Not All Sin Is Created Equal

The Scripture clearly teaches that while all sin is sin, some sins are more sinful than others. Matthew 12:30-32 speaks of the unpardonable sin, in contrast to every other sin which can be forgiven by faith in Christ; Matthew 23:23 speaks of the “weightier provisions of the law;” John 19:11 says that in comparison to Pontius Pilate, Judas has the “greater sin” (see also 2 Peter 2:20-21); James 1:14-15 distinguishes between temptation, lust, conceiving, and sin. Sin can refer to full mental indulgence or the physical carrying out of that which is conceived. While the mental envisioning of say, adultery, is sin, the carrying out of the physical act worsens such sin. To wit the thought of murdering someone is sin, but the greater sin is to carry such thought to its fullness and commit the physical act of murder, for then, one has sinned in both thought and act.

Correspondingly, the Bible speaks of degrees of judgment (Matthew 11:20-24; Mark 12:38-40; Hebrews 10:26-29; Luke 12:47-48). The reasons that some sins deserve greater judgement is based upon the following; first, explicit statements that some sins are by nature greater than others (John 19:11); second, the amount of light or knowledge rejected (Matthew 11:20-24; Mark 12:38-40); third, the degree to which the sin is carried out. This can encompass either the degree to which one follows through in the sin (contemplation to actual execution) or the repetitiveness of the sin. To wit, to lie is sin, but to do so egregiously or repetitively is more sinful. We recognize such distinctions in distinguishing between a murder (a serious crime) and serial murderer (a more serious crime) without lessening the heinousness of the former; lastly, the sinfulness of sin is determined by examining how far removed it is from God’s standard or design, which is the nature of sin. Sin further from God’s design intensifies the sinfulness of the sin. The former has been corrupted, but the latter is an extreme corruption of the design of God.

The sinfulness of sin, with the exception of the unpardonable sin (rejecting God’s offer of salvation with full light by grace-enablements) does not affect the availability of salvation or how anyone is saved. God’s grace in salvation covers all sin when one accepts Christ by faith (Romans 10:9-10). As seen above, it does affect the severity of judgement. Consequently, there seem to be degrees of punishment in hell, although hell is torturous to all.

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Ronnie W. Rogers