When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became the first humans to experience the consequences of sins. Since then, sin has continued to separate humanity from God both under the old and new covenants. However, the subject of sin is controversial because while some say that all sins are equal in God’s eyes, others think otherwise.
The Bible has enough evidence to suggest that not all sins are equal in God’s eyes. For instance, not all sins attract similar judgments and some sins cry out. Additionally, sin comes on different levels and with different consequences.
Reasons why sins are not equal
Not all sins have the same judgment
Scripture makes it clear that different sins attract different kinds of judgment. For instance, in the law of Moses, some sins would be atoned for by sacrificing a goat (Leviticus 4:23, 9:3, etc.) while others attracted capital punishment (e.g. Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, etc). Clearly, the law of Moses recognized that not all sins were the same. If that were the case, there would be one blanket judgment for any transgression.
And it is not just in the Old Testament – there are many illustrations in the New Testament that prove that not all sins are equal in God’s eyes. For instance, in matters of church discipline, the Bible recommends some of the issues among brethren be dealt with at a personal level. However, other issues e.g. unrepentant sin should be dealt with at the wider congregation level (Mathew 18:15-22).
Additionally, even though the Bible says to expel (excommunicate) the sinful person from the church (1 Corinthians 5), it also shows that not every kind of sinner is to be excommunicated. The church is expected to demonstrate the grace of God when dealing with Christians who are in sin (Ephesians 4:32). However, the Bible also shows that some sins should be dealt with publicly and immediately. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul is addressing the sexual sin (incest) that was rampant in the church. As Paul noted, even pagans wouldn’t condone such and such had was to be dealt with head-on.
In addition to treating sin differently, the Bible also demonstrates how different people should be handled differently. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul also demonstrates how caution should be taken when dealing with sin in the church. While he encourages for sin to be rebuked publicly, he also says that the elders should not be rebuked publicly and that it should be done in the presence of at least two witnesses.
Levels of sin
The mosaic level demonstrates that sin can be at different levels. For instance, in Leviticus 11-15, God is issuing different types of sacrifices that are required for different sins. This statute was based on the different levels of uncleanliness identified in the same scripture. For instance, the law of Moses puts a distinction between intentional and unintentional sin. According to the law of Moses, unintentional sin may be atoned for by sacrifice (Leviticus 4). However, intentional sin can be so grievous that it calls for capital punishment (Leviticus 15:30). The different approaches to atonement and judgment of sin illustrates that not all sins are equal in God’s eyes.
There are also some illustrations of levels of sin in the new testament. One of the prolific examples is in John 19:11 when Jesus responds to Pilate by saying, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” In this scripture, Jesus juxtaposes the act of Judas Iscariot and Pilate. Even though both were guilty of falsely accusing Christ, the betrayal act of Judas was clearly a greater offense.
Some sins cry out
The Bible illustrates how some sins cry out to God. When this happens, God always executes judgment on humanity. The first example of this is in Genesis 4:10 after Cain kills his brother Abel. When God appeared to Cain, he said that the blood of his brother was crying out to him, As a consequence, God descended and pronounced judgment on Cain. Another illustration of this was in Genesis 18:20 when God said the outcry of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah was too much that he released judgment over the cities. In these two examples, it is evident that other sins were being committed by other people but not all sins were crying out to God.
Scripture also speaks of “sins that cry out” that God himself will execute judgment because humans and government officials have acted unjustly towards others (e.g., Gen. 4:10; 18:20; 19:13; Ex. 3:7-10; Deut. 24:14-15). Again, not all sins are put in this category, and these sins are highlighted as more grievous than other sins.
All sin is not the same in its effect
The Bible illustrates that not all sins have the same effect. One food example is the following scripture:
“If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.” 1 John 5:16-17
This scripture insinuates that some sins may lead to severe consequences, even physical death, while others may not. In another scripture, Jesus talks about unforgivable sin.
Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28-29
From this scripture, it is clear that while some sins can be forgiven, the sin of slander against the Holy Spirit carries eternal consequences.
In summary, it is clear that even though all sins separate us from God, they do not necessarily attract the same consequences. Some sins have a huge impact on the individual as well as the community in the present age while others have eternal consequences. In other words, not all sins are equal in the eyes of God.