Is All Sin Equal?

Is all sin equal? I had a friend back in high school say to me that all sin was equal. I asked how she knew that and she said her father told her so. I knew her dad to be spiritual so I thought to myself, huh, he must be correct. So for years, this was my view. I mean I even met people along the way that would say the same thing so it had to be true, right? I never challenged them nor did I ever ask them to show me where it was in the Bible. I thought surely if anyone said it was in the Bible they must be correct. Why would they lie? But I realized it wasn't that they lied (well some do), but either misinterpreted the Bible or like me didn't challenge the view when someone made a biblical claim. But my view changed when I challenged myself to find in the Bible where it says all sin is the same, meaning there is no greater sin than the other.

Well after searching in the Bible, I could not find any verse that specifically stated “all sin is equal” and there isn't any that says “all sin is not equal.” So where do people come up with this notion that there is no greater sin? Some refer to James 2:10 to make their point"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." But the context of this scripture deals with favoritism which often leads to discrimination. But James is saying if you break just one of the laws, you are still a lawbreaker; it does not matter the law that was broken.  He was talking about the law as a whole - you break one you are guilty of breaking laws. Thus we take this out of context when we interpret this scripture to mean if I steal some snacks from the pantry that’s the same as murdering someone. The fact is you sinned. But there is a real danger when you and I begin to categorize sin, we must remember that our judgment must be righteous and not hypocritical. For all sin hinders our relationship with God.  No matter the sin, sin is us disobeying God and missing His standard and yes that includes telling a “small white” lie. 

Even we humans have laws where not all wrongdoing carries the same punishment. Could you imagine a pedophile receiving a mere slap on the wrist for a sexual crime against a child, or a murderer getting the same punishment as someone who violated traffic laws, or imagine being in violation of a traffic law and getting beat to a pulp Tyre Nichols? If we humans have some sense of justice and fairness, how much more does our Heavenly Father, the righteous judge of all, know how to give just punishment? Yet we carry on this belief that all sin is equal.  If it is, then all punishments should be the same, right?  But in the Old Testament, Jeremiah 7, The Lord said “all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord” (v1) did worse than their ancestors (v26).  In the eyes of God all sin does not deserve the same punishment because some are worse; for instance, Leviticus 20, shows us the sins God considered deserve the death penalty. (By the way, reading Leviticus 20, puts a profound gratitude that Jesus paid it all for us.) And since God is the same God yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), in Revelation 20:13 we learn that “each person was judged according to what they had done.” Hebrews 2:1-3 warns us to pay attention to what we’ve learned through God’s word and reminds us that every disobedience to God “received its just punishment.”  Therefore, we must be careful not to categorize our sins because we are in danger of putting sins detestable to God as minor offenses and minor sins as major offenses to God.  Look at our culture today, we promote sexual immorality, take the Lord’s name in vain in our daily conversations, murder unborn babies, and idolize people, money, and politics over God and think that none of these are grave sins. But we must be careful not to fall into this trap and be worse than our fathers (Jer 7:18-26) because what culture glorifies, God just might detest. This is why I challenge you to seek truth always and know and understand what God’s standard is. While all sin is wrong, they are not all equal and we will be judged according to what we have done (Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; 14:12).


Written by: Cheryl Carty-Strachan
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