The "Little" Sins Kendall Lankford
May 14, 2018
There are no such things as little sins. Every sin is damaging to our relationship with God. But, lets just be honest, we live in a world that seeks to minimize what the Bible calls sin. I do it. We all do it. We reduce the gravity of our sin down to the point it no longer stings our soul.
We take things that are offensive to God and then reframe it in language that is more palatable to our consciences.
For instance, how many politicians or celebrities have you heard make the claim “I made a mistake” when it is discovered that they are cheating on their spouse? They do not call it, sin or adultery, they reduce it down to the level of accidental carelessness. The same word I would use to describe spilling a glass of milk or tripping on a street corner – a mistake – is the word used for intentionally planning a prolonged relationship of sexual and emotional infidelity.
These are not the same!
In the same way, sins like divorce have now been reframed as “falling out of love”, "drifting apart”, or “we just weren't a good fit”. Fornication is now seen as a momentary “slip up”. Pornography, incest, rape, and grotesque violence are all rebranded under the guise of entertainment. Homosexuality is looked at as a normative sexual expression. Lying is no longer “wrong” so long as the information communicated is sincerely held and gluttony is pacified under titles like “foodie” or activities such as “boredom eating”.
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Even sins of omission like refusing to make disciples are described as: “this is just not my gifting” or “I am not qualified for that work” instead of the outright rebellion to God’s Word that the lack thereof actually entails. (c.f. Mt. 28:18-20)
I am convinced that this behavior is a universal human condition.
Christian or not, believer or skeptic, we all long to minimize our rebellion against God.
How can I say this?
Because I want to minimize my sins too. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know intimately how the human condition works because I am very human. I detest the fact that I am a sinner and would gladly scuttle along past that point without a moments reflection. To do that, I either have to deal with how sinful I am and be brutally honest about it, or I will do what I often do and minimize, trivialize, and placate my sin.
I think it is because I want to make myself out to be the good guy. I do not want to face the fact that I have failed or that I am flawed. I do not want to admit that if I were given a million chances I would fail a million times. I do not want to be powerless. I do not want to be weak. I am a prideful, ego-centric man, and do not want to feel the weight or burden of it all. I avoid the obvious truth so I can keep my sin outside of me instead of dealing with the reality that it is in me, affecting me, and infecting me.
Like a viper that is killed by the very young she nourished within her belly, so is our relationship with God damaged by the little sins we allow to fester down inside of us. Ignoring them doesn’t actually help the situation. They still grow. Convincing ourselves we are all ok is not getting at the problem. In fact, it is only making it worse.
The longer I attempt to justify myself or make myself feel good, the deeper I will disappoint myself.
Imagine the fatalism of Sisyphus, a character in Greek Mythology, who was condemned to roll a massive boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down again for all eternity. That is like me trying to minimize my sins. I know why I do it, in order to make myself feel better and to avoid the pain of disappointment, but it leaves me stuck in a pointless cycle of futility that will never bring my soul the rest and relief it needs. The more we try to minimize our sin the more our inabilities are put on full display. For me, the simplest solution is to just admit that I am as bad as I think I am, because that is where true hope begins.
Are you serious?
Yes! Because, even though my sins do not condemn me, they are still there. I still sin. I have not yet entered into the glorious sinless reality that I long to enter one day in Christ. So, as long as I keep minimizing my sins on this side of eternity, I will minimize my need for Christ in my day to day living. The same is true for you. If you keep believing that you are basically good, you will find little need for the only one who is. But if we could all just be brutally honest, (blatantly and bluntly honest for a moment), and take a long hard look at who we really are, then we would have no other recourse but to turn and keep on turning to Christ.
When I am no longer hoping to find any goodness within me, I can finally accept that ALL goodness comes from something (or better yet someone) outside of me.
When I know I can’t, I will finally start to see that He can. When I am at the end of me I will begin to lean on Him. The best thing I can do for myself is to be honest, regardless of what the world thinks about me. I am a sinner! I am a wretch! I am not good! In fact,
I am far worse than any of you could ever know! But, He is better than I could ever dream!
Part of my own journey has been about getting over my own ego and pride so that I can be honest about who I am. I am a sinner! But that does not mean I have no hope. That does not mean I sit around and wallow in self-hatred and depression. For the first time in my life, I am totally free.
Because, when I stop seeing myself as good, I can look to the only one who is.