We often hear people say that all sins are equal; that there are not any that are greater than others because no matter what the transgression–whether a lie or murder–it will still keep a person out of heaven.
Though it is true that any sin will keep one banished from this eternal home of the saved, is it true that all sins are equal? Let us consider this today.
From a human standpoint, we tend to rate sins, and some do seem worse than others. In fact, some terribly so. Murder, for example, would be much worse than hating a brother–though God would still see the latter as a type of “murder in the heart” (cf. 1 Jn. 3:15; Matt. 5:21,22). But the actual act of murder committed out of hatred or anger–in addition to sinful malice–also wrongly takes away a human life that was created in the image of God. So, isn’t this then at least a “double sin”?
Though sexual immorality was common in the days of the apostle Paul, there was one branch of this, incest, that he points out as “is not even named among the Gentiles” (1 Cor. 5:1). I don’t believe Paul is saying that it never existed, but as a rule, or generally speaking, it did not; and the implication also being that the Jews would have viewed it as even more abhorrent than these Gentiles. This would, therefore, seemingly be thought of as a sin which was worse than some other sexual sins (which would also still be our common view toward it today).
We could probably make our own list of rated sins, beginning with what seems to us as being the worse and working down; but does God view some sins as being greater than others?
We can answer this by making an inference with Matthew 22:35-40. In this passage, a lawyer had asked Jesus (actually, to test Him), “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” The Lord said that it was to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He referred to this as the “first and greatest commandment.” Then He even added a second commandment (which, though important to obey, was not the “foremost” commandment). Would it, therefore, not be a “greater” sin to violate the “first” commandment than the secondary one? Most would probably think so. However, regardless of what sin one commits, heaven will be forfeited.
In the Old Testament, sins of ignorance or unintentional sins do not appear to be as bad as a willful sin, yet they still had to be atoned for (Heb. 9:7; Num. 15:22-31), We know that ignorance will not be an excuse in the judgment day (Acts 17:30,31); and even during Hosea’s time, many of God’s people were being destroyed because of “lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).
Peter shows that it is worse for one who comes to the knowledge of the truth, becomes a Christian, and is set free from the world to then go back into sin than the one who never knew the truth. Though both will be lost in the judgment day, it will be worse for the backslidden Christian because he was on the road to eternal life with heaven almost within his grasp. Is it therefore worse for the Christian to sin than for the non-Christian who commits the same wrong? Some will say the child of God should not only know better, but also has much more to lose because of his sin. The bottom line, however, is that all sin is wrong; for sin is “the transgression of the law,” or simply, “lawlessness,” as the NASB states (1 Jn. 3:4); and the law being violated is God’s (the highest law of all).
Therefore, whether it is a “little white lie” or a monstrous murder, the eternal penalty is the same. If you remember, it was merely because of a lie (and the attitude of their heart that accompanied it) that caused Ananias and Sapphira to lose their lives as the consequence (Acts 5 1-11).
Though some sins do appear to be greater than others from man’s standpoint, as well as God’s, let us never take any sin lightly; but, rather, realize that no matter how small the transgression might seem, it required the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for that sin so that man could be set free from its bondage (Heb. 2:9, 14-15). Any sin, therefore, is a serious matter; and we must strive to avoid all transgressions at any cost.
May we never be found trying to extenuate, condone, or justify any transgression. Rather, if we are guilty of sin, we must face up to it and deal with it in our lives. For if we want to be forgiven of our wrongs and be saved, we must meet the Lord’s requirements.
Sadly, we live in a time when more and more people are trying to redefine that which God formerly called sin. Marriage, divorce and marrying again is running rampant in our time, and, unfortunately, the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:9 continue to be disregarded by the masses. Murder, violence, disrespect toward human life, homosexuality, cohabitation, fornication, stealing, cheating, vulgar speaking, jealousy, slander, lying, gossip, and numerous other sins are all too common today. Many of these are no longer viewed by society as being the sin in which God’s word clearly declares it as being.
The morals of our society are sinking low, while some of the immoralities are being exalted in the movie industry, and in many modern-day books, as well as in real life. There are already those who do not even accept the reality of sin. But remember, until one does, there is no way that that person can even begin to come to Jesus Christ, for the Lord did not come for the righteous, but the sinner (Luke 5:32).
If you have forgotten what sin is, please turn to the New Testament today. Don’t let society, the media, or merely your own feelings define it for you, let God, For He is the One that we each, who have reached an age of accountability, have sinned against (Rom. 3:10, 23). And He the one who, no matter how great your, sins might be, wants to save you from every wrong you’ve ever committed and provide you with an eternal home in heaven (2 Peter 3:9). The price has been paid (1 Peter 1:18-20). God’s salvation plan has been given (Rom. 1:16). It is now up each one of us to begin in our own hearts toward our destination of heaven by yielding in full allegiance–by our faith and by our obedience–to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For He is the “author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). And having done so, your sins, -whether – great or small, will each be forgiven, blotted out, and removed as far as the east is from the west (Acts 2:38; Psa. 103:12).
If you are still carrying your burden of sin, why not obey the Lord so that He may take that burden away? What greater blessing can there be than to have the remission of sins, which also results in becoming a child of God, having the hope of eternal life, and being in a Spiritual and harmonious relationship with the eternal Creator of the Universe who loves His people with an everlasting love and will bring them to a place of ultimate bliss.