Here’s a neat post by Bill Pratt over at Tough Questions Answered.
But what about the Bible? Is there support for the view that all sins are not equal in Holy Scripture? Yes, actually there is.
Let’s look at the words of Jesus. In Matt. 23:23, Jesus scolds the Pharisees for neglecting “the more important matters of the law.” If there are more important matters of the law, than there are less important matters of the law, and thus a moral law hierarchy.
In Matt. 5:19 Jesus refers to breaking the “least of these commandments,” again indicating a hierarchy.
In Matt. 22:34-40, an expert in the law asks Jesus about the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response isn’t, “Silly man! All of the laws are equal!” No, he tells him that the greatest command is to love God and the second greatest command is to love your neighbor. Clearly the man who loves his neighbor but does not love God is committing the greater sin. God comes first.
In John 19:11, Jesus tells Pilate that “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” If there is a greater sin, then there must be lesser sins.
What about the apostle Paul? He says in 1 Cor. 13:13 that the greatest virtue is love. If there is a greatest virtue, then there must be lesser virtues. Paul also tells Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:15 that Paul is the worst sinner. But if all sins are equal, then there can be no worst sinner.
In 1 John, the apostle John informs us that there is sin that leads to death, and other sins that do not lead to death. Clearly some sins are worse than others.
Bill says that part 2 of this 2 part series comes out today!
My own view of this problem is that definitely any one sin will damn you to Hell for eternity, because the standard is perfection. And since no one can be perfect, we all need to have some means of avoiding the penalty for our own sins. Now the people who don’t accept this offer of redemption are going to be on the hook for all their own sins, but they are not all going to be punished with equal severity. The duration of the punishment is the same for all, but the intensity of the punishment will vary based on the specific sins that each person committed.