Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

Have you heard people say that all sins (i.e. wrongdoings) are the same, or equal, before God? Is this idea true?

This idea may come from Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). This statement seems to imply that every sin deserves death. It may also come from the reality that we are all, without exception, sinners in need of salvation (Rom. 3:23). Furthermore, that a person who tries to keep the Old Testament Law, and breaks just one command is guilty of breaking the whole Law, adds to this uncompromising picture (Jas 2:10; cf. Gal. 3:10).

Our society, however, recognises that murder is a much more serious offence than, say, forgetting to return a library book on time. Consequently, healthy societies punish culprits in proportion to the severity of their wrongdoing, and sometimes they even let the wrongdoer off with just a warning or reprimand.

If we can recognise a difference between the severity and consequences of various wrongdoings, certainly God can too. Is God less just or less merciful than we are?

In the Old Testament we see there are sins that God immediately dealt with and punished, but others that he seemed to overlook and ignore. Perhaps the clearest evidence that God does not regard all sin as equal, however, is this statement in 1 John 5:17: “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” John’s statement here seems to contradict a common understanding of Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23.

Since Jesus has atoned for our sins and since he has brought about the possibility for salvation, it is largely irrelevant whether all sins are equal or if only some sins lead to death. So I propose we get rid of the rather meaningless and flawed notion that all sins are equal in God’s eyes. Instead, let’s focus on the wonder and truth of his salvation freely offered to all.

All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous [or justified] freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness [or justice] in passing over sins that happened before, during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous [or just] in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous [or justified].
Romans 3:23-26 CEB (cf. Acts 13:38-39; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:9, etc.)


Footnote

The following verses also indicate that there are different degrees of sin and different kinds of sin: Matthew 11:21-22; Mark 3:28-29; Luke 12:46-48; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Peter 2:20-21.
There are also different degrees of responsibility and accountability (Luke 12:48).


Related Articles

Unbelief: The Ultimate Sin
Faith, Belief, Trust, and Salvation
All-Encompassing Faith
Articles on hell, here.

3 thoughts on “Is all sin equal in the eyes of God?

  1. With all love and respect, I do believe that you are missing the point here. I greatly support the “progressive” Christianity that includes full gender equality. I want to make that very clear. We are on the same page-usually-but not now. The purpose of the Old Testament law was NOT primarily to keep His people on the straight and narrow. A Jew or Muslim might take it that way, but a Christian, who uses the New Testament to interpret the Old (The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed) knows that the main purpose of the OT law was to prove to human beings that they could not possibly be saved by works or adherence to the law, because their sin nature made it impossible for them to keep the law. Therefore God Himself (or Herself if you prefer) had to pay that sin debt by taking on flesh and dying for our sins. The perfect, unblemished, sacrificial Lamb Of God alone could save us, as we are totally depraved as Calvin claimed and in our will was in bondage to our sin nature, as Luther claimed. The idea of God viewing one sin as worse than another has been used by the Papacy to create Purgatory and indulgences via “venial” vs. “mortal” sin, and worse, used by hate mongers to make homosexuality and abortion the main “mortal” sins and waging war under false pretenses and racking up “collateral” damage as mere “venial” sins as the price of “doing business” in the world.

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. My words were written with only the Scriptures in mind, not the words or deeds of Calvin, the papacy, or hate mongers.

      I think I made it plain that we are all in need of the salvation that is only available through Jesus. However, I still see that not all sins are treated the same in the Bible. Nevertheless, it is not something I wish to push. My words simply represent my observations rather than convictions.

      By the way, I don’t identify as a progressive Christian, and I have never called God “her”. I am an evangelical Baptist with a couple of operative spiritual gifts.

  2. I agree that not all sins are not equal. I see that sexual sins are a real issue with God in the Old. And with Jesus, anyone who messes with the children. God is extremely logical, and I think that will affect how He judges us, Christian or no.

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