Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Is all sin equal in the eyes of God?

Have you heard people say that all sins (i.e. wrongdoings) are the same, or equal, before God? Is this notion true?

This notion may come from Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). It may also come from the reality that we are all, without exception, sinners in need of salvation (Rom. 3:23). The idea that a person who tries to keep the Old Testament Law, and breaks just one command, is guilty of breaking the whole Law, adds to this uncompromising picture (Jas 2:10; cf. Gal. 3:10).

Is all sin equal in the eyes of God?Our society, however, recognises that murder is a much more serious offense than, say, forgetting to return a library book on time. Consequently, healthy societies punish culprits in proportion to the severity of their wrongdoing, and sometimes they even let the wrongdoer go with just a warning or reprimand. If we can recognise a difference between the severity and consequences of various wrongdoings, certainly God can too. Is God less just or less merciful than we are?

I’m not so sure that all sins are the same or equal to God. In the Old Testament we see that there are sins that God immediately dealt with and punished, but others that he seemed to overlook and ignore. Perhaps the most clear evidence that God does not regard all sin as equal, however, is this statement in 1 John 5:17: “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” (Italics added) John’s statement here seems to contradict a common understanding of Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23.

Since Jesus atoned for our sins and brings salvation, it is largely irrelevant whether all sins are equal or if only some sins lead to death. So I propose we get rid of the meaningless, and possibly incorrect, notion that all sins are equal in God’s eyes and focus instead at the wonder and truth of his salvation freely offered to all.

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:22-26 (cf. Acts 13:38-39; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:9, etc.)


Endnote

These verses also indicate that there a different degrees of sin and different kinds of sin: Matt. 11:21-22; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:46-48; 1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Peter 2:20-21. There are also different degrees of responsibility and accountability (Luke 12:48).


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Posted October 22nd, 2015 . Categories/Tags: Christian Theology, Salvation and Eternal Life, , ,

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3 comments on “Is all sin equal in the eyes of God?

  1. Anthony Borrelli says:

    With all love and respect, I do believe that you are missing the point here. I greatly support the “progressive” Christianity that includes full gender equality. I want to make that very clear. We are on the same page-usually-but not now. The purpose of the Old Testament law was NOT primarily to keep His people on the straight and narrow. A Jew or Muslim might take it that way, but a Christian, who uses the New Testament to interpret the Old (The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed) knows that the main purpose of the OT law was to prove to human beings that they could not possibly be saved by works or adherence to the law, because their sin nature made it impossible for them to keep the law. Therefore God Himself (or Herself if you prefer) had to pay that sin debt by taking on flesh and dying for our sins. The perfect, unblemished, sacrificial Lamb Of God alone could save us, as we are totally depraved as Calvin claimed and in our will was in bondage to our sin nature, as Luther claimed. The idea of God viewing one sin as worse than another has been used by the Papacy to create Purgatory and indulgences via “venial” vs. “mortal” sin, and worse, used by hate mongers to make homosexuality and abortion the main “mortal” sins and waging war under false pretenses and racking up “collateral” damage as mere “venial” sins as the price of “doing business” in the world.

    • Marg says:

      Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. My words were written with only the Scriptures in mind, not the words or deeds of Calvin, the papacy, or hate mongers.

      I think I made it plain that we are all in need of the salvation that is only available through Jesus. However, I still see that not all sins are treated the same in the Bible. Nevertheless, it is not something I wish to push. My words simply represent my observations rather than convictions.

      By the way, I don’t identify as a progressive Christian, and I have never called God “her”. I am an evangelical Baptist with a couple of operative spiritual gifts.

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