Are All Sins the Same?

There is a misconception among many people that God sees all sin the same. It is true that all sin is deserving of the wrath of God, but some sins are more heinous in his eyes than others. Jesus declared to Pontius Pilate that, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). If all sin is the same, then how could Jesus speak of their sin as being greater than his? Jesus also speaks of “the weightier matters of the law” (Matt 23:23). Some laws are more important than others and therefore breaking them is a greater crime in comparison. We also see this principle in the application of punishments for sin. Not all sins are punished with the death penalty and not all sins are criminalized. The more sinful the sin, the more serious the consequences.

This misunderstanding is partially the result of a wrong interpretation of Matthew 5:28 where Jesus says, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It is then argued that looking at a woman lustfully is the same as committing adultery with her. But this argument overlooks the key phrase in his heart. Jesus is not saying that looking at a woman with lustful intent is the same as actually committing adultery with her, but that the desire to commit adultery is the sinful root of the act of adultery. Every lustful thought would lead to adultery if taken to its logical conclusion. Likewise, when Jesus says that, “Everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,” he is not saying that anger is the same as murder, but that anger is the root cause of murder. While anger is not as sinful as murder, it is still sin in God’s eyes.

If all sin is the same, then a person could reason to himself that because he has already had lustful thoughts about a woman he is not married to, he had might as well go all the way and have an affair since an affair is no more sinful than what he has already been doing. But this is the devil’s logic that is based on a twisted view of God’s law. The truth that all sin is not the same does not mean we should think lightly of acceptable sins. Rather, acceptable sins are evil because they result in even greater sins. And once you accustom yourself to sin, it is difficult to stop. The longer you go on in sin, the more difficult it is to repent.

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