Back in the days when I could sit in a coffee shop and talk to people, I used to talk to this old gentleman who would stop-in, for a sit-down, in the midst of errands and appointments. After a while, I discovered that he was an alcoholic but that through AA had not had a drink for 20 years. His days of drinking had cost him dearly. He said that when he drank, the old saying, “One drink was one too many, and a thousand drinks were not nearly enough,” was very true for him. It is also true of many sins, especially the sins that you are prone to. It is important to reflect on sins that we are prone to. For that reason, here are three thoughts on sin.
First, you are more prone to certain sins than others.
People who see me at day-long meetings where cookies are available will sometimes comment on my self-control. I can go a whole day without taking a single cookie. If someone makes this comment, I tell them that my self-control is probably no different than theirs. The fact is: I do not have a sweet tooth. If there were bowls of potato chips, they would see me eating potato chips all day.
My self-control evaporates when there is a bowl of potato chips in front of me. So it is with sin. I have never been drunk. I would be a fool to boast about this because I have never been tempted to get drunk. However, there are many sins for which I am very tempted. It is those sins that I really need to think and pray about so that I will not sin.
Second, for those sins to which you are especially prone, then, sinning once is once too many times and sinning a thousand times is not nearly enough.
We all know people who begin by grumbling, but over the years it is as if they become a grumble who grumbles. Or there is the person who gets angry, and somewhere along the way they become an angry, anger-driven person who is always getting angry. All sin has this power, but this power is even more frightening when we think about what a human being is.
Every human being outlives death. When you realize this, you begin to see the true horror of sin. Your anger, pride, envy, hatred, racism, selfishness, or any other sin, can become something that grows in you and defines you and consumes you more and more, world without end. If your anger-driven self repels and frightens people now, what will it do after a thousand years?
Third, it is the sin that you are prone to that reveals your heart, not the sin that you are not tempted by.
I remember talking to an elderly minister who went on an extended rant about young ministers in their twenties who look at porn. He used himself as an example of having nothing to do with porn. After a while, I pointed out to him that his own “success” might have more to do with his advanced age (with its decreased libido) than with his advanced holiness. If you are not tempted to get drunk, it is easy to look down your nose at the believer who struggles with drunkenness and falls into sin. But the sins you are not tempted by do not reveal the power of sin in your own life, and a more “spiritual” sin like pride or envy is the hardest sin of all to be aware of in your own life.
This leads me to the final point.
The sins you are prone to show your desperate need for a Saviour.
You see the sins others are prone to, but when you look at yourself you mainly look at the areas where you are not prone to sin––you need a Saviour! You have a hard time seeing your own pride, envy, and self-centredness all the while being bothered by the pride, envy, selfishness of others—you need a Saviour! You have besetting sins which can grow and consume your world without end––you need a Saviour! You are unable to put to death your besetting sins—you need a Saviour! Your victory over sin makes you proud—you need a Saviour!
Friends, I have good news to share! Consider Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He is the One who, “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in times of need.” (Hebrews 4:15b–16). Friends, please pray for me, a redeemed-by-Christ sinner who will struggle with sin till I see the Lord face-to-face.