Reformation Scotland: Are all sins equal?
Is quite common to hear the notion that all sins are the same in God’s sight or that no sin is worse than any other sin. The reasoning behind this is that one breach of God’s law makes us guilty of breaking all commands (James 2:10). Another way this is justified is by saying that all sin meets the same penalty (Romans 6:23) or that its remedy is the same in the cross of Christ. The motivation behind this can be well-intentioned, perhaps not wanting any sin to be seen as small in itself. It deflects unwanted moral judgments by requiring that others must be without sin themselves to avoid hypocrisy. Perhaps the overwhelming emphasis on equality in our culture also steers people towards this idea. But is it right to say that all sins are equal?
Let’s be clear that Scripture does say that some sins are worse than others (Exodus 32:30).
- Some idolatry is even worse than other forms (Ezekiel 8:6, 13,15; Ezekiel 23:11);
- Some commandments are of greater weight than others (Matthew 5:19; Matthew 23:23);
- Some sins are worse because they involve sinning wilfully and defiantly (Numbers 15:30 and 15:22, 24, 27, 29);
- Some sins are worse than others, such as sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18);
- Some sexual sins are worse than other sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1; Romans 1:26-27; Leviticus 20:10-16 compared with 20:17-21)