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Are all sins the same?

How many times have you heard someone say something to the effect of “all sin is the same in God’s eyes”? I know I have heard it countless times, and the more I dig into God’s Word the more I look back at things I was taught and think to myself, “Why in the world did I believe that?” The truth is, as I can see in Scripture, that all sin is not the same. The primary argument for this stance is found in James 2:10-11, which says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” This does not tell us that all sin is the same in God’s eyes. This tells us that all sin, big or small, separates us from God and puts us in need of a Savior. Sin is sin, and all sin impacts our need for a Savior. Any sin makes us a transgressor of the law and separates us from God, but God does not say that He views all sins as being equal. In fact, in John 19:11 Jesus is speaking to Pilate about Pilate’s power to free or crucify Him and says, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” Fortunately, I believe that God is a reasonable God, and I have never found any reason not to believe this. Believing that all sin is the same in God’s eyes is simply unbiblical and unreasonable. Visiting prostitutes and buying a pair of sneakers you didn’t need are very different. Different degrees of sin have different degrees of consequence and ramifications, both in this life and the life to come.

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

– Luke 12:42-48

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[e] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

– Matthew 11:20-24

28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 

– Hebrews 10:28-29

I’m really not sure where this thought of sin being equal began, but it certainly does not need to remain. It is too often used as an excuse for people that do not want to take responsibility for their great sins, believing that their addiction is the same as someone’s rude, sarcastic comment. On the flip side, we should not use this as an excuse to believe our rude comment was no big deal and brush it aside like it doesn’t matter. We must take responsibility for our sins, large and small. Each and every sin is important and needs to be faced and dealt with, but we need not be confused into thinking all sins are equal. God showed in the Old Testament that He did not view all sins as equal. Otherwise, He would have inflicted the exact same punishment for every transgression. Do not be fooled. Different sins have different consequences and are viewed differently in God’s eyes. There are greater sins and lesser sins. The lesser sins are still sin and must be handled, of course, but eating too much at lunch has little consequence and can be dealt with, repented of, and put behind much easier than murder. 

Commanded and Called, 

Matt Atwell

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About the RBC Blog

Each week, one of the members of the RBC staff write a short blog about their area of ministry or a devotional about one of their favorite passages of Scripture. Check in with us each week to see what our church leaders have to say about their walks with the Lord! New posts appear every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. PST. 

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