I’ve often heard Christians exclaim: Sin is sin!
Isn’t this true by definition? Has anyone ever actually argued the contrary—that “Sin isn’t sin”? (And no, I’m not talking about how we masterfully “justify” our own sins to be something other than they actually are.)
What is meant, exactly, by the short, tautological phrase: Sin is sin?
Usually what is meant by “sin is sin” is “all sins are equal” or “all sins are the same.” But is this sentiment biblical? Is it even logical?
For instance, I once had a person say to me, regarding sinful thoughts and behaviors, “Thinking it is just as bad as doing it.” Presumably he had in mind Jesus’ words:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
But is committing :)adultery in one’s heart the same thing as committing adultery in one’s bed? In no sense do I believe this to be true. This is not at all Christ’s meaning.
Adultery in the imagination isn’t the same as adultery in physical reality. But neither is it a minor infraction or offense. It is a sin. Sexual sins of the body and of the mind or heart (where sins of the body originate) both merit the just wrath of our holy God; but this isn’t to suggest that they are “equal” or “the same.”
Is it a “small” sin for a man to sexually lust for a woman who is not his wife? No, this is a grave sin deserving divine judgment. (All sins are transgressions against God; therefore none of them are “small” in significance.) Thus, to recognize the real moral difference between evil thoughts and evil actions is not in any sense to minimize sins of the heart.
"Sin is sin" but not all sins are the same.
Here's a simple analogy to further demonstrate the error.
An apple is a fruit.
An orange is a fruit.
Fruit is fruit.
An apple is an orange.
The illogic is obvious.
True enough, there are no “small” sins and "sin is sin;" but using a hammer to break into a neighbor's shed is not at all the same thing as using a hammer to break into his skull. These two sins are "apples and oranges," if you will.
Clearly not all sinful acts are morally equivalent; they are evil but not equal. That there is a gradation in sins is the import of the following verses.
Matthew 11:22, “But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.”
Luke 12:47-48, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”
John 19:11, “Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.’”
Consider: According to the law of God some sins are punishable by death whereas most sins are not. Consider also: All sin is an affront to God and merits eternal damnation.
Sin is sin? Yes. All sins are equal or the same? No. Being lied to makes me very angry. Being murdered makes me very dead.