sin is reigning in our hearts and that as a consequence, judgement must come.
 Are we putting God first in our lives? “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).
 Are we reading and studying the Bible? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
 Are we living holy unto the Lord? “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
 Are we fellowshipping with other believers? “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
 Are we praying? “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
 Do we love the people of God? “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14).
 Do we treat others as we expect them to treat us? “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).
 Are we willing to forgive all wrongs? “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).
 Are we reaching out to the lost with the message of salvation? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
No doubt you can find areas to extend this list, but in doing so, are you not confirming the fact that sins of omission are evident in our lives? Nevertheless, these nine passages of Scripture cover the major areas where we tend to ignore the Lord’s will.
Our relationship with God is not only one of being aware of what evil we do, but also being aware of the good we do not do. The good things we are called to do are not to be done only when it is convenient for us. Just as we are called to be constantly aware of temptations and sin in our lives, we are also called to pursue righteousness and godliness. Whether it be sin of commission or sin of omission, either way we are not meeting the standard God has set for us and have transgressed His law. Sins of omission involve our refusal to walk in the light that God has personally given us, as individuals. If God has given us light upon something good that we should do, and we do not do it, we have told God, “No, I will not obey you.” This sin is just as wicked as the other, and causes us to miss out on many God’s blessings and opportunities to be a blessing to others. This sin cannot be put down to absentmindedness, instead we should own up, repent and determine to walk in the Spirit. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).