May 06, 2021

Are There Distinctions of Sin in Hell?

Nathan W. Bingham & R.C. Sproul
Are There Distinctions of Sin in Hell?

Every sin is an act of cosmic treason against an infinitely holy God. Does that mean that God’s judgment against every sin is exactly the same? Today, hear how R.C. Sproul once addressed the question of degrees of punishment in hell.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: This week, we go back into our conference archives when Dr. Sproul was asked the question, Are there distinctions of sin in hell?

R.C. SPROUL: I think the New Testament makes it clear. There are at least twenty-five references in the New Testament that speak of the various degrees of punishment and/or reward in heaven relative to the degrees of sinfulness of sin. Even though all sin is sin, there is still a clear distinction in the New Testament between those sins that are covered, the multitude of sins that love covers. The Roman Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sins is not something that we would uphold, but it's a distinction that we would agree with in part"that at least there is a difference between less and greater sins, and the New Testament follows that again and again.

The point that we're talking about here is that we are heaping up our sins against the day of wrath"heaping up wrath, piling it up, treasuring it up, according to the Apostle Paul. I've heard guys say: "Well, I've lusted after her. I've already committed that sin. So, I might as well go ahead and finish the action." No, no. You're just entering into a more egregious violation of that previous sin.

I once heard a psychiatrist speak a refutation of the ethics of Jesus, because Jesus said that every sin is equally heinous. The psychiatrist said, "And anybody knows better than that." And I said: "Jesus never said that every sin is equally heinous. Jesus said that every sin is real sin and violation of the character of God, and all the rest. When He says in His explanation in the Sermon on the Mount, that if you lust after a woman in your heart, He doesn't say that's as bad as actually committing adultery. But, what He is pointing out is that even if you've refrained from the actual act, that does not mean that you have been totally obedient to the commandment."

And so, Jesus expands the implications and repercussions and consequences of the commission of sin, showing that the Pharisees and their oral tradition had a simplistic understanding of the prohibitions of God. But Jesus never said that all sins were equally heinous.