Are all sins equal in God's eyes?
This question is addressed by our Shorter Catechism. (You can find the Westminster Shorter Catechism, with Scripture proofs, here.)
Q. 83: Are all transgression of the law equally heinous?
A. 83: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
That is, there are some sins which are worse, in and of themselves, and others which are made worse by who is committing them, or the circumstances under which they are committed. In Ezekiel 8, we read of increasingly greater abominations, sins which are worse than those which came before. In Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus says cities of Israel will be judged more harshly than heathen cities of old because they ignored his teaching. We also read in John 19:11, "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." Judas the betrayer bore greater guilt than the soldiers who arrested Jesus.
But then there's this:
Q. 84: What doth every sin deserve?
A. 84: Every sin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.
"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." (Jas. 2:10) Even the most mild and slight of sins condemns us to eternal death in hell.
Q. 85: What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A. 85: To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.
Q. 86: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. 86: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Q. 87: What is repentance unto life?
A. 87: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
Thank God for the cross of Christ! As the Spirit has granted us the grace of faith and repentance, we can turn from our sins, however heinous in the eyes of God, and be forgiven them because Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice in our place. Whatever your own sins may be, I pray this faith is also yours.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.