Are some sins worse than others, or are all sins the same?
By John W. Milor
††††††††††† Are some sins worse than others, or are all sins the same?
††††††††††† I think it should be obvious that some sins are worse than others. This is common sense! Simply looking at the consequences of different sins should make this clear. The consequences of j-walking are usually non-existent, whereas the consequences of murder add up to a great deal of pain and suffering for the victims involved, and the perpetrator must serve jail time or even the death penalty in some states.
††††††††††† The Old Testament goes into great detail explaining the different punishments for various sins. For example, if someone commits murder by accident, (which today we call involuntary manslaughter), God established cities of refuge for the perpetrator to flee to. But if murder was committed intentionally, (homicide), then the law demanded the death penalty (Exodus 31:14-16). There is a litany of such laws and their corresponding degrees of punishments listed in the Old Testament.
††††††††††† There is a differentiation between the severities of sins that is also pointed out in the New Testament. In 1 John 5:16, for example, John states that some sins lead to death while others do not. Without expounding into great depth about what this means, one can at least surmise that some sins result in worse consequences than others; hence, some sins are worse than others. This is common sense.
††††††††††† 1 John 5:16
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life--to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.
††††††††††† To further illustrate the point, Jesus also pointed out in Matthew 12:31-32, that there is a particular sin, blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which is unpardonable. Exactly how does one blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? First of all, the act must be bad enough to prevent someone from going to heaven, because I donít think there are any saints in heaven that are completely at odds with God over an unpardonable sin. Being saved, after all, is defined as being saved from the consequences of oneís sins. Salvation is a product of Godís forgiveness, and I would find it highly illogical for God to save someone from sins He refused to forgive. Therefore blasphemy against the Holy Ghost must entail a flat out conscientious, knowledgeable, willful and persistent rejection of God.
††††††††††† Matthew 12:31-32
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven
him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him,
neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
††††††††††† The context of Jesusí statement about blasphemy against the Holy Ghost gives an indication as to what this sin entails. Jesus just finished casting a demon out of someone, and the Pharisees accused Him of being empowered by Satan when he did this. I suspect there were some Pharisees there that knew very well that Jesus was the Messiah. If anyone knew all the scriptures about the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, they did. They had the knowledge, saw all the signs, and dedicated their lives to identifying the works of God as contrasted with the works of Satan. Jesus fit the mold of the Messiah to the letter. In a sense, they had a higher degree of accountability with what they knew. But what were they doing with that knowledge? They were consciously, knowledgably, willfully and persistently rejecting Jesus, the Son of God, and declaring against what they knew in their hearts was the work of God, and calling it the work of Satan. They did this primarily out of jealousy and a litany of other selfish motives, but the point Iím getting at is some of them probably knew full well that Jesus was the Messiah. That is why Jesus warned them about the unpardonable sin. At that moment, He said He was willing to forgive them for rejecting Him, but if the Holy Spirit reached into their hearts revealed the TRUTH to them, and convicted them of their sins, and they rejected that truth, then their rejection would result in eternal damnation.
I actually think the unpardonable sin is almost never committed. Most people donít have enough knowledge about God in order to reject Him after knowing for certain in their hearts that He is the way, the truth, and the life. The Bible may give us an example of someone who will probably commit this unpardonable sin in the future, however. In Revelation 13:5-6, we read that the Antichrist will probably commit the unpardonable sin.
††††††††††† Revelation 13:5-6
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and
power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth
in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that
dwell in heaven.
††††††††††† The above scripture states that the Antichrist will blasphemy against God, but which member of the Trinity of God is not specified. I personally suspect is blasphemy will be against the entire Trinity, because it will be in his nature to do so.
††††††††††† Concerning sins and their consequences, they are defined in scripture as laws that are broken, and they are cut and dry. They strive for fairness and equality, just as it states in the famous Old Testament quote, ďand eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.Ē But does this mode of thinking apply to us today? In some respects, it does. Concerning human government, many strait-forward laws are in effect, and they attempt to make society as fair and safe as possible, while still remaining a free society.
††††††††††† But, while human governments rely on laws in order to achieve a free and safe society, laws fall drastically short when it comes to reaching the pentacle of utopia. Striving to be fair rules out forgiveness, and it doesnít leave much room for repentance, or as one might put it in todayís legalese, true rehabilitation. Those who serve jail time for the crimes they commit are rarely rehabilitated, so what good is their penalty? Iím not saying that criminals shouldnít be punished. Iím only pointing out that in most cases, convicts doing their time in prison only end up learning how to commit future crimes with more cunning than before, so once theyíre released, they have a new resolve to commit more crimes because they have more confidence that they wonít get caught.
Furthermore, seeing that laws fall short even in human government, they fall short even worse in the government of Godís kingdom. In heaven, the ultimate utopian society, failing to achieve absolute perfection is a crime. Christians are bound to uphold the laws of civil government, as it states in 1 Peter 2:13-14, so those who fail to uphold the laws on Earth, at least when those laws donít conflict with scripture as the higher authority, they are guilty of sinning. God doesnít allow sinners to waltz around in heaven doing whatever they want. In order to make heaven a place completely free of sin, all sinners must be kept out. Therefore everyone who has ever j-walked is not worthy of going to heaven. That only leaves one other place to go.
1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
††††††††††† In retrospect, while murder is clearly a worse sin than j-walking, both actions are still sins that result in the same ultimate punishment; not going to heaven. The New Testament sums this point up in James 2:10.
††††††††††† James 2:10
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
††††††††††† So, reiterating the original question that began this quandary, are some sins worse than others, or are all sins the same? I answer saying yes, some sins are obviously worse than others, but in the end, will it matter? Perhaps one day in the distant future, there will be some sinner who after spending ten billion years of burning in hell, comes to the grand conclusion that his sins werenít as bad as the person burning next to him. The guy next to him probably has about five or six more sin points than he does. Maybe it will matter to the sinner who is slightly more righteous, but Iíd rather not put myself in that circumstance.
††††††††††† Thankfully, for those who have accepted the revelation of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are not bound by the harsh reality of the law. They know they are guilty before God, for j-walking or even lesser offenses, but almost always worse offenses, even unforgivable acts in many peopleís opinions. But Jesus is the righteous judge, and He took our sins on the cross and crucified them there. He earned the right to forgive us, and if He forgives us, then we are FREE in our spirits indeed, in spite of the judgments we may endure from the world. He forgives us if we ask Him to, and He is no respecter of persons. The only requirement for His forgiveness is the admission of guilt, and an acknowledgement of needing Him, both of which require at least a hope that He exists, in order to be counted as faith. Thatís all.
When we get to heaven, will we still be allowed to sin? This is a good question, which deserves another article, but I probably wonít write it, because I donít know the answer right off hand. I know scripture states that God will perfect the work that He has started in us, and that we will undergo a dramatic transformation between our life on Earth and our entrance into heaven. As far as the logistical details are involved concerning these scriptures, however, Iím somewhat at a loss. But I do know God will take care of these details, so thereís no need to worry about them.
In any case, if you have read this article and would rather not find yourself in a terrible place someday debating whether your sins are worse than your neighbors, please consider inviting Jesus into your life, and initiate a dialogue with Him. Heís waiting for you. He doesnít want to send you to hell anymore than you want to go.