Are all sins equal in the Bible? Are all sins the same? Are all sins equal in the eyes of God? Most of us have asked these questions before. Read on to find out the answer!

Are All Sins Equal in the Bible?

Are all sins equal in the Bible? Are all sins the same? Are all sins equal in the eyes of God? Most of us have asked these questions before. Read on to find out the answer!

If you’ve been in the church for very long, you’ve probably heard, “All sins are the same!” Yes, there are some ways they’re equal:

  • The Greek word for sin is hamartanō, an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” All sins are the same: they’re examples of “missing the mark” or the standard set by God’s holy, perfect law. That’s why 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
  • They’re equal terms of being destructive, an offense to God, and demanding death as a punishment. Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.”
  • Most importantly, they are the same in that they condemn us to hell and can only be forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ.

Aside from these ways they’re equal, there are problems associated with making this well-known statement.

Watch this sermon to I delivered as a guest speaker to learn why people fail in their repentance…

There Are Practical Consequences That Prevent All Sins from Being Equal

Soon after I became a Christian, I committed a sin that had previously characterized my life for years. Although the sin hadn’t bothered me earlier, I was greatly convicted now that I was a believer. I went to an older Christian friend for counsel. He could’ve said something along the lines of:

“Yes, this is sin and it’s wonderful that you’re upset about it. God’s desire is for us to have victory over unbroken patterns of sin. You need to repent and cry out to God for His grace to help you overcome this life-dominating struggle.”

Instead, he “encouraged” me by saying:

“You need to keep in mind that all sins are equal. What you did was only as bad as worrying or lying.”

Although the man meant well, I immediately minimized my sin as soon as he said this. My brokenness was gone. I thought, “Everyone sins, and this is the sin I commit. It’s no worse than the sins others commit.” Not long after this conversation I committed the same sin again…and again.

Doesn’t Common Sense Tell Us All Sins Are Not Equal?

Every time we hear, “All sins are equal” isn’t there a nagging thought that it’s not true? Jesus said not to worry and Paul said not to be anxious. Do we really think worry and anxiousness are the same as adultery and murder?

We know the consequences for:

  • Adultery are going to be different than the consequences for gossiping
  • Stealing are going to be different than the consequences for gluttony
  • Idolatry are going to be different than the consequences for being unforgiving

The Bible Teaches that All Sins Are Not Equal

Even if there are practical consequences, and even if common sense tells us, the real question is, “Does the Bible teach all sins are equal?” No it doesn’t. While they’re the same in a few ways, they’re radically different in other ways.

1. There are three different kinds of sin

  1. Inherited sin—We received a passed-on depravity from Adam, which we commonly call our “sin nature.”
  2. Imputed sin—Even though men were sinners because of their sin natures before the Mosaic Law was given, sin wasn’t imputed. Romans 5:13 says, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” After the Law was given, sins committed in violation of the Law are accounted (imputed).
  3. Personal sin—This is the most common type of sin. We commit this type of sin every day.

2. There are Differences Between Sins

Some merit worse punishments than others:

  • Matthew 11:22-24—But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
  • Luke 10:12-14—But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.

Sexual sin is a sin against our bodies

First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”

Homosexuality is a perverse (unnatural) sin

Romans 1:26-27 says, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Bitterness has “a root” and can negatively affect many others

Hebrews 12:15 says, “Look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”

Murder is described as a sin that pollutes the land, and the blood of the victim calls out for vengeance

  • Genesis 4:10—And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”
  • Numbers 35:33—So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.
  • Psalm 106:38—And shed innocent blood,
    The blood of their sons and daughters,
    Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
    And the land was polluted with blood.

There are seven sins God hates

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

Proverbs 6:16-19

While all sin is offensive to God, the fact that the above sins are listed reveals they’re different from those not listed.

Some sins are abominations

The fact that some sins are listed as abominations reveals they’re different than those not identified as abominations.

  • Deuteronomy 27:15 Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’
  • Jeremiah 32:24 But they set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to defile it.
  • Ezekiel 5:9 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations.
  • 1 Kings 11:5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

Since all sins are not identified as abominations, some sins are clearly more abominable to God than others.

Discussion Questions
  1. Do you agree or disagree with this post?
  2. Did you previously think all sins are the same? What do you think now?
  3. Can you think of any other ways sins are the same? Different?

14 Responses

  1. In pondering this topic, all of a sudden, the 1961 trial of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, popped into my mind. I watched a good bit of it on Youtube. Sadly, ultimately, Eichmann stood by his old party line at the end, showing neither remorse nor repentance. If proof that all sin is not the same is still needed, I suggest one might take a look at this man’s story and contemplate the decisions he made in his life during his years serving his “master” in the third Reich. It definitely is an object lesson in this topic– particularly on how the damage of living in this kind of depth of depravity and pride can make it extremely difficult if not impossible for one to ‘hear and be saved.” One can become so scarred and calloused that they may be unable to “fear God even when they are about to die.” It’s absolutely chilling.

    But here’s something even more amazing, in watching this tortured, wicked man speak, I realized that he could have repented and been just as saved as anyone else because of the fact that Christ’s blood is able to save utterly. That man was no different than those two thieves hanging on crosses beside Jesus. All he would have had to do was say, “Yes.” Even wretched Eichmann could have been made clean in spite of the fact that his sins were so grave, so heinous! And get this, all Heaven would have exploded with joy over it if he would have just said, “Yes.” Amazing love, indeed.

    The most important thing to remember is this: Christ is able to save utterly those who are perishing… no matter HOW wretched they are.

