Perhaps the worst sins of all are the ones that are hard to spot because they actually look good, or, at least, don’t look as bad as others.
For example, we can sin by deliberately crossing a line. By thinking that we will just dabble with sin “a little.” We figure we spend most of the time living in the good area but have the fun of crossing the line a bit. This is called transgression.
Or we can sin by deliberately saying, “I do not care, I am going to do what I want to do even though I know it is wrong.” Such sins are so obvious that sooner or later we can see the consequences of our choices. These sinners are easier to help.
My pastor worked in Las Vegas and he says he never had anybody have difficulty there with the idea that they were sinners. They just figured they were hopelessly addicted, but they were open to hope. But then he came to Grand Rapids and, Oh boy! All the sinners who think that they are fine saying, “I thank God I am not like those real sinners.”
What are some of the difficult sins to spot?
(And thus are much more dangerous)
- Deciding for myself what is right, then doing what we think is right in our own strength, and moaning and groaning about how hard it is or taking the credit. Perhaps this is the most dangerous of all. (aka Iniquity)
- Then there are the opposite of the do-gooders: people who do not do deliberately bad things but know they should do something good and choose not to. The Bible says if you know there is good that needs to be done but you do not do it, that is sin. Another place in the Bible says if you know that people are being lead to destruction and you do not intervene, then you are guilty of their death.
- Then there are the passive-aggressives who say, “I am trying, I am trying!” Truthfully they are not. They fool everyone, including themselves, that they are going to come through, that they have a good attitude, that they can be counted on.
Then they make sure they do not do what needs to be done and instead have good excuses or blame others to cover the fact that they did not do their part. (e.g., “Well, if you had been more clear or given me more time or more help, I would have done it.”)
- Then there are codependents, like myself. We say, “Yes I am guilty of the sin of being too nice.” We think, “Is it all that bad, after all, if we are too nice?” We really believe that is the fault of the other people for taking advantage of our niceness.
The apostle Paul says, I am going to love even if the more I love you the more you hate me. That is true love, doing what is best for others not just what pleases them!
When we do not want to stir up other people and get them mad at us; when we do not want to risk rejection so we say nothing and let them go to their own destruction without intervening, this isn’t love.
This kind of “niceness” is a great sin but a difficult one to see. It is saying, “The finished work of Jesus on the cross is not enough to buy my worth. I must get everyone to like me by my own niceness, if I want to feel worthwhile!” (Ah, the blasphemy of niceness.)
- Then there is putting ourselves down (self-deprecation). It almost feels righteous. “See how humble I am. I am willing to find fault with myself, call myself worthless, hopeless, and helpless.”
Now, admitting that we are messed up is a first step toward righteous. Then we can go to God, ask for forgiveness, cleansing, and strengthening and then move on into righteousness.
I am talking about the people who just wallow in their self-contempt and then feel like they are extra humble for putting themselves down. Or the people who say, I just do not have the ability, so do not ask me to do my part.
They are like Moses claiming he could not talk when he was in fact a mighty man of words.
- Or, there is a sin of putting other people on a pedestal where we think we are doing something good by pointing out how wonderful the other person is. The pastor can talk so eloquently, other people can sing so well, and other people are good with kids. (But don’t expect me to do my part because I can’t compete).
However, in the process of putting them on a pedestal we are comparing ourselves by ourselves and among ourselves and this is unwise. And it is sin.
I have found that people who indulge in these “good-looking” sins are the hardest to reach. People whose sins do not look “all that bad” don’t feel the need to examine themselves and change. How can they get to the point of praying, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” John says that, if we say we do not sin, we lie.
What Can I Do to Escape These Sins?
I need to pause and say,
Lord help me to see myself the way you see me. Help me to quit thinking “I am not all that bad.” Help me to take the plunge into the “mess of me,” to see the whole of what needs to change and find anew the Mercy and the Grace to keep growing and changing from now til the day I die. Help me not to fight your Holy Spirit with, “What’s so wrong with…? Or I’m sure better than they are.”
“This is a faithful saying and one you should accept, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom Verle Bell is chief!”