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Are all sins the same?

You’ve probably heard, “All sins are the same!”

While people might mean well when they make this statement, the problem is it’s not true. While sins are the same in some ways, they’re radically different in other ways. This means…they aren’t the same!

How are sins different?

First, there are three different kinds of sin:

  1. We received a passed-on depravity from Adam, which we commonly call our “sin nature.” This is an inherited sin.Are all sins the same?
  2. There’s also “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 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.
  3. The most common type of sin is personal sin. This is the sin committed every day by every human being as a result of our sin natures.

Second, there are differences between the various sins committed:

  • Some sins will merit worse punishments than others (Matt 11:22-24, Luke 10:12-14).
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18 describes sexual sin as a sin against our own bodies. Stealing is a sin, but it’s not discussed this way.
  • Romans 1:24-32 describes homosexuality as unnatural and a sin against nature. Lying is a sin, but it’s not described this way.
  • Hebrews 12:15 says bitterness is a sin that defiles many, but that’s not said of any other sin.
  • Murder is described as a sin that pollutes the land, and the blood of the victim calling out for vengeance (Gen 4:10, Num 35:33, Psa 106:38). Gossip is a sin, but when someone’s gossiped about we’re not told their blood calls out for vengeance and we’re not told the land is defiled.
  • Proverbs 6:16-17 lists seven sins God hates. We like to say God hates all sin, but apparently there are some sins He hates more than others. Many people would probably be surprised by what’s listed and not listed. For example, the 7th sin – which is actually singled out from the rest – is sowing discord or causing division. How many people would say they consider divisiveness one of the “worst” sins? Sometimes Christians act like homosexuality is worse than anything else, but it’s not mentioned.
  • There are verses in the Old Testament that identify certain sins as abominations. Since all sins are not identified as abominations, some sins are clearly more abominable to God than others.

Third, there are differences in consequences:

  • The consequences for adultery are going to be much different than the consequences for stealing (even though 1 Thessalonians 4:6 lists fornication as a form of theft).
  • The consequences for idolatry are going to be different than the consequences for gossip.

Fourth, common sense tells us sins aren’t the same.

No, I don’t put this reason on par with the others since it lacks scriptural support, but every time we hear, “All sins are the same” isn’t there a nagging thought in the back of our minds? Jesus said not to worry and Paul said not to be anxious. Do we really think worry and anxiousness are the same as adultery?

So how are all sins the same?

  • The Greek word for sin is hamartanō, 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 (Rom 6:23).
  • 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.

When you heard “all sins are the same,” did you believe that? How do you see sins being the same and different? Share any thoughts or questions below!

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13 thoughts on “Are all sins the same?

  1. […] people think of the “worst sins” divisiveness probably doesn’t come to mind, and this is unfortunate. Proverbs 6:16-19 lists […]

  2. […] mean well when they say all sins are the same, but the problem is they’re not! One way they’re different is certain sins are identified as an abomination. Two such […]

  3. I like what you say here – all sins miss the mark, but not all sins are the same. I’m picturing a dart board – everything that doesn’t hit the center of the dart board, misses the mark, but some are different and further from the mark so to say (have bigger consequences).

    I think you answer this here for the most part, but I would be interested in hearing more about how you answer the idea that, “TO GOD all sins are the same.” Often, I’ve heard this used in a similar context of 1) someone ending a marriage, versus 2) someone telling a lie.

    I think homosexuality is such a big deal, and a ‘hot topic’ because in this day, we are being bombarded by the idea, even within the church to a degree, that there is nothing wrong with it. Similarly, it is becoming more common place that there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage, within the church. One young person I know asked a youth leader about someone who stated they were a Christian, but was also an openly gay person, and the youth leader stated to the young person, “I don’t know, but I know we’re supposed to love.” I can’t put my finger on why that bothers me so much, but at the very least it causes a lot of confusion among young Christians in this day.

    1. Yes, we’d definitely say there’s a difference between a dart that’s toward the middle of the dart board versus one that’s a few feet from the board completely :). Sort of like a missed shot in basketball versus an airball.

      I don’t think we have to wonder if all sins are the same to God. We get to know what God thinks of sin in the Word, and I think (as I said in the article) that sins are presented/described differently from each other in Scripture.

      That’s tragic and very self-deceived if someone wanted to contrast divorce with telling a lie.

      That story bothers me too. Perhaps what’s most bothersome is that the statement was made by a youth pastor; someone who’s supposed to be a servant of the Lord and preacher of truth.

    2. I believe the person was a leader and not the youth pastor, but still confusing for the young person and typical, I believe, of what is happening in a majority of churches today.

    3. It is very sad.

      A mother wanted me to marry her son and his girlfriend. They were living together and since they called themselves Christians, I asked the mother why they were living together. The mother became upset and told me her and her husband lived together before they were married. She also said, “Our pastor never judged us like you’re doing.”

  4. Very good! I used to believe all sins were the same. It made me feel better about my own sin. But acknowledging these differences is important and helped me see how merciful my God is that he He still forgives even the worst sins with a repentance and change.

    1. Karla,
      It’s interesting that you said it made you feel better about your own sin. I remember a time I was very grieved – in a good way – about a sin I had committed. Someone trying to be helpful said, “Keep in mind all sins are the same. What you did is just like worrying.” As a result I didn’t feel as bad about my sin, and even engaged in it further in the future. Then someone else pointed me to a passage in Scripture that showed me the severity of my sin, and I could immediately tell it differed greatly from worrying.

  5. […] people think of the worst sins divisiveness probably doesn’t come to mind. This is unfortunate because some of the strongest […]

  6. This was an excellent post. Very insightful. I have felt this way for quite some time but you don’t hear it preached very often. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Mike thanks for reading my blog and thanks for the feedback!

  7. Really glad you wrote on this! When I taught junior high and high school (at a Christian school) it seemed occasionally that the students misunderstood God’s mercy because they pretty much thought He couldn’t tell the difference between someone cheating on a test and someone getting an abortion. Almost as if God “had to” forgive because “all sins were the same to Him anyway”. Its a strange misconception, maybe derived from the idea that when you witness to someone, you may point out that even if they think they are “good” their sin will lead to death?

    1. Hi Becca,
      Thanks for checking out my blog…and commenting.

      In answer to your question, my best guess is because basically the Bible talks pretty simply about sin in a number of places without differentiating. Like for example when it says the wages of sin is death. It doesn’t say one sin brings death faster than another.

      And you’re definitely right (and I considered mentioning it in my post) that because of this “all sins are the same” mentality, people are led to feel comfortable engaging in certain sins they wouldn’t otherwise because they think it’s the same as some other sin they don’t view as seriously.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please share!