Some Sins are Worse Than Others

In Habakkuk 1:13, Habakkuk makes the observation that the Babylonians are more wicked than the Jews. Some might chafe at such a suggestion, and accuse Habakkuk of legalism or pride. But it is not wrong to assert that some people are more sinful than others, or that some sins are worse than others. The Westminster Shorter Catechism keeps the Biblical perspective and balance on this issue:

Q83: Are all transgression of the law equally heinous?
A83: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q84: What doth every sin deserve?
A84: Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.

We could state the teaching here in two ways: “Yes, every sin deserves death, but some sins are worse than others.” OR “Yes, some sins are worse than others, but every sin deserves death.”

The Westminster Larger Catechism helpfully speaks of the “aggravations” that make some sins more heinous in the sight of God than others (I’m not listing the prooftexts; go and read the Catchism to see these):
1.  From the persons offending: if they be of riper age, greater experience or grace, eminent for profession, gifts,  place, office, guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others.
2.  From the parties offended: if immediately against God, his attributes, and worship; against Christ, and his grace; the Holy Spirit, his witness, and workings; against superiors, men of eminency, and such as we stand especially related and engaged unto; against any of the saints, particularly weak brethren, the souls of them, or any other, and the common good of all or many.
3.  From the nature and quality of the offense: if it be against the express letter of the law, break many commandments, contain in it many sins: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation: if against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, conviction of conscience, public or private admonition, censures of the church, civil punishments; and our prayers, purposes, promises, vows, covenants, and engagements to God or men: if done deliberately, wilfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, continuance, or relapsing after repentance.
4.  From circumstances of time and place: if on the Lord’s day, or other times of divine worship; or immediately before  or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy such miscarriages: if in public, or in the presence of others, who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled.

May God give us grace to avoid all sin, especially the worst, and forgive us when we disobey Him (I John 2:1-2).



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