When we have a relationship with Jesus, we can rest confidently knowing that God has and will forgive all of the sin that we bring to Him and ask forgiveness for from Him. After a while of having this wonderful forgiveness, we sometimes begin to forget the seriousness of sin. We begin to look at it and say “Well, everyone misses the mark and God will forgive me so it’s okay”. Sometimes we even plan it out ahead of time: “I know that I shouldn’t do ____, but if I do it, I can ask God to forgive me. Win, win.”. Romans 6 is an entire chapter devoted to the fact that we should not use forgiveness and God’s grace (willingness to give us His love and to forgive us that we don’t deserve on top of not punishing). I encourage you to read Romans 6, if it’s been a while or if you never have, before continuing on. Sometimes we begin to see sin as a regular part of life (Romans 3:23 says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”): Everyone sins and besides God will forgive me.
Taking sin lightly is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Read Matthew 5:21-30 below (all of it, don’t skim—really think about it):
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. 23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. 25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
So this passage really covers a lot! Here we go.
- You know that the 10 Commandments say murder is a sin, but when Jesus came, He added the fact that being angry with someone or having hatred in your heart is just as bad.
- This next part talks about going to the Temple to present a sacrifice. Jesus is showing us here that God is so serious about our sin that if we are even going to serve God or do something that is good and pleasing to God and we realize that we have sinned against another person, we should drop everything and go take care of that.
- I’ve heard many thoughts that boil down to “Look but don’t touch” or “It’s okay to look at the menu, just don’t order”, but this is the opposite of what we see here. God takes your thoughts very seriously, so even “just” choosing to lust is the same weight to God as actually committing adultery.
- So here is the thing that God has been reminding me of this week: Whatever it takes, be serious about sin. Now, Jesus is not suggesting that you physically injure yourself, but this verse is meant to convey the concept that whatever it takes, do it. If hanging around with certain people cause you to sin, give up those relationships. If having your laptop alone in your room provides you the opportunity to fall into temptation, stop. Regardless of what the sin is, take extreme measures to get yourself away from a situation that will cause you to sin.
- The point is that nothing is worth you sinning and being separated from God. Yes, God will forgive you, but if you choose to pursue a pattern of sin, you may decide you don’t want it. Even if God forgives you, you have placed a giant wedge between you and God and will still have the consequences for what you have done. No sin is worth it. While it may seem enticing for the timing being, realize that your relationship with God is worth taking extreme measures to give up whatever you need to get rid of.
Another passage that I was reading relates to this as well. Really read Matthew 18:1-10 as well:
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” 2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. 5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. 8 So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. 10 “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
- From this passage, you can see that God really cares about our actions and the affect they have on others. Your sin never just affects you. Consider the seriousness of the punishment that Jesus lays down here for someone who causes another to sin. Doesn’t sound like “just” sin.
- Again, Jesus emphasizes the fact that it’s better to take extreme measures to cut sin out of your life now than to allow it to be part of your life and end up separated from God.
Romans 14:12 says “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”. We will all have to answer to God for our actions and non-actions. There won’t be a comparison of the fact that I’m not as bad as this other guy. I won’t be able to say that I “almost” hit the mark or I was “just” a little bit off. God is serious about sin and therefore we must be as well.
It’s easy to allow one “little” sin that’s not too far off the mark, but as we become accustomed to allowing “little” sins, they continue to grow and lead us to being farther and farther away from God. Don’t allow anything to separate you from a right relationship with God. If you have sins in your life that God has brought to mind while you were reading this, consider what measures you need to take to separate yourself from these and be close to God. Sometimes it’s “cutting off” something in our life and we have to be willing to do it.
1 Peter 5:8 says to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”. Satan desires to draw us away from God whether it’s just making us so busy that we don’t have time for God, telling us that our sins are “little” or that God will forgive us, or even getting us to think we’ll be “good enough” for Heaven. Whatever it takes, don’t allow sin to have a foothold in your life.