Is All Sin the Same?

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Does the Bible say that all sin is the same?  I can’t think of a specific verse which makes this statement so where does this idea come from?  I believe this idea is drawn from several passages.  The first being the Sermon on the mount where Jesus addresses the ideas of justifying one sin because of a similar yet more heinous sin.  The religious leaders had given them instructions but Jesus was contradicting their teaching.  Jesus would say “You have heard that it was said”.  Jesus was essentially saying that its not about finding a way which is convenient for you, the measure is holiness for God said “Be holy because I am holy”.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus compares murder to hating your brother and even being angry with your brother.  Jesus seeks to squash justifying sin but does not mean to infer that sins are equally bad or unacceptable. To do so ends up with the same problem; it minimizes sin and opens doors that shouldn’t be open. For example; If I am attracted then why not flirt and since it’s all the same and we are consenting adults then what’s wrong with the next step of adultery.  The second place is in 1 John.  In this epistle John calls the church to purity and holiness.  The focus here is on the doctrine of regeneration.  It is expected  that if a person is truly born again they will not make a practice of sin but abiding in Christ will be transformed into His likeness.

Matt 5:21-22 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ESV
1John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. ESV
James 2:10-11 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.   ESV

There is no explicit statement that all sins are equal in these verses but it may be seen as one possible meaning that the verses may imply, a implicit inference which might be drawn from the passage.  Implicit meanings are generally suspect to some degree because there is a good chance that the author did not intend to convey such an implicit meaning.  This is a possible implication but implicit meanings drawn from a text, especially, need to be brought under the scrutiny of other bible passages.  The reformers taught that sacred scripture is its own best interpreter.  We find in several passages God taking a stronger stand against certain sins.  For example Proverbs 6 lists sins God hates and detests (haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands quick to shed blood, etc) and in Matthew 18 God says if anyone leads little ones astray they would be better off having imploded in the depths of the sea.  God does show greater disdain for certain sins.  Scripture does not say all sin is the same; all sin is unacceptable by the Holy God, but, it is not equally disdainful to God.

Consider a judge and the case of a seven year old girl taking a piece of candy from the corner store.  Say this judge gives this seven year old girl the same sentence as a serial killer;  would we consider such a Judge just?  May it never be that we would consider God in this manner for our God is just.  Time and time again we see the scripture comparing degrees of sin; Amos 5:12, Jeremiah 16:12,  Matthew 10:15, Matthew 12:31,  John 19:11, 2 Corinthians 5:10, John  19:11.

Each sin creates an insurmountable gulf between us and the requirements of holy justice.  Only the cross can pay such a debt and bridge that gulf.  God in His holiness must look upon sin with disdain but that doesn’t mean it is equally disdained.  But neither are we to look upon our brothers sin as an excuse for our own because that is a sin as well as we presume to take the place of grace and justify ourselves.  The point of the sermon on the mount and of 1 John is that God removes any pretense we may have for justifying our sin by comparing it to any other sin or anyone else’s sin.  When it comes down to the end, at the final judgement there is only one standard and that standard is God’s and His Holiness.  The verses in Mt 5:21-22 and 1 John 3:15 are calls to holiness; we are not to justify any sin by comparing it on a scale to someone else’s sin so as to make an excuse for our sin.  That of itself is another sin.  If we look at James 2:10 we must consider verse 11 to come to a clear understanding.  The point is that if you break one law you are a sinner, it is not saying all sins are the same.

Romans 2:4-5
4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.


About Last Fiddle
I have always had many interests; technology, science, philosophy, theology, politics, history, etc... Currently, life for the past twelve years has placed me in the area of technology fulfilling roles in System Administration and Architecture. But I have always been involved in the local church and enjoy researching and discussing issues of theology, philosophy, history and politics...

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