Is all sin equal in the mind of God? I’ve heard this taught and even believed it to be true most of my life. I do believe that all kinds of sins will condemn us and separate us from God if we do not repent of it. However, not all sins are equal in their degree of wrongness, effect or severity of God’s justice against it.
Please note these passages that lead me to understand that God views some sins more grievous and harmful than others:
John 19:11 (NKJV)
Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Here, the Lord Himself says that one sin is a “greater sin.” That passage alone could settle the question but the Bible has more to say.
2 Timothy 3:13 (NKJV) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Paul is saying that men can become worse sinners and do worse sins. If all sins are equal how could one grow worse?
Psalm 19 addresses 2 Types of sins, secret and presumptuous. Secret Sin is done in ignorance while presumptuous is done with full knowledge that it is evil but one choses to do it any way.
Psalm 19:13 (NKJV)
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
The presumptuous sin is the GREAT transgression. It is as though I am shaking my fist in God’s face and saying “I don’t care what You say or how much you despise what I am doing I’m going to do it anyway.” God sees this as more serious in His sight than sin done in ignorance.
Proverbs 6:16 (NKJV)
These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
What is the point in this passage? If all sins are equal in God’s sight what is the writer saying here? He is saying that here are seven sins that are particularly evil in God’s eyes.
Exodus 32:30 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”
Moses here categorizes the sin of idolatry as a “great” sin.
1 Samuel 2:22–24 (NKJV)
Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. 24 No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress.
Here again, the Bible makes a difference between a sin against men and a sin against God showing that one is more serious than the other.
1 John 5:16 (NKJV)
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.
And again the Bible does show there are different types and degrees of sin.
2 Peter 2:20 (NKJV)
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
Notice the latter end of this person is worse than the beginning. This person has sinned worse having known the way of escape and returned to it. Why would God punish one more harshly than the other if all sins are equal?
1 Timothy 5:8 (NKJV)
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Here, Paul points out that an unbeliever is lost but a Christian who does not provide for his own is worse than that unbeliever.
If we think about the Justice of God it would demand that he punish sins that offend Him more greatly would be punished more severely. It doesn’t paint a righteous picture of God to say that a person who horrifically abuses a child be punished the same as one who steals a candy bar at the local grocery store. The Bible has taught us that mistreatment of innocents and widows is particularly offensive to the justice of God.
Joseph D. Chase
Based on an Article by Don Blackwell