Are there Degrees Of Sin?

Q. I do not believe God considers all sin to be the same.  I base this on the words of Jesus. He was responding to Pilate who had said, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” In John 19:11, “Jesus answered,  “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.  Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”  I realize that any sin, no matter the magnitude by our earthly standards, separates us from God.  We all need salvation through Jesus. Even so, don’t you think that Jesus’ words in John 19:11 means that God does in fact see sin in degrees?

A. Pilate was an unbeliever who didn’t have any idea who Jesus was.  He was acting in ignorance.  But the priests who handed Him over had to know they were putting the Son of God to death.  It was too obvious from their Scriptures for them not to have known.  Although the sin was the same, the culpability of the priests was greater.

At the beginning of His ministry Jesus taught that as soon as we begin thinking about sinning, we’re as guilty as if we had actually sinned.  Therefore anger can be as bad as murder, and a lustful thought can be as bad as adultery.  And finally, James 2:10 tells us he who breaks one point of the Law is as guilty as if he broke all of it. If any violation is equal to all violations there cannot be any degrees of sin.

This is why we need a Savior.  If it only takes one sin to condemn us and if thinking about sinning is as bad as actually sinning, who could ever have eternal life without Jesus?

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

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