In our church wide study on Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Hole In Our Holiness, a really good question is being brought up this week. In chapter five the question is asked if all sins are the same or not. So for those wanting to think it through more, here are some Bible passages that give insight.
So what’s the answer? According to the Bible -yes and no. There are ways in which all sins are the same. Yet, at the same time, there are ways in which all are not the same. Check out the following list and please feel free to comment with your own addition to the list. Of if you have more questions, please ask!
In these ways all sins are the same:
- All sins belittle God and exalt self (Isa 53:6, Rom 3:23).
- All sins are a rejection of God and His righteousness (Rom 1:18; 3:10-18).
- Any sin, regardless of what it is, is a violation of all the rest of God’s commands in terms of being guiltybefore God so that there should be no partiality in how believers love and show mercy to fellow sinners (James 2:8-13).
- All sins make sinners deserving of God’s wrath and judgment (Rom 6:23).
- All sins inflict a guilty conscience and hinder communion with God (Ps 32:3).
- Any offense might, as much as any other, hinder harmony between people (1 Cor 10:32-33).
- All sins are the same in that they find redemption only through the atonement of Christ (Rom 5:18-19).
- All sins, equally, must be confessed to God and, if possible, the person offended (1 John 1:8-9, James 5:16).
In these ways all sins are not the same:
- The Old Testament law prescribed differing offerings or penalties for different violations (Lev 4).
- Jesus refers to the “least” of the commandments and the “weightier matters” of the law signifying in His mind differing degrees in God’s law and therefore differing degrees in disobedience (Matthew 5:19; 23:23; John 19:11).
- Some sins are committed intentionally while others are unintentional incurring greater or lesser punishments (Lev 5:17, Num 15:27-30, Luke 12:48).
- Sins differ in that some may be in thought only whereas others involve thoughts that become acted out (Matthew 5:22, James 1:14-15). So there is a difference between the sin of coveting a neighbor’s spouse, which is adultery in thought, versus coveting and committing adultery physically. These are two different offenses with different possible effects.
- Offenses carry differing levels of seriousness based on whether the one who committed the sin, is a teacher or one to whom much has been given, etc. (James 3:1, Luke 12:48).
- Sins differ in the consequences commanded or given by God in this life with some ending a marriage or disqualifying one from remarriage, some excluding one from church membership or serving as a leader, some resulting in sickness or even death (Matthew 19:9, 1 Cor 5:1-13, 1 Tim 3:1-13, 1 Cor 11:27-30).
- Sins have differing effects upon people and relationships in this life in obvious ways (compare murder, stealing, adultery to worry or not tithing).
- The judgment and punishment of some will be worse because their sin differs in that it was committed in spite of having seen more of God’s works or knowing more of God’s will (Matt 11:20-22, Luke 12:47-48, Hebrews 10:29).
- God’s punishment upon sinners in hell is spoken of in scripture as if there will be differing degrees according to the sinful acts committed, without partiality (1 Peter 1:17, Col 3:25).
- God’s rewards in heaven for believers are also spoken of in scripture as if there will be differing degrees according to the specific person’s obedience (Matt 6:20).
- Scripture also promises rewards in this life to believers depending on whether or not they obey God’s commands so that disobedience would result in varying degrees of missing these rewards (Matt 7:24-27, Luke 11:28, John 13:17, James 1:25).