Are there different levels or degrees of sin?

by Matt Slick

Yes, there are different degrees of sin. Jesus said in John 19:11, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” The context is that Judas had betrayed Jesus, and so our Lord was before Pilate who said that he had the authority to crucify Jesus. Jesus said that the one who had delivered him into Pilate's hands had the greater sin. 

There are other verses that imply different degrees of sin.  Please consider the following:

  • Luke 7:41-43, “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
  • Luke 10:11-13, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes."
  • Luke 12:47-48, "And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

As you can see, Jesus taught that there are degrees of sin. But all sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2), and the wages of sin is death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). Christians should want to turn from sin and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must understand that as there are differences in the degrees of sin, there are also differences in the degrees of the effects of sin and the punishments that will come to those who are not redeemed (Luke 12:47-48). As Christians, the severity of our sin can have different effects on us, and even though we are forgiven the effects of our sin in this world are readily known.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.