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Are All Sins Equal?

Joey asked:

Are All Sins Equal?

Joey, my answer may not be very satisfying to you because it's both "yes" and "no." In Christian circles, we often hear the statement that all sins are equal. But is this a biblical teaching? Does Scripture assert that every sin, whether it be telling a small lie or committing murder, holds the same weight in God's eyes? Let's explore what the Bible teaches about the nature of sin, its consequences, and God's view on it.

The Nature of Sin

To delve into this topic, we first must understand sin. 1 John 3:4 (ESV) defines sin as lawlessness: "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness." In essence, any act, thought, or intention that contradicts God's holy standard can be considered a sin.

This is why I would answer your question with "Yes." From the very first sin committed by Adam and Eve in Genesis, it is clear that any sin, regardless of human-perceived magnitude, causes a separation between us and God. Romans 3:23 (ESV) says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." This implies that any sin, small or large, puts us in a position of needing God's forgiveness and redemption.

Some Sins Are Graver than Others

Despite the equality of sin in separating us from God, the Bible indicates that not all sins are the same in terms of their consequences and their level of offense to God. This is why I would answer your question with "No."

Jesus Himself taught this when He was on trial before Pilate. In John 19:11 (ESV), Jesus said to Pilate, "Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin." This statement implies a gradation in sinfulness.

In the gospels, Jesus talks about an unforgivable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Mark 3:29 (ESV) reads, "but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin." This, too, suggests a distinction in the severity of sins.

This is reflected, I think justly, in the legal system. Different sins carry different consequences. For instance, stealing a candy bar and committing murder will have vastly different legal and relational repercussions. The Bible also implies a variation in rewards and punishments, which could reflect the nature and impact of our earthly deeds. Revelation 22:12 (ESV) quotes Jesus as saying, "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done."

So, from a Biblical perspective, all sins are equal in the sense that they separate us from God and make us fall short of His glory. However, Scripture also suggests a distinction in the severity and consequences of sins, indicating that while all sins are an affront to God, they may not all be equal in their ramifications or offense to God.

We must remember that God's forgiveness through Jesus Christ is available for all sins, and it's His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4, ESV). As believers, we're called to strive for holiness, knowing we serve a God who is merciful and just.

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