If you’ve been in the church for very long you’ve probably heard, “All sins are the same!” Yes, there are some ways all sins are the same:
- The Greek word for sin is hamartanō, which is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” All sins are the same in that they’re examples of “missing the mark,” or missing the standard set by God’s holy, perfect law. That’s why 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
- All sins are the same in terms of being destructive, an offense to God, and demanding death as a punishment. Romans 6:23a says, “The wages of sin is death.”
- Most importantly: all sins are the same in that they condemn us to hell and can only be forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ.
Aside from these ways all sins are the same, there are problems associated with making this well-known statement.
Practical Consequences to Saying All Sins Are the Same
Soon after I became a Christian I committed a sin that had previously characterized my life for years. Although the sin didn’t bother me earlier, now that I was a believer, I was greatly convicted. I went to an older Christian friend for counsel. He could’ve said something along the lines of:
“Yes, this is sin and it’s wonderful that you’re upset about it. God’s desire is for us to have victory over unbroken patterns of sin. You need to repent and cry out to God for His grace to help you overcome this life-dominating struggle.”
Instead, he “encouraged” me by saying:
“You need to keep in mind that all sins are the same. What you did was only as bad as worrying or lying.”
Although the man meant well, as soon as he said this, I immediately minimized my sin. My brokenness was gone. I thought, “Everyone sins, and this is the sin I commit. It’s no worse than the sins others commit.” Not long after this conversation I committed the same sin again…and again.
Doesn’t common sense tell us all sins are not the same?
Every time we hear, “All sins are the same” isn’t there a nagging thought that it’s not true? Jesus said not to worry and Paul said not to be anxious. Do we really think worry and anxiousness are the same as adultery and murder?
We know the consequences for:
- Adultery are going to be different than the consequences for gossiping
- Stealing are going to be different than the consequences for gluttony
- Idolatry are going to be different than the consequences for being unforgiving
The Bible Teaches that All Sins Are not the Same
Even if there are practical consequences, and even if common sense tells us, the real question is, “Does the Bible teach all sins are the same?” No it doesn’t. While sins are the same in a few ways, they’re radically different in other ways.
1. There are three different kinds of sin.
- Inherited sin—We received a passed-on depravity from Adam, which we commonly call our “sin nature.”
- Imputed sin—Even though men were sinners because of their sin natures before the Mosaic Law was given, sin wasn’t imputed. Romans 5:13 says, “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” After the Law was given, sins committed in violation of the Law are accounted (imputed).
- Personal sin—This is the most common type of sin. We commit this type of sin every day.
2. There are differences between sins.
- Some sins merit worse punishments than others:
- Matthew 11:22-24—But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
- Luke 10:12-14—But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.
- Sexual sin is a sin against our bodies. First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
- Homosexuality is perverse (unnatural). Romans 1:26-27 says, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
- Bitterness has “a root” and can negatively affect many others. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
- Murder is described as a sin that pollutes the land, and the blood of the victim calls out for vengeance:
- Genesis 4:10—And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”
- Numbers 35:33—So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.
- Psalm 106:38—And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.
- While all sin is offensive to God, there are seven sins He says He hates. Proverbs 6:16-19 says “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
- A number of sins in the Old Testament are called abominations. Since all sins are not identified as abominations, some sins are clearly more abominable to God than others.
Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section
- Do you agree or disagree with this post?
- Did you previously think all sins are the same? What do you think now?
- Can you think of any other ways sins are the same? Different?