"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is all Sin Equal: The Greater Sin

We often hear people say things like, "there are no big sins and little sins," or "one sin is not bigger than the other; all sin is the same." While that has a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling to it, it is not true. This type of rhetoric is frequently used by people attempting to justify themselves or someone they know. It has been used repeatedly in defense of Bishop Eddie Long. I don't know if he is guilty or not, but if he is, what he has done is especially egregious.

How many times have I read bloggers saying that what Bishop Eddie Long has allegedly done is no different than lying? Again, make no mistake about it, I am NOT saying that Bishop Long is guilty; I pray for he and his family everyday. I pray that if he is innocent that God vindicates him, and if he is not innocent that God judges him as He sees fit, not according to the secular, anti-Christian and gay activists that are bent on his demise.

I want to dispel this idea for the honest mind. The scripture is clear, not all sin is viewed the same by God. Not only is all sin not equally offensive to God, but not all sin is equally judged by God. This assertion is empty without proof, so I will begin with a plain text and go from there.

"Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." John 19:10-11 KJV

Very clearly Jesus said that Pilate committed a lesser sin than the ones who had brought Jesus to him; they committed the greater sin. The inequality of sin could not be more succinctly affirmed than this. I cannot imagine how this language could possibly be explained away.

"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." Matthew 12:31 KJV

The fact that a specific sin will not be forgiven, while all others will be forgiven, demonstrates the inequality of sin. If all sin were equal, then all sin would be forgivable. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a greater sin than all other forms of blasphemy.

Abominations were and are especially grievous to God. "Six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination to him (Proverbs 6:16)." This text is not saying that these seven sins are the only ones God hates, but that God has a special hatred for these 7 sins.

"If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." 1 John 5:16-17 KJV

The Apostle John says that there are some sins that are not unto death, and other sins that are unto death; there are sins that should be prayed for and sins that should not be prayed for. Where is the equality in that?

Not only does God view some sins with more disgust than others, He also judges some sins more harshly than He does others. This is readily manifest by the fact that not all sins in the Old Testament were punishable by death. Obviously the sins punishable by death were considered greater sins than the ones not punishable by death. Not only is this an Old Testament law concept, it is also a New Testament concept taught by Jesus.

"And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Luke 12:47-48 KJV

There are cases where many stripes are deserved and cases where few stripes are deserved. Obviously not an equality of judgment.

"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Matthew 11:21-24 KJV

It will me "more tolerable" in the day of judgement for Tyre, Sidon and Sodom than for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Whatever the day of judgement refers to is immaterial; the point made is that God will judge certain cities more severely than others.

I cannot conclude this blog without also saying that however great the sin is, God has a greater grace!


  1. We generally agree on many things, and this one may be one of them, yet I am inclined to believe that there may be too little "New Testament" context demonstrated in your short blog to conclusively demonstrate the exactitude of your point. ...I realize that you clearly said "I will begin with a plain text and go from there." What seems to suffer here is the "... go from there" part. I believe going to or from anywhere in the New Covenant requires a bit longer journey than we took together.
    It may be understood that the TWO foremost methods of illustrative teaching in the Apostolic Era, esp. in the earthbound lifetime of Jesus, was the parable, and hyperbole. As an example of hyperbole I submit this, "if your hand offend you, cut it off", as a primary example of exaggeration for the sole purpose of emphasis of a given point. In fact, we know the Scripture says, "we know that God heareth not a sinner's prayer", yet given the context, the statement was spoken in mockery of the teaching and used to illustrate what may have been exactly the opposite of the statement based upon which side of the argument one took within the specific context. Of course we know that God hears everyone's prayers, or else how could an ungodly man's prayers serve as an abomination?

  2. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." Pro. 28:9. God hears everything, yet ignores some things. . . levels of hearing? Perhaps within a given context.

    A major part of my point is we should read carefully, think long and deeply, then speak slowly with the confidence of all the facts AND potential facts in hand.
    I might add, "the wages of sin is death." All sin, no less.
    We must remember that the major difference in the old and new covenants was where the law was written, upon stone, or within hearts of flesh. The emotive expectation in the New Covenant demands a different context for obedience. One wonders why God places his law within fleshy hearts rather than spiritual hearts . . . Isn't this the era of the Spirit? Could it be that simple obedience absent from personal "buy-in" is no longer enough? Doesn't the New Covenant require an examination of the motive for deeds, a deeper look into one's own heart?We must have an emotional as well as spiritual context for our obedience. The classic keystone Scripture that stimulates argument is that of Jesus telling us that the physical act of adultery is anti-climatic to the actual sin of adultery. As the thought precedes the deed, so does the sin, therefore the debate of when exactly does one begin being adulterous ensues. Jesus never intended such a moment be clearly known, but rather that BECAUSE of the ambiguity inherent in the puzzle we become aware of ourselves to the point of provoking a deeper heart searching. We will never know the exact moment, but we must watch our hearts more closely. He makes us more uneasy so we will be more conscientious.
    How does this relate? Perhaps the real point of a sense of the differences in the degree of egregiousness of sin is not about whether some sins are worse, but whether we ought to be the more aware of the degree to which we permit ourselves to venture into the murky waters of temptation and transgression. Maybe it is about whether we have the heart of righteousness, and the conscientiousness of holiness.
    If I were to argue against your position I believe my argument would be supported firmly by the broader context of the New Covenant.
    Pilate washes his hands, but were they clean? The greater sin . . ? as the foundation withstands the greater weight of the structure so might the deeds of the Sanhedrin have borne the greater weight of responsibility for the travesty of which Pilate was playing a part. Certainly the Jewish leaders had the more zealously sought the destruction of Jesus to the point of manipulating Pilate into their scheme, yet Pilate's weakness would not go unrewarded. For his sins Pilate would face the specter of impending death no less.
    Yet . . .
    I enjoyed the article.