Billy Graham’s Answer: What is Sin? Are All Sins Equal in God’s Eyes?

By   •   March 26, 2014

Billy Graham

When once asked, ‘What is the definition of sin?’ Billy Graham gave the following answer:

A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.

The Bible actually uses a number of examples or “word pictures” to illustrate what this means. For example, it tells us that sin is like an archer who misses the target. He draws back his bow and sends the arrow on its way—but instead of hitting the bull’s-eye, it veers off course and misses the mark. The arrow may only miss it a little bit or it may miss it a great deal—but the result is the same: The arrow doesn’t land where it is supposed to.

The same is true of sin. God’s will is like the center of that target—and when we sin, we fall short of His will or miss the mark. And this is something we do every day; as the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even when we aren’t aware of it, we commit sin by the things we do (or fail to do), or by the way we think.

This is why we need Christ, for only He can forgive us all our sins, and only He can help us live the way we should. We can’t forgive ourselves, nor can we change our hearts and make ourselves better in God’s eyes.


Mr. Graham has also been asked whether all sins are equal in God’s eyes. This was his answer:

It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God. The Bible’s statement, “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23), applies to all sin, whether in thought, word, or deed.

At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people. Sins may also differ at their root.

Theologians have sought for centuries to determine what the essence of sin is. Some have chosen sensuality, others selfishness, and still others pride or unbelief. In the Old Testament, God applied different penalties to different sins, suggesting variations in the seriousness of some sins. A thief paid restitution; an occult practitioner was cut off from Israel; one who committed adultery or a homosexual act or cursed his parents was put to death (see Exodus, chapter 22 and Leviticus, chapter 20).

In the New Testament Jesus said it would be more bearable on the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum because of Capernaum’s unbelief and refusal to repent after witnessing His miracles (Matthew 11:23-24). The sins of Sodom were identified in Ezekiel 16:21 as arrogance, gluttony, indifference to the poor and needy, haughtiness, and “detestable things.”

When Jesus spoke of his second coming and judgment, he warned that among those deserving punishment some would “be beaten with many blows” and others “with few blows” (Luke 12:47-48). He also reserved His most fierce denunciations for the pride and unbelief of the religious leaders, not the sexually immoral (Matthew 23:13-36).

However, remember that whether our sins are relatively small or great, they will place us in hell apart from God’s grace. The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and the sins of the whole world at the Cross. If we will repent and turn to Jesus in faith, our sins will be forgiven, and we will receive the gift of eternal life.

Find Peace with God
The BGEA is committed to reaching the lost with the Good News that our sins can be forgiven when we make a decision for Christ. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, we invite you to find peace with God today.

Be Part of the Mission
If you are a Christ-follower with a heart for reaching people at home and around the world, we invite you to join our mission by:

– Participating in the nationwide My Hope outreach this Easter.

– Praying for the Lord to continue to use the BGEA to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ by every effective means, and to equip others to do the same.

Supporting the ministry financially as BGEA President Franklin Graham holds steadfast to our core beliefs, carrying out a big vision to reach the lost with the love of Christ.

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83 Comments

  1. Richard kipsang pargwetov says:

    God bless you and ministry known you since 1990 when you came to kenya am being blessed through your Tv preaching in Farmily Tv programme.

  2. eunice matanda says:

    All these years i have watched you preach God’s word with authority that it has inspired me to be the best i can be. Iam amazed how God can work wonders in your life if you put your heart in him. I will always be thankful for everything i have in my life especially my family whom i adore. Praise be to GOD almight.

  3. janet says:

    this is the message that all preacher should be preaching not from the news not from thier own a agenda but from the scripture Billy Graham does it best as shown here

  4. terencemadewu says:

    Your ministry have been very inspirational through out generations may the Lord continue to bless u abundantly so that u,ll always provide guidance to His children

  5. Diana Daniken says:

    So thankful for Billy Graham and Franklin for continuing to serve others.. Spreading God’s word no matter what the opposition. God Bless you.

  6. Mary Joan says:

    Thank you for your ministry all these years! You have helped me, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. God bless you! Please keep me informed of your ministry. I am grateful.

  7. Patrick Kaletsi says:

    I would like to support financially, but here is the case I don’t even have a better job to do. please Pray for so I get a good job and support this ministry financially.

  8. Alice says:

    The more I get closer to my Father I’m way beyond thankfull for him adopting me into the family. I want people to know the xtreme joy that comes from knowing Jesus. The freedom from all the garbage in our lives, the freedom that results from the Father being near everyday. Just the pure joy of Him. And knowing Him. When He comes close it takes my breath away.

  9. Francois says:

    Thank you Blessed Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ!!! Roman 8:1, “there is then No more judgment for those who are in Christ”!!!!!!! My second Birth (Spiritual birth) happened 12 June 1983!!! Hallelujah-

  10. Williams Abbah says:

    I like to know more about BGEA her activities as well as get inspiring messages from you.
    Thanks.