This week we have been fact-checking Christian statements about sin. In part 3 yesterday we looked at the phrase “all sins are the same.” Today we’re investigating its opposite: sins are different. There is an important sense in which sins are very, very different, and they are not the same. In part 3, we saw how this statement is true in the claim the person made when they said that they are not a sinner because they haven’t committed murder or rape. They are correct that there is a major difference between, say, shoplifting on the minor end, and human trafficking on the major end.
As I already said in part 3, sins are equal in God’s eyes only in the sense that all humans are sinners. But God’s word also gives evidence that all sins are not equal. There is no doubt that some sins have much more devastating consequences, and are thus treated much more seriously by God.
Look at 1 Corinthians 6, for example, in verses 9-11 where Paul is talking about the equality of many sins. He lists out a whole bunch of sins saying that they are equal in the sense that people who are engulfed in these sins cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. But look at his flow of thought as it continues in verses 15-20. There he singles out one sin in particular and shows how deeply damaging it is to a person: the sin of sexual immorality. He says in verse 18, that all other sins are committed outside the body, whereas sexual sins are against one’s own body! What is so egregious about sexual sin is that a Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Paul is saying, therefore, that sexual immorality is not the same as other sins! But hear me, he is not saying that sexual immorality is the worst possible sin. He is simply saying that it is different and should be seen that way, as it affects a person deep within. How many of us have seen sexual immorality wreak havoc on people and relationships? There is such a better way! The way of Jesus. That’s exactly what we saw last week when the writer of Hebrews quoted Deuteronomy 31:6 in Hebrews 13. He said that Christians should be committed to keeping the marriage bed pure.
That means that sexual expression should be between a man and a woman within the confines of marriage only. When you are married, Christians are not to have sex with people other than your spouse. Before you are married, you are not to have sex at all. Why? Because it is an intimate gift and when handled outside of a marriage commitment it hurts, it damages and can cause lasting effects. God of course can forgive, but there are always effects to sin. He wants the best for you, so he sets up guidelines for that purpose. You can follow that standard for disciples of Jesus because God says that he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Why am I saying this? Not to elevate sexual immorality as some super special category of sin. No. I am bringing it up because in the Bible we see that sexual immorality is not the same as other sins. Think about the damage that sin does. This is why Paul makes a big deal about sexual immorality, it does damage in relationships. There are other sins that do massive damage as well. Obviously, murder. It is right for Christians to view murder as altogether different from other sins because murder is the taking of a life. This is but one example of many.
Another is when Jesus taught, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” He was pretty serious about protecting children.
So sins are all equal? Or sins are different? Both are true. While we all have equal sin in God’s eyes, there are sins that are way worse than others in God’s eyes. All are forgivable. Redemption is possible in everything. He can teach us through it all. Some sins, just by their nature, have more effects, more ripples on more people and on His temple, our bodies, on his body, the church, and on his creation.