One Sunday, I was in charge of teaching the three year olds. It was for “children’s church,” so it was during the main service, and after Sunday School, I shepherded all of them into my classroom (which took some doing). Finally, I managed to get them all into seats so that we could start the Bible lesson.
The lesson was about the day that Eve was tempted by Satan to disobey God and what that meant for us. I started telling the story, showing all of my beautiful visual aides, when suddenly, one three year old girl raised her hand. “Excuse me, what is a Satan?”
Um.. what? How do you answer that? I blinked a few times, then said some words that I hoped made sense. I thought that would be the craziest part of the lesson.
Because I made the mistake of asking what sin was. One little boy shot his hand up in the air with gusto, so I called on him.
“Well,” he said, “It’s like when you are fighting somebody and you punch them really hard and then they fall on the ground and you kick them really hard like this. And then you stab them and cut them and keep kicking them and kicking them.” (Yes, he demonstrated. Thankfully not on a friend.)
“Um, well, I guess that would be an example of a sin because God doesn’t like when we hurt people….” I said out loud. In my head I was thinking, What is wrong with this kid??
By the end of the lesson, I think we had most of the wrinkles smoothed out. The kids understood that a sin is anything that we do that doesn’t please God and that, while we do them every day, we should still try really hard to stay away from doing things like that because we want to obey God.
That’s not just true for kids.
I think as adults we know that in our head, and we have a general list of sins we try not to commit, but I think we have lost that sense of significance, of really and truly trying to honor God with our lives by thinking about every action that we do and analyzing whether, based on the Bible, it is pleasing to God. That work never stops, and as our lives change so do the places where sin pops up. The Bible says that “our adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This is serious stuff, and we don’t like to think about that.
Here are 4 sins that I see Christians (myself very much included) just kind of brushing off as unimportant or even forgetting to watch out for entirely:
- Gluttony. Gluttony simply means eating for pleasure only. It includes eating too much in general or eating too much of a certain kind of food (for me, that would be chocolate…). The Bible is pretty clear that this “eat what I want because I want it” attitude isn’t at all pleasing to God. I mean, Proverbs 23:2 says, “And put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.” That’s how serious of a problem it is! Romans 12:1 says that we are supposed to give ourselves so completely to God that we are a “living sacrifice.” Our life isn’t lived just for our pleasure, it’s supposed to be for the glory of God, and focusing so much on food doesn’t glorify Him very much.
- Covetousness. Wanting what the other guy has. Keeping up with the Joneses. This one is all over the place. I mean, commercials can get us to buy stuff with the simple strategy of making us jealous of the people on TV! Coveting is very specifically listed as a sin in the Bible in several places, including Mark 7:20-23, where it is listed with things like sexual immorality and murder…
- Gossip. It’s so easy to get trapped into this one without even realizing it, isn’t it? When we know a juicy something about somebody or have an opinion we would like to throw around, the temptation is almost irresistible. Almost. But Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Hmmm…
- Not doing good. That’s right! Not only can you fail at following God when you do bad things, but when you sit there and do absolutely nothing, you might be sinning too! James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
And I’m sure there are lots more that we miss all the time, like any bad thoughts, being lazy, etc.
The beautiful thing about all of this, though, is that even though we all fail God every day, He is gracious far, far beyond what we could ever deserve. 1 John 1:9 says,”If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s it! It’s that simple. All we have to do is confess, and we can be totally cleansed from our sin every time. Not only that, but as Christians, our sin can never take away our relationship with God. It can never keep us from Heaven because we are clothed in Jesus’s righteousness, not our sad, pathetic, sin-mucked robes.
So keep your eyes peeled for these sins, freely and quickly confess and repent when you mess up, and more than that, strive always to honor and worship God in everything you do (the first time).
What a blessed, wonderful life we would live if we would just live that way!
Share your story! How do you keep yourself following God in all aspects of your life? What was a time that God’s forgiveness seemed even more wonderful to you?