“God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man” (Joseph Smith, quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, p. 325). One of Mormonism’s basic tenets is that God and human beings are basically the same. God is just more advanced in his progression. He was once a man. He still has a physical body. Because of that, he is limited to being in one place. He has a spouse (or spouses). We are his literal spirit children. We too can become gods. We differ from him – not in kind – but in degree.
In striking contrast the Bible describes God as differing from us, not in degree, but in kind. He is an entirely different Being from us. He never was a man. From all eternity he existed as the one and only God and that is how he will exist throughout eternity. He is so different from us that we can’t even fathom his triune nature: that he is one God consisting of three distinct persons. He is in a class solely by himself. He and he alone is God. The God of Mormonism is pretty small in comparison.
This has many consequences. The one that I would like to address here is how this impacts a Mormon’s view of sin. Most Mormons don’t see just how serious sin is or how serious the consequences of sinning are. They struggle to see the damning nature of sin – how one sin makes them guilty of all (James 2:10). Many are blind to how sin makes even their righteousness nothing but filthy rags (Is. 64:6).
One reason for that, I feel, stems from their view of God. When they sin it isn’t that serious, because God is like them – just greater in degree. It’s like punching your older brother. But when Christians sin, they realize how serious that is because God is so great – because he is different from us not just in degree but in kind. It’s more like punching the President of the United States. Same action as punching an older brother, but the consequences are so much more severe because the person is so different. As someone once said, “Sin is so serious because of who we sin against.”
That is why we can’t contribute anything to our salvation. If we try to add anything to Jesus’ works for us, all we accomplish is ruining his masterpiece of grace. Sin is that potent. Sin is that serious. It’s that serious because God is that great.
Before we can clearly see the Savior, we need to clearly see our sin. I encourage you to make clear to your LDS friends how serious sin really is. Show them how big God really is. Show them how his greatness emphasizes sin’s seriousness. Show them their sin and then show them the greatness of their Savior.