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, which is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” All sins are the same in that they’re examples of “missing the mark,” or missing 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’re 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.
Table of contents
- There Are Practical Consequences
- The Bible Teaches that All Sins Are not Equal
- 1. There are three different kinds of sin.
- 2. There are Differences
- Some merit worse punishments than others:
- Sexual sin is a sin against our bodies:
- Homosexuality is a perverse (unnatural) sin:
- Bitterness has “a root” and can negatively affect many others:
- Murder is described as a sin that pollutes the land, and the blood of the victim calls out for vengeance:
- There are seven sins God hates:
- Some sins are abominations
- Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
Watch this sermon to I delivered as a guest speaker to learn why people fail in their repentance…
There Are Practical Consequences
Soon after I became a Christian I committed a sin that had previously characterized my life for years. Although the sin didn’t bother me earlier, now that I was a believer, I was greatly convicted. 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, as soon as he said this, I immediately minimized my sin. 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 They’re 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.
- Inherited sin—We received a passed-on depravity from Adam, which we commonly call our “sin nature.”
- 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).
- Personal sin—This is the most common type of sin. We commit this type of sin every day.
2. There are Differences
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.”
- 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,Proverbs 6:16-19
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.
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 to Answer in the Comments Section
- Do you agree or disagree with this post?
- Did you previously think all sins are the same? What do you think now?
- Can you think of any other ways sins are the same? Different?