Q: “Are there degrees of sin and judgments?”
A: As far as what I have concluded from Scripture, the answer is yes. Sin is known as offenses, transgression, and iniquity. Sin clearly offends God and transgression has to do with breaking the Law or covenant, and iniquity is moral deviation that proves to be treacherous towards God. We know that all have sinned, and the wages of those sins is spiritual death (Romans 3:23). However, John tells us this in 1 John 5:16-17, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.”
I am sure there are different explanations of these Scriptures in 1 John, but there is one that could possibly apply that seems to make sense to me. Some believe this refers to physical death that is brought on by sin such as in the case of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu in Numbers 10:1-2 because of offering strange fire, and Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Upon sinning, most of us do not experience a physical death, but it is clear that there are sins done by certain individuals who knew better but are putting God to a foolish test which can result in quick retribution on His part as a visible warning to others.
Psalms 7:11 tells us that the Lord is angry at the wicked every day, and it is clear that all sin must be dealt with to satisfy a holy God and His Law, and for this reason God sent His Son to address sin. However, when I study Scriptures, God has a certain attitude towards certain sins. For example, there are seven sins He hates according to Proverbs 6:16-19 and some sins, especially coming into unholy agreement with idols, inappropriate practices, partaking of unclean things and sexual sins, that He calls abominations (Leviticus 11; 18, note 25; 20:13). I looked up the word, “abomination,” and it means something He loathes, and when you consider the judgement associated with abominations it comes down to the land spewing the people out of it. When it comes to heretical religious leaders and self-serving shepherds who lead God’s sheep into destruction, there is a greater damnation awaiting them (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).
“Damnation” in this text points to crime that results in the judge and court taking vengeance against the offender. Such damnation points to irreversible consequences leveled at offenses committed against the innocent and vulnerable, as well as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Mark 3:29).
It is important to keep in mind judgment is about separation, as in the case of separating the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25:32-33. When you consider the judgment brought against Judah by Babylon, you will see there are three different separations taking place. There is the separation of the remnant where they were delivered into captivity to preserve them, the judgment of chastisement where others were purged to spare them of tasting His ultimate judgment of complete separation, and then those left were separated to taste God’s wrath.
I believe there are degrees of sin and judgments because God is righteous and I also believe, based on my studying of this subject, that the extent of the judgment is not based on actions alone, but also on attitudes behind the actions.
The more I study the Word to know a matter, the more I realize I don’t know, and that I must hold my conclusions lightly. Granted, there are some things I know and a few things I somewhat understand, but as God’s Word opens up more and more, I begin to realize how eternal and beyond complete comprehension it is for mere man with his limited understanding to really capture it in its entirety.