As unified as our theology and Bible professors are against this popular idea, our culture assumes it. Yesterday in my biblical theology class, we were trying to tease out the true from the false in this popular sentiment.
What is true?
- Before we come to Christ, you might say that all sins put us in need of Christ's atonement. "All sin is sin" in the sense that "all have sinned and lack the glory of God."
- James 2:10: "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." This verse might be the closest biblical statement to the popular sentiment. James' point is that "not killing" doesn't excuse you from "committing adultery." God expects us to keep the whole (moral) law, not just part of it. And yes, James thinks it is possible to do so.
- We are not to judge others or to think ourselves more spiritual than others. We can't pump ourselves up by saying, "My sins aren't as bad as yours."
- It's true that Matthew 5 makes the intention to kill a sin, not only the act of killing.
- I can understand how someone with a weak sense of eternal security might apply the first idea above to the time after coming to Christ. If I am eternally secure no matter what I do, then you might say, "All sin is sin." But of course the Bible doesn't teach this, and those with a deep sense of eternal security would question your salvation if you became a serial killer.
- The NT certainly distinguishes between the seriousness of sins. Paul chastises the Corinthians for many sins, but he only delivers one of them over to Satan in 1 Corinthians 5.
- 1 John 5 even distinguishes between sins that lead to death and sins that don't lead to death.
- If you understand sin in terms of intentionality, which the NT does, then the intensity of the sin relates to the intentionality of the sin. If I forget Valentines Day, I have sinned against my wife. But I can think of much worse ways to sin against my wife than that. In the same way, apostasy to where you burn Christians at the stake is surely a more serious sin than forgetting to pray one day.
- Historically, Christians have always distinguished intensity of sins. This recent, "All sin is sin" fad is in fact a recent fad.