Is All Sin Equal?

Time and time again I have preached that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. However, as the question has been recently dissected and challenged, a further explanation of what I intend to communicate in this statement, and deeper examination of degrees of sin has become necessary.

Some would argue in our day that certain sin is worse in the eyes of God than others. They would use passages such as Proverbs 16:16-19 which says: There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. This passage however, and others like it, is not stating that the Lord hates these sins more than all others, and I am of the opinion that all sin would fall under the veil or be a product of one of these seven categories of wickedness. Advocates of this viewpoint also popularly point to John 19:11-12 where Jesus declares: “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin.” The Messiah was here speaking not of Judas or Pilate, but of the Jews in general and Caiaphas the high priest in particular. Jesus is not stating that the sin of Caiaphas and the Jews was most detestable to God, but rather that this sin was more blatant because unlike Pilate and the Romans, the Jews and their leaders had overwhelming evidence placed before them that Jesus was in fact the Son of God. Furthermore, it was Caiaphas who, humanly speaking, had put Pilate in the position he was in. As D.A. Carson acknowledges: “Pilate remains responsible for his spineless, politically motivated judicial decision; but he did not initiate the trial or engineer the betrayal that brought Jesus into court.” Therefore, the sin of Caiaphas was more extreme and intentional than was that of Pilate, though no less condemning.

Still others would point to the unpardonable sin that Christ spoke of in Matthew 12:32 and Luke 12:10. To paraphrase, “All transgression, including speaking against Jesus, is pardonable on earth, but blasphemy (speaking against the revealed truth) of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.” Jesus here is not stating that a spoken word against the Spirit cannot be forgiven but rather open and willful rejection of the revealed truth and gracious conviction of the Spirit cannot be forgiven. The only person who is forever damned with no hope of salvation is the person who blasphemes the Holy Ghost by refusing to embrace His revealed truth concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ.

In light of the whole of sacred writ I can adamantly declare that all trespass against the Lord of glory, no matter how great or small, is equally disgusting in His sight, equally deserving of Divine wrath, and equally led to the slaughter of the Lamb of God who became rape, envy, molestation, gossip, genocide, and gluttony of the cross (Romans 1:18). The morally upright, religiously charged man who is relying of His goodness to get him to heaven is just as wicked and just as in need of grace as is the morally corrupt prostitute who revels is her depravity.

With all of this being said, it is important to realize that while all sin is equally repulsive to the Lord, Scripture does indicate that there will be differing levels of torment in hell. Jesus Himself teaches this reality in passages such as Matthew 11:20-24:
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:28-29) builds upon this point as does the apostle Peter (2 Peter 2:20-22). Jesus again declares this truth in Luke 12:47. In all of these passage the truth is abundantly evident. The degrees of punishment under eternal wrath are solely dependent upon how much light a person has received and rejected. Therefore, it is not the murders or sex offenders who will receive the greater torment in the place of the damned, but rather those who repeatedly and willfully rejected the power of the Gospel.

I hope that this serves to bring clarity on this subject. My prayer is that we will all have an increased understanding of the depravity of every heart, and, with that an increased appreciation for the depth of Divine grace.

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