All Sins Are the Same

God, Sin, Bible
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A man in our Bible study was arrested for rape, and the following week, one lady said,
“Well, I know he sinned, but when I gossip I'm no different. God sees all sins the same.”

She was only partially correct. In these ways all sins are the same:

  1. Any sin keeps us from heaven if we don’t trust Jesus.
  2. Any sin can be forgiven when we repent.(1)
But this doesn’t mean God sees all sins equally in all respects.

God judges sins differently(2) according to:
  1. Motive (Numbers 15:22-31; Luke 12:47-48).
  2. Knowledge and opportunity (Luke 12:48; John 19:11).
  3. Position and influence (James 3:1; Mark 12:38-40).
  4. Type of sin (Exodus 21:12; 22:1; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Matthew 18:6-7; Matthew 12:31; 23:23).
Why is this important for us to understand?
Because believing God sees all sins the same is a distortion of God's holy character. If we view rape, gossip, irresponsibility and homosexuality alike, we are not defining sin the way God defines it.

(1) Mark 3:28-29 tells us that there is one sin that is unforgivable: blasphemy against the Spirit.
(2 While God clearly defines some sins worse than others, this doesn't mean we are capable of creating a perfect ranking system for all sins. Governments are forced to do this for their criminal code, but it doesn't always take into account the motives/knowledge and opportunities that only God can know. 

Because this is such a popular misunderstanding, I've included a number of resources from various denominational backgrounds, all confirming that, according to the Bible, sins are not all equal in God's eyes.

Are All Sins the Same in God's Eyes? (Billy Graham Association) 
Are All Sins Equal (Pastor Aaron Gray, Mars Hills)
Are All Sins Equal (Got Questions) 
Does God Look At Sins Equally? (Assembly of God website) 
Are Sins Equal? (John Piper video/text) 
Are Sins Equal? (Christian Apologetics ministry) 
Are All Sins Equal? (Apologetics Press).
Does God View All Sins the Same? A longer version of this 1-minute devotion

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20 comments:

  1. WOW, excellent verses you cited and good points! Those are constantly quoted statements and you certainly gave me much to think about. THe James 3:1 verse is always in my head when I type up blog articles… Very sobering.

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    1. Yes, Jacqueline, it is sobering to know that teachers are held more accountable. I'm glad I gave you food for thought.

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  2. I don't know how much of a pain it would be for you, but I think it would be great if you could have some or all of the referenced Bible verses ON this page. I want to read them, but don't want to open them all. Very good post, I love these one minute devotions :)

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    1. I can see how that might be easier, Rachel. The reason I link them is to keep the devotions brief. But I link them so they will open in another window if you want to open them and continue reading the devotion. The longer devotion I wrote which I referred to and linked at the bottom doesn't contain the full content of the passages, but it explains them with more details. So you might want to check it out. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  3. Thank you Gail! I hear that common misconception all the time and it makes me crazy.

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  4. I actually don't think any of those verses "prove" that rape is worse than gossip. Because while God does say that some things are "worse" or will be judged more harshly (mostly in terms of leading people away from Him, or people not accepting Him), it's not the things that we judge most harshly. And yes, I clicked on and read them all.

    Also, what do you do with this verse? James 2:10? To me, that says that sin is sin. If you've sinned at all (even a small one), then you have sinned and that's all that matters.

    Some things may be judged differently, but the point people are making is that in God's eyes, even if you haven't committed a rape, you've gossipped and you're just as in need of forgiveness as the guy who committed a rape. And, if he repents and you don't, than you'd be the one suffering worse consequences.

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    1. Hi Crystal,
      Sometimes it's easy to miss things when reading something. I do it all the time. But my devotion makes the same point you are making: "Any sin keeps us from heaven if we don’t trust Jesus, and any sin can be forgiven when we repent..." and James 2:10 supports that point.

      When people say "God views all sins" to make the point above, they're accurate. But most people I've heard make this comment have been led to believe that God sees all sins the same in every way. And that's a huge misunderstanding about God's holy nature as the linked verses make clear.

      You might also have missed my footnote where I explain that we can't create a specific hierarchy of sins since we do not know men's motives and opportunities, but neither can we ignore God's Scriptural explanations about the more serious nature of some sins.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment,
      Gail

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  5. I find it easier not to sin. :-) Seriously, all of us sin and I'm thankful we have Heavenly Father who cares so much that He convicts us--and then forgives. I appreciate all the Biblical references you've made. It's the only place to find the answers.

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  6. You always make me think and I like that!! I read this on my phone (I never comment when I read posts on my phone) and I read it carefully again :-) I look forward to your posts in my inbox everyday. Gail, you are such a blessing!!

    Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home this week.

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  7. Eeww! This is so good!!! Just heard that statement the other day. "All sins are the same" in reference to a gross choice of a leader, vs, a bad thought. Thanks for making God's Holy Word so much clearer for us all!

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  8. I have been following your blog for a few weeks now, and the one thing I LOVE about it is you do not just take the easy road. I love how you link to the verses, although I see Rachel's point. But when I link to one verse and read it, it almost always makes me dig further to another. FYI I also like reading the comments ;) Believe me your 1 Minute Bible Love Notes always end up being mare than that. (Visiting from Christian Mommy Blogger)

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    1. Thanks so much! I appreciate and read every comment left.

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  9. Great links. Thanks for the post.

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  10. All of these verses you mention really speak about the degree of consequence of those sins mentioned(mostly earthly consequences, just a couple not). But I keep going back to the verses in Matthew. Matthew 5:21-22 and 27-28 about murder and adultery. It seems as though Jesus is comparing murder to anger(harboring it) and adultery to lust...These have to do with the attitudes and the heart of the person committing those sins. These are the verses that i've always heard to verify the belief that God sees all sin the same...a sin is a sin....And you agreed with Crystal about James 2:10...so, I'm not sure I understand the differentiation you are making. All sin leads us to hell, as you acknowledged, unless we accept Christ and live for Him; in which case we have his forgiveness and blood covering us, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Of course it is easy as humans to place sins in different categories, but Jesus didn't die different degrees of deaths for the different sins...just once and for all. Can you try to speak to my confusion? Thanks :)

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    1. I do think your confusion may be over the two ways sins are the same: any sin keeps us from heaven, every sin can be forgiven by God.* Verses like James 2:10 speak specifically to that aspect, not to the equality of sins.

      And you're right that the degrees of sin matter here on earth, not in heaven. But this doesn't simply boil down to consequences. It also brings with it a deeper responsibility to guard against certain sins and realize that those who commit certain sins are farther from the Lord's will (more deceived) than those who commit "lesser" sins.

      That's why I shared the example of 1 Corinthians 6:18 that gives special warning against sexual sins. There are other verses that confirm this warning. For example,Romans 1 talks about man spiraling down deeper and deeper into sin and farther away from God and homosexuality is mentioned as a sin that occurs when man has gone so far from God that God "gives him over to shameful lusts" (Romans 1:26-27).

      I also understand the confusion of Matthew 5:21-28. I think you're right--many people use these verses to teach that all sins are equal. But in this passage, Jesus makes the point that godliness is not merely external, but also internal. He never mentions equality or differences between sins...that's not the purpose of this passage. But it is the purpose of the other passages I referenced.

      Why do I think it's important that we view sins unequally? Because God views them unequally. And He gives us His Word so we can have His mind and not be confused by popular theories or traditions handed down by well-meaning Christians (Colossians 2:8). I believe when we say God views rape and gossip on the same level, we misrepresent the heart of God.

      As Christians, we have the responsibility to test everything against the full message of Scripture. I am constantly discovering that not everything I was taught by well-meaning Christian teachers is biblical. And my desire is to know God's heart and mind.

      I hope this helps. Bless you and thanks for taking the time to comment and ask questions.

      *God does mention sin that cannot be forgiven in Matthew 12:31 and 1 John 5:16. I confess I do not fully understand these passages.

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  11. You have a great site! I loved the listen to the Bible lesson feature. I was blessed by it! I am stopping by from Women Living Well's blog hop today. Would love your visit!

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  12. Perfect, I needed this devotion to help me explain this exact topic to someone. Thanks Gail. Your ministry is a blessing.

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    1. I'm always blessed to know that a devotion is helpful. Thanks for your encouragement.
      Gail : )

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  13. Please could you tell me what does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Is it something you would have said to Him or done against Him. I have never fully known and worry about it. Thanks

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    1. Hi Louise,
      This is a question that troubles most people at one time or another. While it is not entirely clear what the passages about the unpardonable sin mean, Bible scholars agree that anyone who commits the unpardonable sin has hardened their heart so much that they have no desire to follow Christ.

      That is: if a person is worried about committing the sin, they have not committed it because someone who committed it would have no regret or conscience about it.

      Here are a couple of articles that explain it more thouroughly:
      http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/why-blasphemy-against-holy-spirit-unpardonable-sin

      https://billygraham.org/answer/what-is-the-unpardonable-sin-i-am-afraid-i-may-have-committed-it/

      I pray that God will give you a peace about this question, Louise.
      God bless you.
      Gail



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