What’s one small lie compared to murder? How harmful is gossip when there are thefts and robberies? How is laziness an issue next to drug abuse?
We have a really narrow mindset about sin today. We often use the consequences of sin to measure how bad something is. However, understanding the real definition of sin will help us identify it better, with a more objective and godly view. I’ll tell you three common words to describe sin, and you can judge for yourself whether there are ‘worse’ sins.
Sin: Khata (Hebrew) Hamartia (Greek)
This word straight up means to fail. More specifically to fail God. God has the highest of standards because he is holy. When we fail to meet this standard, we’re sinning. The two most important commandments require us to love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31). When we aren’t doing that, we’ve failed. Simple as that.
Transgression: Pasha (Hebrew) Paraptoma (Greek)
A transgression is like a rebellion. It’s when we choose our own way over God’s. The whole storyline of the Bible begins with people ignoring God’s instruction and rebelling against him (Genesis 3). Every day is a battle between our rebellious nature and God’s good and perfect will.
The other aspect of transgression is to trespass. This looks like the betrayal and deceit that comes so naturally to us when interacting with others. In contrast with Jesus, he was faithful and he was trustworthy. He treated everyone right, giving us the Golden Rule to understand this concept (Matt 7:12). He did the will of his Father and had integrity. His life shows us how to live in obedience to the Father.
Iniquity: Avon (Hebrew) Anomia (Greek)
The Fall tainted the way God made us in his image. It bent us out of shape and made us crooked, which is our iniquity. Our flesh is wired for turmoil and left to its own devices, it’s really messed up. This is the amazing thing about Jesus is that he took the punishment for our crooked ways. He was crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), a debt that can’t be repaid.
So the truth is, we’ve failed, we’re rebellious and we’re crooked. It’s sad when you think about it. All this wickedness should lead to death, but the gift God gave us of eternal life through Jesus makes us righteous in him despite all we’ve done.
This is why we must constantly pray and ask God to forgive our sins (Matthew 6:12). Because God has justified the sinner, not the sin. These definitions may open your eyes to how prevalent sin is in your life, it definitely has in mine. It shows anything that doesn’t meet God’s standard is an offence. No sin is worse than another, so we should treat each one the same, no matter what the world says is right or wrong.