For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. (NLT)
Are all sins equally bad in God’s sight? This text seems to suggest they are. It is not as if God keeps a hierarchy of sins. It is not as if he is severe on some sins and turns a blind eye to the others.
And yet, we can look at it another way, from the viewpoint of the immediate consequences of sin. Jesus says lust is wrong as adultery is wrong, and suggests lust can lead to adultery. But lust is not adultery. Anger is wrong as murder is wrong, and anger can lead to murder. But anger is not murder.
I can be angry and yet not be hauled before a civil law court. I can be angry and not end another person’s life. I can covet something that is not mine, but only when I unlawfully take it does the law become involved. Fare evasion may be a sin, but murdering a child is a greater sin in terms of the seriousness of the act and the consequences.
In God’s eyes, a sin is a sin is a sin. But in terms of earthly consequence, not all sins are equal. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but some sins fall a lot more short than others.