IS ALL SIN EQUAL IN GOD’S SIGHT?
Many times, I hear Christians say that all sin is equal in God’s sight. Is this true? 1st Samuel 15:23 says “Rebellion is as the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” That seems to equate seemingly severe sins with those that seem less severe. Jesus Himself said that anyone who lusts after a woman has already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Does that mean that thinking something sinful is as bad as doing it?
These statements were given to keep people from minimizing their rebellion or arrogance or lust by saying, “Well, at least I didn’t act on it.” Sin is sin, and all sin is evil in God’s sight. God wants us to know the severity of wrong thoughts and attitudes. The heart matters. Thoughts count. Everything we do originates in our heart (Matthew 15:19).
But does that mean a lustful thought is as bad in God’s sight as adultery, or anger at someone is the same as killing them? We don’t want to minimize any sin, but it certainly seems some sins are worse than others in the evil intent behind them as well as the consequences of their actions.
Billy Graham said it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others, both in motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different from exterminating millions of people. Since may also differ at the root.
Scripture teaches degrees of punishment at judgment. Some people will have it easier than others. For example, Sodom’s punishment will be lighter than Capernaum’s since Sodom’s opportunities were few compared to Capernaum where they saw and rejected Jesus Himself (Matthew 10:15).
Jesus said some who deserved punishment would receive many blows and others few blows (Luke 12:47-48), depending on what they did with the opportunities they were given. He also pronounced more severe condemnation on the religious leaders for their pride and unbelief than those in darkness who were sexually immoral (Matthew 23:13).
Sin is still sin. We cannot minimize any of it. But not all sin is equal. We cannot think that stealing something small is as bad as taking someone’s life. All sin is awful and an afront to our living God. But the fact that God has different degrees of punishment for sins shows that some sins are worse than others. In the Old Testament, not everyone received a death penalty for sin (Numbers 35:16). Some were excommunicated (Leviticus 7:20). Others faced various penalties.
Yes, all sin is sin in God’s sight. But some sins have greater consequences in this life and in eternity. We cannot look at any sin and think of it as little. All sin is deserving of death. All sin is horrible and reprehensible to God. But some sins are even more horrible and reprehensible. We are not any better because we do not commit those sins.
Psalm 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”
1 John 1:8-10 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Do you excuse some sins in your life as small and unimportant? Do you ever justify a sin you commit by it isn’t as bad as some other sins? Do you have a hard time accepting Jesus’ forgiveness for your sins?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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