    “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”

    Ezekiel 18:23 (New Living Translation)

    1. Hello Mary,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve also enjoyed studying World War II, including the Nuremburg trials. The primary reason that I became a Christian and saw it as a time in history the devil worked so hard (and failed) to exterminate the Jews. Reading the trials I was intrigued to see the number of men who were broken when presented with their horrors, as well as those – like Adolf Eichmann – who did not repent. Interestingly, Eichmann’s last words were about his belief in God:

      Long live Germany. Long live Argentina. Long live Austria. These are the three countries with which I have been most connected and which I will not forget. I greet my wife, my family and my friends. I am ready. We’ll meet again soon, as is the fate of all men. I die believing in God.

      Yes, you’re right, had he repented he could have been forgiven, which is the case for everyone. On Sunday I briefly taught on the life of Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33. He’s a tremendous example of God’s forgiveness and mercy. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your understanding of the Gospel and admiration for God’s forgiveness.

    2. Scott, Thanks for including Eichmann’s last words precisely. I said his attitude and behavior was chilling, and this is emphasized even more sharply by the fact that he actually did acknowledge the existence of God, but even demons believe in God… and shudder.

      I stumble along in my walk with Christ, ever so often confusing works with Faith. At times, the Holy Spirit reminds me, it is by Faith I am saved and not by works. It is He who will complete the work started in me. It is when I am weak I am strong.
      Then I rest and heave a sigh. He knows my heart and is quite capable of sanctifying me. I don’t have to be frightened. I just have to trust and obey.

      I think about people like this poor, wretched man, Eichmann, and I grieve so hard for them. This “side of the fence” is so good and they are missing it! The gate may be narrow, but it is specially designed to accommodate everyone.

      It reminds me of Ephesians 5…

      “Awake, O sleeper,
      rise up from the dead,
      and Christ will give you light.”

      1. Hello again Mary,
        Yes, listening to such an evil man speak so confidently about God is creepy. I think we probably all confuse work and faith at times to some extent.

        Thanks again for reading and commenting.

        God bless,

  2. I like what you say here – all sins miss the mark, but not all sins are the same. I’m picturing a dart board – everything that doesn’t hit the center of the dart board, misses the mark, but some are different and further from the mark so to say (have bigger consequences).

    I think you answer this here for the most part, but I would be interested in hearing more about how you answer the idea that, “TO GOD all sins are the same.” Often, I’ve heard this used in a similar context of 1) someone ending a marriage, versus 2) someone telling a lie.

    I think homosexuality is such a big deal, and a ‘hot topic’ because in this day, we are being bombarded by the idea, even within the church to a degree, that there is nothing wrong with it. Similarly, it is becoming more common place that there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage, within the church. One young person I know asked a youth leader about someone who stated they were a Christian, but was also an openly gay person, and the youth leader stated to the young person, “I don’t know, but I know we’re supposed to love.” I can’t put my finger on why that bothers me so much, but at the very least it causes a lot of confusion among young Christians in this day.

    1. Yes, we’d definitely say there’s a difference between a dart that’s toward the middle of the dart board versus one that’s a few feet from the board completely :). Sort of like a missed shot in basketball versus an airball.

      I don’t think we have to wonder if all sins are the same to God. We get to know what God thinks of sin in the Word, and I think (as I said in the article) that sins are presented/described differently from each other in Scripture.

      That’s tragic and very self-deceived if someone wanted to contrast divorce with telling a lie.

      That story bothers me too. Perhaps what’s most bothersome is that the statement was made by a youth pastor; someone who’s supposed to be a servant of the Lord and preacher of truth.

    2. I believe the person was a leader and not the youth pastor, but still confusing for the young person and typical, I believe, of what is happening in a majority of churches today.

      1. It is very sad.

        A mother wanted me to marry her son and his girlfriend. They were living together and since they called themselves Christians, I asked the mother why they were living together. The mother became upset and told me her and her husband lived together before they were married. She also said, “Our pastor never judged us like you’re doing.”

  3. Very good! I used to believe all sins were the same. It made me feel better about my own sin. But acknowledging these differences is important and helped me see how merciful my God is that he He still forgives even the worst sins with a repentance and change.

    1. Karla,
      It’s interesting that you said it made you feel better about your own sin. I remember a time I was very grieved – in a good way – about a sin I had committed. Someone trying to be helpful said, “Keep in mind all sins are the same. What you did is just like worrying.” As a result I didn’t feel as bad about my sin, and even engaged in it further in the future. Then someone else pointed me to a passage in Scripture that showed me the severity of my sin, and I could immediately tell it differed greatly from worrying.

  4. This was an excellent post. Very insightful. I have felt this way for quite some time but you don’t hear it preached very often. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Really glad you wrote on this! When I taught junior high and high school (at a Christian school) it seemed occasionally that the students misunderstood God’s mercy because they pretty much thought He couldn’t tell the difference between someone cheating on a test and someone getting an abortion. Almost as if God “had to” forgive because “all sins were the same to Him anyway”. Its a strange misconception, maybe derived from the idea that when you witness to someone, you may point out that even if they think they are “good” their sin will lead to death?

    1. Hi Becca,
      Thanks for checking out my blog…and commenting.

      In answer to your question, my best guess is because basically the Bible talks pretty simply about sin in a number of places without differentiating. Like for example when it says the wages of sin is death. It doesn’t say one sin brings death faster than another.

      And you’re definitely right (and I considered mentioning it in my post) that because of this “all sins are the same” mentality, people are led to feel comfortable engaging in certain sins they wouldn’t otherwise because they think it’s the same as some other sin they don’t view as seriously.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Scott's Podcast
Subscribe to Scott's Newsletter

… and receive a free ebook. 
You can unsubscribe anytime.

Newsletter subscription for Scott LaPierre with Seven Biblical Insights