Are Some Sins Greater Than Other Sins?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Are some sins worse than other sins?   Does the Bible say that all sins are equal or that some sins are far worse than others?

What is Sin?

Sin is what is defined as breaking God’s laws.  To sin is to commit cosmic treason against the King of the Universe.  Sin is closely associated with what we call “missing the mark,” Is it like an archer whose arrow falls far short of a bull’s eye.  Hitting the bull’s eye would be perfect obedience to God’s commands.  The fact is that we all fall short of God’s standard (Rom 3:23) and there is no one that is without sin (Rom 3:10; 1 John 1:8, 10).  Only Jesus Christ the God-Man committed no sin.   Sin can be said to be in violation of one’s own conscience, but more than that, it is a deliberate attitude, thought, or action that someone knows is wrong.   Sin can also be acts of omission.  Biblically speaking, sin is the transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4).

Sins of Omission

There are sins of commission like stealing, lying, and cheating but there are also sins of omission.  That is, when someone knows that they ought to do something and don’t do it, to them it is sin.  James 4:7 says as much: “whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  Even the unsaved are guilty of not giving God what is due Him, which is to give thanks for what He has done.  What is the result of this?  Romans 1:21 says that even though they “knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  For Christians, John tells them that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 John 3:17)? These are sins of omission.  That does not excuse them in anyway because sins of omission are still sins and that is missing the mark of God’s holy standard.

Sins of Commission

Sinning deliberately and willfully is obvious even to the unsaved (Rom 1).  These sins include “all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:29-32).  Both Christians and non-believers will be held accountable for their sins of commission but at least the saved know that they will not be judged and condemned like the lost will (Rev 20:11-15) but they will suffer consequences because God, as a loving Father, disciplines every child of His ( Heb 12:5-6).

Are Some Sins Worse than Others?

Jesus said that if someone looks with lust at another they have already committed adultery or sexual immorality in their heart (5:28) but most certainly committing fornication or adultery is worse than just thinking about it because “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18) because anyone who is “joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her [or him]? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh” (1 Cor 6:16).  The fact is that lying is wrong, so is stealing, and certainly cheating is but committing adultery is worse than lusting in the heart.  Jesus also stated that hating someone is like murdering them in their heart (Matt 5:21-22) but He did not say that hating them is actually the same as murdering them, just as He didn’t directly say that lusting is just as bad as committing the actual act of adultery or fornication.  Lusting and hating can lead to adultery and murder, but thinking about it and doing it are two different things altogether.

Not all sins are equal.

Not all sins are equal.

Not all sins are equal.  I can lie to my wife and be sinning but to commit adultery is far more serious and has far greater consequences.  Read what Jesus said about differences in responsibility in Luke 12:37-38 “that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.  But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”  Is there greater and lesser sins?  Jesus told Pontius Pilate that “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11).  Jesus was saying that Pilate was less responsible than were the Jewish leaders, and even though both were responsible, it was the Jews who brought Him to Pilate.  Pilate also wanted to scourge Him and then release Him but the Jews demanded He be put to death by crucifixion.  Another reason that the Jews were more responsible is because they knew that Jesus was from God (John 3) and they had seen His miracles, making the blind to see, the lame to walk, and He even raised the dead so they were without excuse.


Even if you have lived a good life, it only takes one tiny, little sin to send someone to hell.  All sin is serious to God and is an affront to His holiness.  We are told to be holy just as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  That presents a problem because we are all sinners and we all fall short of His glory so how can we become holy just as He is holy? We need to repent (Luke 13:3, 5; Rom 10:9-13) and confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and trust in the Savior and only then will God the Father see us as having Jesus’ own righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).  Unless we are seen as holy, we will never inherit the Kingdom and God (1 Cor 6:8-11) and our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (Matt 5:20).  Again, that seems humanly impossible, but for God, is anything too hard?  The answer is no.  If a person repents, confesses their sins, pleads to God for forgiveness, and then puts their trust in the Savior, they will be saved.  There is no other way possible (Acts 4:12).  He is the One and Only Way to heaven (John 6:44).  That is where you are headed if you have repented and trusted in the Savior.  Sins can be forgiven but it is only through and by the precious blood of the Lamb of God because being sorry is not enough…without the shedding of His blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22).  Only in this way can you be made whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7).

Related reading: What is the Original Sin?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

DocReits March 31, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Pastor Jack,

One of the best synopsis of sin, its categories and degrees I have read.



Jack Wellman March 31, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Thanks brother…on our Facebook page, so many disagreed with this because they thought that sin is sin but is murder the same exact thing in essence as hate? One man said “Judge not and you shall not be judged” but unfortunately, text ripped out of context make a pretext and usually a false one! Thank you for your kind words my friend.


DocReits March 31, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Pastor Jack,

“so many disagreed with this because they thought that sin is sin”.

You already covered that point in your article by pointing out in a number of places that any sin will keep us out of heaven. In that sense, yes, sin is sin.

