A lot has been going through my mind recently, especially as I have begun to fully come to terms with my addiction/idolatrous relationship to/with pornography.
In a recent post, Addiction or Idolatry?, I shared about the fact that we have so often misunderstood how addictions play into the lives of Christians, especially pastors in regard to pornography, and even others in the church who suffer from alcohol dependency, opioid dependency, and other types of substance abuse.
Many times, we erroneously classify such struggles as addictions, and we treat it as such.
I’m not one to knock Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous(NA), since AA was founded by Christians with idea that only God can heal addiction. I would wholeheartedly agree with this statement.
The issue I take, though, is that we see these things as addictions in the life of a Christian, when it reality, it should be classified as idolatry: the act of making something more important than God, and doing whatever it takes, even the risk of dragging the Name of God through the mud, to get at our idol.
This time around, I want to dig a little deeper, looking at sin in general and how we have, for lack of a better term, downplayed sin the life of the Church, the life of the believer, and in the life of the non-believer.
In a recent devotion by Henry and Richard Blackaby in their text, “Experiencing God Day by Day”, they share about the fact that in every aspect of our lives, and it has the tendency to sneak in and disguises itself.
They reference 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, which says, “And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
How true this is! Satan does anything and everything to keep us from pursuing our Holy God, and even tells us that our little sins are no big deal. The worst part is that we have the habit of labeling them as, well, bad habits, weaknesses or mistakes.
We tend to not look at sin clearly. We downplay it.
I want to look a few things, largely through the eyes of the Ten Commandments and through the eyes of Jesus Himself, and I would greatly encourage you to measure your life to the words of Jesus and the Ten Commandments and start looking at the bad habits, mistakes and weaknesses in your life as what they really are: sins.
We already discussed idolatry in Addiction or Idolatry?, so I’m going to skip over the First of the Ten Commandments. I honestly want to look at the last few of the Ten, because they are the easiest to spot in every person’s life.
Let’s look at the commandment that tells us that we are not to kill. Pretty simple, right? Did you kill anybody today? No? Then you’re good!
Let’s look at what Jesus says. “…everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:22; HCSB). The passage goes on to talk about how even calling someone a fool or a moron.
The point is that if you are angry at your brother (some translations add “for no reason”) then you guilty of having his blood on your hands, just as you would if you had actually murdered him.
What about the commandment that tells you not to commit adultery? Well, let’s look at it from two different sides. If you’re married, did you sleep with/have sex with/engage in any type of sexual activity with someone other than your spouse? No?
What if you are single? Did you sleep with/have sex with/engage in any type of sexual activity with, well, anyone? No?
Then you’re good, right?
Once again, the words of Jesus: “…everyone who looks at a woman [or a man] to lust for her [or him] has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his [or her] heart.” (Matthew 5:29). So, here’s Jesus telling us that if when we look at a member of the opposite sex with the intention of wanting to sleep with them or to even to think or think how sexy they are and to think or imagine what it would be like to have sex with them, then guess what? You have just committed adultery. You have slept with that person without ever actually doing it!
These are just a couple of examples, but I hope you get the point. Sin looks attractive, and it is sneaky. We think that just because we haven’t actually slept with someone other than our spouse (or anyone for that matter, if you’re single) and just because we haven’t actually murdered anyone, then we haven’t sinned. But sin, regardless of how you look at it, is sin.
You’re anger problem is sin. You’re porn habit is sin. Your greed is sin. Your overspending is sin (bad stewardship of what God has blessed you with) is sin. Your gluttony (overindulging in any thing in your life, whether food, sex, drink, whatever it may be) is sin.
I hate to say it, but you’re a sinner by the standards of Jesus. You might not think you are, and Satan is whispering in your ear that it is not that bad, but he’s a liar. He is trying to keep you from realizing just how sinful you really are. Don’t believe him.
To quote the Blackabys, “We can free ourselves from sin’s bondage only if we recognize it for what it is. If we call sin a ‘mistake’, a ‘bad habit’, or a ‘weakness’, we will never escape its grasp.”
We must face our sin, recognize it as sin, and call it sin if we ever wish to escape our sins. We must stop watering down sin in our lives and in the lives of others and see it for just how bad it is.