My whole life I have heard people say that in the sight of God, all sins are the same. However, I have not found this same sentiment in Scripture.
While we are all the same in many ways, different sins have different kinds of consequences to both man and God. But first, here's where we are all the same:
We all have the same great need.
The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Meaning, we are all in the same place, being great sinners in need of a great Savior (see Isaiah 53:6). None of us can hold it over another that we are "better" or more spiritual, because were it not for Christ, we would be completely lost. We are all dead in our sins (no matter what kind of sins they are) before Christ raised us to be alive with him, when we put our trust in him (see Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:5; Romans 5:6).
Our sins of all kinds disqualify all of us from union and peace with a holy God, yes. Were it not for Christ giving his life, we would have no hope (see Ephesians 2:12).
We cannot overestimate the slightest sin in God's eyes. To you and me, people are mostly good and worthy, but in the sight of a holy, perfect, blameless Creator, we are all more deeply flawed than we would ever realize, and yet we are more dearly loved by God than we could ever imagine.
Even Christians cannot look down on non-Christians, because it is Christ's work for us, and we are never to boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We all have the same great hope.
No matter how terrible our sins might seem in our own eyes, when we lay them at the foot of the cross, and put our trust in Christ, we find forgiveness. The power of Christ's sacrifice is more powerful than any sin imaginable.
God loves each of us so much that he gave everything in his Son that we might be reconciled to Him (see 2 Cor. 5:18).
But Scripture actually does differentiate different kinds of sin.
Statements like, "don't judge others because they sin differently than you" can be potentially harmful and unbiblical.
We are told not to judge non-Christians at all, in the first place (see Matthew 7:1). But Scripture tells us guide Christians away from sin, even if it is different than what we struggle with (see 1 Corinthians 5:12).
Here are six areas of Scripture that deal with different kinds of sin:
A. Struggling with sin vs. living in sin
When we come to Christ, we die to sin - we cannot live in it any longer (Romans 6:2). There is a difference between struggling with sin, and living willfully and comfortably in sin, without seeing a need for repentance.
Galatians 5:19-21 tells us that for "those who live like this" - living in sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, drunkenness, orgies and similar manners, "will not inherit the kingdom of God." This is a strong statement. It does not mean someone struggles with sin, but has given themselves over. When you come to Christ, you must turn from your sin.
If you are living in any of these sins, Scripture encourages us, "If we confess of our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Confess your sins to God. Don't let any sin go unconfessed and un-repented of.
B. Some sins lead to death, some sins do not lead to death:
1 John 5:16 mentions that some sins "lead to death" and some sins "do not lead to death."
This is a surprising statement, and is not often shared in Protestant circles (of which I am part).
But we shouldn't neglect to see that some sins are more grievous in their consequences on our own lives, the lives of others around us, and even as this Scripture shows - to the heart of God.
C. God especially hates six or seven sins:
Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."
D. Christians are called to judge some people:
This might shock some people, but the Bible actually tells us to judge some people!
While we are not called to judge people outside the church (Matthew 7:1), 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us there is a place for warning, challenging and urging fellow Christians away from a lifestyle of sin.
We are called to warn, urge, encourage, help and patiently work to point other Christians away from sin, and towards God (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14). We are called to inspire other Christians to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
With this said, we have to be careful of judging other people, because we ourselves all "stumble in many ways" (James 4:2), but there is a place for warning, urging, exhorting, and lovingly and graciously calling people to freedom in Christ!
E. Different sins have different consequences:
While any sin separates us from a holy God, there are clearly different consequences to different sins here on earth.
If you gossip about someone, you are sinning, and may ruin a friendship, but if you have an extra-marital affair, much more, and much deeper emotional, spiritual and physical damage is done to many more relationships.
Driving past the speed limit clearly has less spiritual, relational, physical and emotional consequences than a mass murderer, taking innocent lives.
Scripture even speaks of different consequences to different sins, saying in 1 Corinthians 6:18, "All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." The effects of sexual sin are different, and more harmful to us personally than other sins.
It says of having sex promiscuously, "Do you not know he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."
What does all this mean? Sexual sin has greater consequences on our own body, and if someone unites themselves in sexual relations, there are deeper things happening than just the physical.
Jesus also taught that causes a little child to stumble is especially grievous, and it would be better for those who cause children to sin to have a millstone around their neck and be thrown into the sea (see Mark 9:42). Scripture does not speak like this when relating to other kinds of sins.
F. Even if we committed no other sin:
DL Moody has rightly said that, "The greatest sin of all is not believing in the Way God has made for us in Jesus."
Even if we committed no other sin, all that is needed is to trample the grace of God underfoot, and remain in our condemnation by unbelief (see John 3:18; 1 John 2:23).
No matter the sins we have committed, God is for us, and has given everything in his Son Jesus on the cross to cover our sins. He is wooing us to come to Him and find forgiveness of all our sins.
When we come to Jesus in faith, all our sins are wiped clean, we are washed white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), and our sins are obliterated and forever forgotten by God (Psalms 103:12).