The Disparity and Parity of Sin
I am not that bad. Don’t preach the gospel or the Bible to me. Go to my neighbor, they are bad. This reasoning of an unbeliever implies that he is a good person on the basis that he is not doing any blatantly heinous sin.
But this is far from the truth! Man naturally compares him to another in order to soothe his conscience that he is not a bad person. However, the deceptive attempt to clear his conscience disappears when he compares himself to a holy God. Any sin, no matter how small we think it is, is sin and incurs God’s judgment. However, there is what we call the disparity of sin.
The Disparity of sin
There are different degrees or levels of sin. The difference is not what the Roman Catholic Religion teaches about mortal and venial sins in that,
Mortal Sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God… by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, though it offends and wounds it. (1)
In denying their doctrine, we must not totally reject the idea of sin’s disparity or the different degrees of sin. Not all transgressions of the law are equally heinous. For example, a child stealing candy from his friend is not the same as killing another person.
In Ezekiel 8:6,13,15, the LORD refers to the sins of the Israelites that will cause the LORD to depart from the sanctuary, but He says that the prophet will see greater abominations or things that are even more detestable.
In John 19:11, we see Pilate’s cowardice but Jesus said that …he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.
We have seen from the Scripture clearly that there is inequality with sin. The different degrees of sin mean that there are different degrees of punishment as well. However, there is what we call parity of sin.
The Parity of Sin
Every sin deserves God’s judgment. All sins are deserving of God’s wrath and curse in this life and the life to come. R.C Sproul states that “even the slightest sin is an act of cosmic treason. We fail to feel the gravity of our actions to this degree, but it is true.” (2)
So, even though that there is a disparity of sin in that there are more detestable sins, there is still parity of sin since there is no sin that won’t call God’s righteous judgment.
In Ephesians 5:6, Paul says even non-sense conversation or empty words is the reason why the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. These are the ones that make God’s eternal punishment a joke.
In Galatians 3:10, Paul highlighted that even those who rely on obeying the law but fail to fulfill it all are cursed since sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
In Matthew 25:41-43, we read that the basis for Jesus calling them accursed people, who will go into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels is not exercising generosity to those who are in need.
All sins call for God’s judgment, and we have no complaint to God if he punishes us since He is the searcher of all hearts (Lam 3:39). But we must examine and search out our ways, and return to the LORD (Lam 3:40).
No matter how big or small, sin is sin and it is worthy of God’s wrath and anger. Augustine says in weighing sins “let us not bring forward false balances to weigh what we please and as we please, according to our own opinion, saying, ‘This is heavy’; ‘This is light.’ But let us bring forward the divine balance of the Holy Scriptures.” (3)
This goes against the unnecessary distinction of mortal and venial sin. John Calvin after quoting Ezek. 18:4, 20 says,
"...all sin is mortal, because it is rebellion against the will of God, and necessarily provokes his anger; and because it is a violation of the Law, against every violation of which, without exception, the judgment of God has been pronounced. The faults of the saints are indeed venial, not, however, in their own nature, but because, through the mercy of God, they obtain pardon." (4)
So there is no sense in arrogantly comparing yourself to another. We all sinned and no one can claim to be without sin (1 John 1:8-10).
Though there are “greater sins”, it does not give us a license to continue in committing the “lesser sins” because both courts God’s righteous judgment. We do well to take heed! Do not think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience (Romans 2:4).
We still need to go back to the fact that all sinned, we are all sinners and we all need the gospel of God’s grace. The good news is Jesus came to earth. He lived perfectly and shed his blood that there may be forgiveness of sins no matter how heinous or despicable it may be. Trust in Him alone and you will be washed, cleansed from all of your sins!
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
1 The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1855
2 RC. Sproul, Are There Degrees of Sin?
3 Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists II. vi. 9 (MPL 43. 132; tr. NPNF IV. 429).
4 John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, A New Translation, by Henry Beveridge. Book 2, Chapter 8, sec. 59
Posted with permission from Bro Jeff Chavez, Deacon, Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church - HGCBC Cavite and owner/writer of the blog Herald of Grace Literature. Original blog post here.