Todd Friel has a great illustration to flesh out the severity of sin. He says that the severity of sin is dependent upon the one against whom the sin is committed, and the consequence for the sin follows likewise. In other words, when one offends someone with very little authority, the consequences are less severe. But when one offends someone of a higher authority, the punishment is greater. His illustration follows thusly:
If I lie to my child, what can he do to me? Nothing. He's a child! If I lie to my wife, what will happen? I might sleep on the couch. If I lie to her again, she might leave me. If I lie to my boss, I could get fired. If I lie to the government, I could go to jail.
In each circumstance, the offense is the same, but the severity of the sin (the level of offense taken) changes based upon whom the sin was committed against.
The same is true with God. We often times will justify "small" sins by saying they are no big deal. When we do this, we put God int he place of our "child." It's not a big deal, and he won't care. And why would he get angry about such a small thing? But what we're missing is who and what God really is: the Creator of the universe and absolute Moral Lawgiver. to him, all sin is detestable and deplorable, no matter what size (or how insignificant we might think it is).
I "like" Desiring God on my Facebook page, and they quite frequently post quotes from several reformed theologians and pastors throughout history. Today's quote from Jonathan Edwards was quite relevant, and I though, profound: “Any sin is more or less heinous depending upon the honor and majesty of the one whom we had offended. Since God is of infinite honor, infinite majesty, and infinite holiness, the slightest sin is of infinite consequence. The slightest sin is nothing less than cosmic treason when we realize against whom we have sinned.”
"Cosmic treason." Wow. When see God for who he is, as Edwards says, "of infinite honor, infinite majesty, and infinite holiness," sin is a big deal. And it shows us all the more how glorious the gospel is. God forgave me of cosmic treason.