Do Christians Ever Need to Choose the Lesser Sin?

We Don’t Have to Choose

I’m convinced that the idea that we sometimes have to choose the lesser sin because all our choices are sinful is a dangerous and deeply harmful idea for the Christian life. I’m aware that several evangelical ethics books claim that, from time to time, we face situations of what they call “impossible moral conflict” where all our choices are sinful and we must simply choose to commit the lesser sin. I don’t see this taught in Scripture, honestly. It’s contradicted by the life of Christ.

The idea that we sometimes have to choose the lesser sin because all our choices are sinful is a dangerous and deeply harmful idea for the Christian life.

Hebrews 4 says that Christ, in every respect, has been tempted as we are, yet was without sin. So, if Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, and we’re tempted by situations where all our choices are sinful, then that means that Jesus was tempted by situations where all his choices were sinful. That means that Jesus must have sinned by disobeying God’s moral laws. That contradicts many verses in the New Testament, especially Hebrews 4:15.

People bring up the story of Rahab in Joshua 2 where she hid the Jewish spies who came to Jericho on the roof of her house and then lied about their whereabouts. Rahab is a Canaanite prostitute. She doesn’t have any training in the moral teachings of the God of Israel. It’s remarkable that she has faith and courage to protect the spies, but the Bible doesn’t condone her lie or hold her lie up as an example for us to imitate.

Christian Ethics

Christian Ethics

Wayne Grudem

Best-selling author Wayne Grudem explains in 42 thorough chapters what the Bible says about ethical questions regarding marriage, government, abortion, and dozens of other issues in this highly practical, biblically based volume on Christian ethics.

God Will Provide a Way

There are other supposed “impossible moral conflict” situations that people bring up, but sometimes those are artificial situations. I think we should realize that if we ever come to a difficult situation like that, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God will provide a “way of escape,” a way not to give into the the temptation.

This “impossible moral conflict” view easily becomes a slippery slope that encourages Christians to sin more and more. Then people lose their moral backbone and they’re encouraged, when under great pressure, to disobey God.

In short, we should listen carefully to Revelation 2:10: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”



Related Articles


Related Resources


Crossway is a not-for-profit Christian ministry that exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing gospel-centered, Bible-centered content. Learn more or donate today at crossway.org/about.