Are There Degrees of Sin?

Are There Degrees of Sin?

One of the most commonly repeated phrases in the evangelical church is that “all sin is the same”. In other words, there are no small sins and no big sins. Every sin is completely equal in God’s eyes. If you speed a bit over the posted limit, or murder someone with malice and intent, it is the same thing in God’s eyes. But is this really true? While those who use the phrase often mean well, the concept is unbiblical. All sin is not equal to human beings or to God.

The slogan “all sins are equal” is often used by those who are seeking to justify their own sin. Consider these actual responses from Twitter:

“I don’t understand why you’re so quick to judge me, when all sins are equal. So much for family”; “If you think being gay is a sin, let me ask you something? Have you not done anything wrong in your life? All sins are equal. We’re sinners”; “All sins are equal, people tend to forget that. There is no bigger or smaller sin. Being gay and lying, very equal”; “If you have sex before marriage please don’t come on social media preaching about the wrongs of homosexuality. All sins are equal.”

We live in Western culture which is obsessed with “equality”. The usage of the phrase, “all sins are equal”, is attractive in such a cultural climate. It allows everyone to be lumped together into the same obedience category. No one is more righteous than another. Now, we could ask, “Is there some truth in the statement that all sin is equal?” Yes. It is true that sin (any sin) is deadly and offensive to God. All sin cuts us off from God. However, the Bible is also clear that some sins are indeed worse than others – intrinsically worse. That is, some sins are, in and of themselves, more grievous and odious in the eyes of God.

A classic example of this comes from the lips of Jesus in the Gospel of John, when He refers to the betrayal of Judas. In this section, Jesus is addressing the religious leaders. The text reads, “Jesus answered, ‘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’” (NIV). Clearly, betrayal is a greater sin than going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit. Both are wrong, but one is really wrong! There is even one sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) so evil, that Jesus says it is “unforgiveable”. Clearly, all sin is not equal. That should be a sobering reminder if you are seeking to follow Christ and progress in holiness. And remember, holiness is the only path to lasting joy.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor