Do you believe that all sin is alike to God and no sin is greater than another in his eyes?

The widely believed notion “all sin is alike” is not grounded in Scripture. All sin is bad, of course—all sin crucified Jesus. But it’s a myth that all sin is the same to God. Think of 1 Corinthians 6 and “all other sins” versus “he who sins sexually” and Proverbs where the seven deadly sins singled out, and elder qualifications with some sins that disqualify and others not mentioned.

Scripture is clear on the fact that there is greater judgment on sin that falls upon some than others. All unbelievers will stand before Christ for judgment. This judgment includes “the dead, great and small” (Rev. 20:12), and Paul says that “on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed...he will render to every man according to his works…for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom. 2:5-7).

There will be degrees of punishment. The dead were (actually, will be, but this is said in a prophetic past tense) judged “by what they had done” (Rev. 20:12, 13). This judgment requires an evaluation of the works people have done, and clearly people have done different kinds of works—not all are the same.

Jesus says, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating” (Luke 12:47-48).

Jesus says to the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, “It shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you” (Matt. 11:22; compare v. 24).

He says that the scribes “will receive the greater condemnation” (Luke 20:47).

In my mind all these passages unmistakably indicate that there will be degrees of punishment. (How else would you interpret the meaning of these verses?)

Every wrong deed done will be remembered and taken account of: “On the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter” (Matt. 12:36). Every word spoken, every deed done will be brought to light and receive judgment: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:14).

As Wayne Grudem says in Systematic Theology, on judgment day the secrets of people’s hearts will be revealed and made public. Paul speaks of the day when “God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:16; compare Luke 8:17). “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).

The old question of whether Hitler will have exactly the same judgment in Hell as your average sinner seems addressed in these passages. Of course, that is not so much a comfort, since hell is hell, but it is a vindication of God’s justice.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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