Is Every Sin Equally Heinous?

frame stIs every sin equal in the eyes of God? John Frame answers in his new systematic—with just the kind of simple, straightforward, biblical reasoning I’ve come to expect from him:

It might seem that since all sin is of the heart, every sin is equally heinous. But Scripture does indicate that some sins are worse than others…. Some [sins] have more harmful consequences than others in this life, and so they offend God more deeply. Scripture distinguishes “greater” from “lesser” sins (Ezek. 8:6, 13ff.; Matt. 5:19; 23:23; John 19:11). The law of Moses distinguishes between “unintentional” sins (Lev. 4:2, 13, 22; 5:17) and sins committed with a “high hand” (Num. 15:27–30). In the NT, Paul tells us that some sins should lead to excommunication (1 Cor. 6), but others need not (Rom. 14:1–4). James indicates that those who teach “will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). So a sin committed by a teacher could be more serious than the same sin committed by someone who is not a teacher. ¶ [Only] one sin is “unpardonable’ (Matt. 12:31–32; Heb 6:4–6; 10:26–27; 1 John 5:16–17).

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

4 Comments

  1. Ryan on January 10, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    What are your thoughts on the unpardonable sin and its nature? How do we reconcile the unpardonable sin with Christ saying whoever comes to me I will not cast out? Is Jesus implying that someone can repent of blasphemy against the Spirit, but Christ will cast them out? Or is this a sin that results in God determining that such a person will never be granted repentance/faith, and thus, will never come to Christ?

    • Mark Ward on January 10, 2021 at 9:09 pm

      I personally think what it seems to me I’ve seen most evangelicals say to this: you interpret the unclear in the light of the clear, and we don’t know what “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is—but we do know from multiple passages all over the Bible that new covenant promises can’t be revoked. So whatever the blasphemy is, it has to be something that only unregenerated people can commit.

      • Ryan on January 11, 2021 at 4:39 pm

        I would agree, but what would we say to someone who has repented and come to faith in Christ, but maybe fears they have committed it prior to coming to faith?

        • Mark Ward on January 12, 2021 at 9:14 am

          Cast yourself on God’s mercy, I’d tell that person. Someone who shows fruit of the Spirit must not have committed this blasphemy against Him, whatever that blasphemy means.

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