Chapter 4: Lies Women Believe About Sin
Day 2: Seeing sin for what it is.
Lie #14: “My sin isn’t really that bad.”
“Hey, at least I’m not like that person over there.”
“I may struggle sometimes, but it’s not like I’m doing what she’s doing.”
“No one’s perfect, but I’m doing pretty well. I mean, I’m not breaking the law all the time like I used to.”
Ahhh… the dreaded trap of comparison! We hate it… and we love it. Comparing ourselves with people around us is the quickest way to believe this lie, that my sin isn’t really that bad.
Let’s face it – none of us wants to think we’re bad people. But we are. That’s why we need Jesus! But sometimes we’d rather ignore our sin than deal with it. This is usually because it’s not causing us pain… yet. This ties into what we talked about last time regarding consequences of sin. So in order to avoid having to deal with our sin, we begin to compare.
First we find people to compare ourselves with who we see as worse sinners than we are. And there’s no shortage of sinners in our world! You can always find a worse sinner than you. And we’ve become experts at it. As long as we have someone else’s sin to look at, we can ignore our own. This is especially true when we see people struggling with life-dominating sin.
We also are really good at comparing ourselves with ourselves — we use our behavior before we knew Christ to validate our behavior now. What do I mean by that? I mean that we say things like, “I’m not who I was before, so I’m okay.” This is more prevalent among people who have come out of a particularly bad lifestyle to follow Christ. For example, I hear a lot of people say, “I don’t use drugs or alcohol anymore, so I’m okay.”
These two comparisons reveal another problem: we have classified sin. Something like worry or fear is barely detectable on the scale, while murder is on the top. But even then, it can go higher – a murder feels better about themselves if they didn’t molest children… right? Because one is not as bad as the other. And to a certain extent, perhaps that’s true, as there are more severe consequences of some sins. However, all sins receive an equally terrible consequences from the first: death and separation from God. Therefore, all sin is equal in its severity.
In our minds, though, we’ve made a few categories of sin and we use that scale to dictate our lives.
First, we have REALLY BAD SINS! Murder, addiction, adultery, molestation, etc. These are the “big ones.” In order to determine what goes on this list, we usually look at the law. If it’s a big deal in the eyes of our government and culture, it’s a big deal to us.
Then we have KIND OF BAD SINS. These would be things that are not terrible but not great. Perhaps things like stealing, slander, greed, pornography, cursing, sexual immorality, etc. Things that may hurt us, but don’t affect those around us very much. These are things that the world could go either way on – some are bad, some are okay. “As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else” seems to be the mantra of the world. And we pick that up.
Finally, we have ACCEPTABLE SINS. These are things we prefer to label “mistakes,” “character traits,” or “weaknesses,” rather than what they really are: sin. Fear, worry, anxiety, gossip, a sharp tongue, a critical spirit, overspending, overeating, complaining, or holding onto a grudge. The list could go on.
The problem is that ALL of these sins are a big deal to God. And we’ve not used God’s perspective for a second on how to deal with our sin – we’ve used each other and we’ve used our culture and we’ve even used our past. But God? Where does he fit in?
Sometimes he fits in when we use his world to slam others for their sin… while at the same time, we’re perfectly content indulging our own “pet sins” because they feel good and because at least we’re not breaking the law.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with, talked with, and counseled with who have felt okay about their sin simply because it’s an acceptable sin in the world. It’s most clearly seen with the ladies I work with in Lifeline because there’s not been a single one who’s come through our doors who did not, in addition to a drug or alcohol problem, have along with it a “guy problem.” And while they are in the program and learning and growing, things are good. They even take a class on relationships and dating to prepare them for godly relationships. However, I’d say that as much as 50% of ladies who leave Lifeline early do so because of a guy. And of those who finish the program, about 90% have a very bad romantic relationship within 6 months. By “very bad” I mean either abusive of just plain immoral; and ultimately, it ends up very messy.
Why is this? They took classes, were counselled, and were warned about the problems they’d face in the future. But you know what I’ve learned? They don’t think lust is a sin. They don’t think the way they think about themselves and men is a problem. Because the world says that’s how you do it. And because the world approves it, they approve of it. Until it destroys them. And for the first little while, they (and I’m sure many friends and family) think something along the lines of, “I know this probably isn’t great, but it’s not like I’m using anymore.” And so comparison with the past justifies the present and perpetuates sin in our lives – we not only validate ourselves, but those closest to us can often become hesitant to warn us because, again, “At least she’s not….”
So what’s the big deal with these sins? The big deal is God.
What makes sin a big deal is not that action itself but who it is against.
David Platt, in his book Follow Me, wrote:
Yet the penalty for sin is not determined by our measure of it. Instead, the penalty for sin is determined by the magnitude of the one sinned against. If you sin against a log, you are not very guilty. On the other hand, if you sin against a man or a woman, then you are absolutely guilty. And ultimately, if you sin against an infinitely holy and eternal God, you are infinitely guilty and worthy of eternal punishment.
When we minimize our sin, we minimize God. David continues to illustrate the point:
Azeem, an Arab follower of Jesus and a friend of mine, was talking recently with a taxi driver in his country. The driver believed that he would pay for his sin for a little while in hell, but then he would surely go to heaven after that. After all, he hadn’t done too many bad things.
So Azeem said to him, “If I slapped you in the face, what would you do to me?” The driver replied, “I would throw you out of my taxi.”
“If I went up to a random guy on the street and slapped him in the face, what would he do to me?”
“He would probably call his friends and beat you up.”
“What if I went up to a policeman and slapped him in the face? What would he do to me?”
“You would be beat up for sure, and then thrown into jail.”
“And what if I went to the king of this country and slapped him in the face? What would happen to me then?”
The driver looked at Azeem and awkwardly laughed. He told Azeem, “You would die.”
The driver got Azeem’s point and realized that he had been severely underestimating the seriousness of his sin against God.
What’s the big deal? God is the big deal. Every sin (rebellion) is against God and is treason. And treason is punishable by death. Just because someone committed more treason than you, or because you used to commit treason more frequently DOESN’T MATTER. It’s still treason. It’s still a big deal.
What would happen if, instead of comparing ourselves to ourselves, or to each other, we instead began to compare ourselves to Christ? Because for every worse sinner we can find, we can also find someone who’s holier than us – all the way up to Christ. We may say we want to be righteous and holy, but righteousness is a result of pursuing Christ, not hanging out as far away from him and as close to sin as we can.
2 Corinthians 10:12
“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
1 Peter 1:15
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
I think it’s safe to say that if we did this, if we stopped comparing ourselves to ourselves and began to aim for the center of the target by comparing ourselves to Christ, the ultimate standard of perfection, and to imitate those who are following him and growing in their relationships with him, our lives would be turned upside down and inside out. And it would be beautiful.
Because instead of looking for what we can get away with and trying to find a way to be comfortable, we will instead begin to move forward in our relationships with God, to grow, and to experience God’s grace, love and power in our lives. And it will be worth it.
But in order to do this, we must recognize that sin is a big deal. We have to “cultivate a horror of our sin.”
We have to stop looking at the other runners in the race, and begun to look at the finish line.
And as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we will be able to see sin for what it truly is.
It requires commitment. It requires effort. It requires faith.
And it results in peace, love, joy, and a closer relationship with Christ.
Key points to remember:
- There are no small sins.
- The magnitude of sin is determined by the one who is sinned against.
- All sin is treason against God.
- We must stop comparing ourselves to anyone other than Christ.
- One leak will sink a ship, and one sin will destroy a sinner.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.