You hear it all the time: “Sin is sin and no one sin is greater than another.” That kinda stuff is preached from pulpits in this present age, as if Truth! But hopefully done in ignorance. Is this really what the Bible tells us?
There are several distinct Hebrew words with unique meanings that were all translated into one English word: “SIN.” There are indeed classes of sin in the language of God. ALL sin is not equal, as many try to preach. They say things like, as we said a moment ago, “Sin is sin.” Or, “Why do you judge one man’s sin as worse than another’s?”
Well, the simple answer is, because God does. In our English translations, in the stories presented, it is clear that there are sins that are greater than others. For instance, Jesus speaking to Pontius Pilate….“Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered Me over to you has the greater sin.” -(John 19:11) In James 3:1 commands, “Let there not be many teachers among you for you know that they receive the greater condemnation.” Jesus pronounced to the cities of Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin that God’s judgment would be less severe on Sodom, Gomorrah, and Tyre than on them on the Day of Reckoning, and Jesus goes on to explain that Sodom, Gomorrah, and Tyre would have repented long ago had they witnessed the miraculous works of Christ, as these three Galilean cities had. Jesus cursed those three cities and they lie desolate to this day, along with the Temple He too cursed. Jesus again told the Pharisees and Scribes in Matthew 23:14 that they would receive greater judgment for their deeds of devouring widows houses.
Ruins of Capernaum
It is apparent by the light of scripture, that when people speak these erroneous things, that they do not, and have possibly never, read their Bible, or…. possibly are just blind to it. Yet, they speak these kinds of ignorant words in repetition of what they have heard others speak. It makes me sad. And if left unchallenged, the next generation will be even more inept with the Truth. This is the subtlety of Satan: Indoctrination by degradation!!
Ruins of Chorazin
In Hebrew, there is even more solidification for types of sin against God and different types of consequences. For example, here are a couple terms used for sin:
•the word “עָוֺן” (avone), is a word meaning “sin, punishment, or guilt.”
•the word חָטָא (cha’ta), means to miss the mark, or an unintentional sin
•and then there is פֶּשַׁע (pesha) which means to commit intentional sin or to operate in rebellion.
In our Bible, these will all be translated as the English word, “sin”, but the differences in meaning will be hidden unless the context of the text reveals the motive behind the sin. There is not an all encompassing term that lumps all transgression against God’s holiness into one group making them equal.
Ruins of Bethsaida
As lost or saved human beings, we all have committed sin in missing the mark of perfection and through our fallen nature, failed God. We lost our temper and spoke evil in anger. We told a lie. We gossiped. We disobeyed through catering to our selfish desires. But these things are not punished with the same intensity as a sin against God in which we shake our fist in His face in defiance. Often, these types can be sins, such as breaking covenant or showing disregard for His covenants, such as adultery, whether physical or spiritual. These have severe consequences. They can be in the form of open rebellion against His plan and design for mankind, such as homosexuality, incest, or beastiality. They can be flagrant, willful, rejection of God in sinning against His position as supreme God and Creator through idolatry and worshipping other gods, while knowing who He is, or willfully worshiping Satan in opposition to God, in declaration that He is your enemy and Satan is your lord. Sin is not equal and the punishments for sin are not equal. Scripture is clear that there are levels of torment in Hell. A person who lives a life of morality apart from receiving Christ will not be punished with the severity of that which a pedophile or murderer will receive. God is a just god. He rewards every man according to his deeds.