Dumb Teaching: “All Sins are Equal”

It’s not uncommon for Christians to say things like: “his sins are just as bad as everyone else’s” or “my sin is just as bad as yours.” It seems like the right and humble thing to say, and I think they say it because of verses like James 2:10 where it says that if you break the law in one part you break it all.

But let’s get this straight – there are sins that are worse than others. There are “weightier matters of the law.” Jesus said to the Pharisees, “…you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23 ESV). In other words, it’s better to show faithfulness in marriage, for example, than to donate those herbs; it’s worse to oppress the poor than to to keep back some teaspoons of basil to use in your casserole.

Consequences alone show that some sins are worse than others. Yes, Jesus said lust is on par with adultery and anger is on par with murder (Matthew 5:21-28). But no, lust isn’t actually extra-marital sex and anger isn’t actually taking a life. Related? yes. From the same attitude of heart? Yes. Equally severe in consequence? Nope.

So what was James getting at when he said if you break one point of the law you break it all (2:10)? It means that even the smallest offense against God makes you guilty under God’s law. One breach in the law and you’re heading straight towards the wrath of God. One breach in the dam and the river is on top of you.

In that regard we are all guilty. We are all unfit. We are all law-breakers. We all need the mercy of God. We all need the unmerited grace of God found the righteous-making, wrath-removing death and resurrection of Jesus. And that’s available today if you turn to him.


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