I wonder how contemplative these Christians are when considering the levels of sin. Do they think God’s model in the old testament about levels of punishment, depending upon the degree of the offense, which comprised so much of the Law, was done for no purpose? Was justice done away at Calvary?

Do they not see how our justice system, modeled originally upon Christian principles has different levels of punishment for different levels of crime?

It is my belief that we all, from birth, have apriori knowledge of offense(crime), punishment for sin, reward for good behavior, and justice, swinging between them.

We know at very early ages of life that if we tell a lie, we will get much less punishment than if we deliberately take a scissors to our sister’s hair. Different crimes deserve different punishments. Now, if we get the same punishment at 6 years old for telling a lie, that our brother, who is 8, got for cutting off his sister’s hair we feel aggrieved. Where does that feeling of injustice come from?

At 6 years old we have not taken any courses on jurisprudence, nor have we studied under any Rabbis for the finer points of the Law, yet we know that the punishment is unjust. We yell, “That’s what?”…Yes, “UNFAIR!!”. How do we know that it is unfair? Well IMO, it was handed down to us within our consciences by the One who made us.

We all inherited the knowledge of “Good and Evil”, from the fact that our original parents opened their eyes through disobedience and partaking of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. We were to remain innocent but Adam chose another course…

…and as a consequence our eyes have likewise been opened. The serpent was right, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”(Gen 3:5)

Here is my point…Why then, would these Christians presume that God is any different than His creation, from whom we inherited this knowledge of justice? You gave the words from Jesus Himself in speaking about the one without the full knowledge of the wrong, deserving fewer blows.

Wow, why can’t they see that we have the same knowledge of Good and Evil as God. Maybe they can’t fathom that with this knowledge comes the knowledge of Justice. For, without a knowledge of good or evil their would be no crime, for there would be no willful choosing of that which is not good.

The only way Adam chose evil, before he ate the fruit, was because God gave him a direct verbal commandment. That was an external Law, not one written on his conscience from within. That internal knowledge of Good and Evil waited for the first bite. If there was no crime there would be no punishment. Do they ever ponder such thoughts??

I am convinced we need to go back to basics in the educational system, and have courses in logic, and philosophy, as in the past. I realize that will probably not happen, and as a result, we will continue with the myriad voices of disjointed ideas.

These same voices are not only in the Church, but at the helms of our government(Congress) and educational system.

God help us all,



Jack Wellman April 1, 2014 at 10:03 am

Amen Doc. I see that you are full of wisdom and biblically sound and that is perhaps why you get it and so many do not. I truly thank God for your hunger to know the Word of God and are not in the milk stage but dining on the meat of the Word and indeed, few that I have ever known have your zeal for wisdom and biblical knowledge like you. Before I headed off to work I want to thank you brother. I think the greatest blessings are those brothers and sisters in Christ who are encouragers like you!


charlie April 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm

all sins are equal the only sin that is not is the unforgivable sin witch is blasmothy witch is making fun of the holy spirit


David April 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Hello Charlie, in one sense you are quite correct. However, as Pastor Jack quite carefully pointed out with scripture, there does appear to be degrees of sin.
One servant received less punishment than another.
1 Jn 1 vs 9 clearly says it all. And Paul in Cor states quite clearly that the wood, hay and stubble will be burned up, but we ourselves will be saved.
For those who have not given their lives to Christ, there is judgement, for those of us who have, we escape that. However, our ACTS will be judged, and we will be accountable for all we have said, thought and done.
I hope this clears some issues up.
Blessings, David Central Europe.


David April 3, 2014 at 12:16 am

BTW Pastor Jack. a sterling article.
Also good points to think about Doc.
Blessings to you both, David Central Europe


Anthony June 11, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi it Me again i Regret Every Sin i Commit The One Sin i Commit is a Sexual Sin I Know it was Wrong But I Did it Because is Felt Good But After i was Reading Numbers 15:30 I was Dreadful in Fear i Felt Lost Then i call My Pastor about this He Told Me That since i Regret it and remorseful About it God Could still Forgive me But I’m Not Sure i Want to Truly Repent and Never Do it again if I had Know Better and Knew The Scripture Better i Wouldn’t Fall to The Flesh That Easily Then i was Thinking All The Sin i Committed Before i Came to Christ Knowing it was Wrong Now i Want to Truly repent and seek Jesus I’m Sorry For all my Sexual Sin it hard Being a Young adult Do i Still Have Hope To be Good Term with God


Jack Wellman June 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Hi Anthony…to be remorseful over sin is evidence that a person is saved for the unsaved don’t care if they sin. I pray you talk with your pastor about this concern you have my friend. Have you spoken to him before?


Anthony June 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Thank i Will talk to my Pastor again i Don’t want to lose my chance To Be Saved i Will Pray To God To Give the Urges not to Sin it will be hard i thank you for Replying


Jack Wellman June 11, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I am so glad you will speak to him my friend. That is good news. In the meantime, please read this called “Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?” at this link: I think this should give you some peace of mind Anthony.


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