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One sin can cost you more than you ever thought possible. Here’s how to identify these sins and wipe them out of your life.
For two years in college, I lived in a house that was old. I mean really old. It was a two-story brick house that sat in the middle of one of our city’s historical districts. Constructed a hundred years ago, this house had seen a lot over the times.
When it was built, it was a bed and breakfast. Some time later, it was purchased by a sorority and used as a sorority house. After that, it was bought by an elderly couple and rented out to various tenants.
My roommates and I were among those tenants.
Now, one thing we quickly came to notice was that this house had no insulation. I literally think that the only thing separating us from the outdoors was two sheets of wood and some drywall.
Whatever insulation it once had must have turned to dust decades beforehand.
To add insult to injury, our old windows were drafty. In the middle of winter, you could hold your hands two feet away from the windows and feel the icy chill on your skin.
In the Midwest, that’s INSANE.
The furnace ran non-stop during the winters. The air conditioner ran non-stop during the summers. During my senior year, we had a cold snap so severe that the high temperature didn’t get above 0 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s about -18 Celsius) for a couple days on end.
We shut all the blinds, closed off the unused rooms, and turned the thermostat down to 68 degrees.
The heater never stopped running.
It was the same deal in the summer. When the temperature hit 95 degrees and the humidity was unbearable, the air conditioner would run constantly just to keep the inside of the house at 75 or 76 degrees.
Naturally, the electric bills that came as a result of all this were insane. Split evenly four ways, my roommates and I would often pay $120 a piece… just for utilities.
At this point, you might be asking me: what does all this have to do with resisting temptation?
I’ll tell you: because one sin – just one – is like a house with drafty windows. It might seem relatively small or even innocent, but just a single drafty window can make it nearly impossible to keep a house warm or cool.
Listen to what the late pastor Bob Jennings had to say about this (you will really want to see this – the video is only about 1 minute long):
His question is so, so relevant. What is this one sin costing you?
If you had a leaky faucet, this one leak could result in thousands of gallons of wasted water. Now, few of us would leave the faucet running all night long. Yet if the leak is slow and hardly noticeable from day to day, one might be tempted to just ignore it.
But to ignore it would cost you.
It’s the same with sin. Just one sin – a regular, recurring sin – is like a leaky faucet or a drafty window. It may be hard to pin down. It may occur so frequently that it blends into the background noise of everyday life. Yet it is that one sin which can cost you so, so much.
Look at what the Scripture has to say about this:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2 [ESV]
I want us to all pay close attention to the wording here. It says, “…lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…”
In this verse is an acknowledgement that sin is clever. It’s conniving and sticky. Think about what would happen if you jumped into a puddle of mud. When you get up, you’ll be covered in the mud. It will take more than a few wipes to get rid of this filth, since it clings to you.
Sin does the same thing. It can stick to you like fresh mud.
One sin is also like a weight. It slows you down and robs you of your spiritual energy. One sin gets in the way of your fellowship with God. It is something that saps your vitality and your vigor. It throws up roadblocks in your race as a Christian.
If you went to run a marathon – a hulking, 26.2 mile race – the last thing you would want is to add more weight to yourself. It’s already tough enough to run that distance. But to add a heavy shirt? Heavy shoes? A backpack?
These things make it far harder, if not nearly impossible.
Hebrews is telling us that – if we do have these sins in our lives – they’re like weights. They’re drafty windows. They’re leaky faucets.
They cost us.
Perhaps the reason why you’re not feeling close to God is because you are entertaining a sin. You’re playing with a sin. You have it in mind that, ‘I can have this one thing in my life. I am good in every other area of life. God won’t mind if I have this one lapse, this one “guilty pleasure.”‘
Why do I say this? Because I myself have done the same thing countless times with a huge number of sins. For every finger I may point, I have three pointing back at me.
Quite simply, there is no such thing as a sin without consequences. Even as believers, as saved men and women in Christ, we cannot sin and expect to escape it without any consequences. True, we’re saved from separation with God. We’re guaranteed eternity in paradise with Him. But the law of sewing and reaping is very much active in this life, whether we’re a child of God or not.
Sin has consequences.
If you sin, its negative effects WILL show up somewhere in your life. Those consequences may be small, they may be delayed, or we may not be able to see them directly, but they will be there.
So what is the solution? What do we do about this?
The first thing to do is to take an “audit” of your life.
What is that one sin (or sins) that you keep committing over and over again? What are you allowing in your life that you know you shouldn’t be?
Maybe you’re prone to laziness. Maybe you use foul language. Maybe you’re given to anger. Maybe you idolize something.
Here’s a HUGE one, especially for young people: maybe you lust. Maybe you love to look at others and dwell on how attractive they are.
If this lustful desire is taken further, it leads to pornography addiction. It leads to the acting upon wrongful sexual impulses. This road of sexual addiction can take some people so far that they actually act out upon their urges in a way that is against the law.
Whatever your sin(s) may be, you need to be very intentional about identifying them. Sit down with God; ask Him in prayer to reveal the areas of your life where sin clings to you. He will reveal them, because it is His will (according to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) that you would be pure and grow more and more holy in Him.
Secondly, you need to take steps to resist these sins.
One of the more lurid passages of the Bible is found in Matthew 5:29:“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.“
Truly, this is strong language. Jesus Himself spoke those words. What did He mean by them?
The general principle at work here is this: sin is bad, and we should be doing everything in our power to resist it. Contemporary Christianity has largely removed the idea that we need to struggle in our walks with God. To struggle and wrestle sounds foreign to many of us.
Hasn’t Jesus paid it all? Don’t we just need to abide in Him, and He will give us abundant life? Yes and yes.
But there’s also a very real sense in which we have to struggle in our faith. There is work to be done. The Christian life is like running a long race, and that takes a great deal of effort.
Part of that effort is resisting sin.
But notice what Jesus prescribes here: if your right eye causes you to sin, throw it out. We could easily make our own statements that follow this pattern:
If your phone causes you to sin, throw it out.
If your car causes you to sin, stop driving it.
If your TV tempts you, get rid of it.
Essentially, Jesus is calling us to be radical in our dealings with sin. If something causes us to stumble – alcohol, technology, internet, going to a certain establishment, etc. – then we ought to remove it. As Hebrews 12 says, we need to “Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.”
In other news, if something causes you to sin, get rid of it. Throw it away. Be radical. Yes, it may sound like overkill. It might even sound foolish. But it is totally worth it! The pleasure you may gain from indulging in sin is no match for the abundant life you will gain by obeying Christ. The Christian life is one of radical counter-culturalism.
It always has – and always will – go against the grain of what society says is normal and natural.
Thirdly, we need to keep in constant fellowship with God and with others.
Out of Hebrews 10, we read:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:24-25 [ESV]
From this, we can clearly see the necessity of keeping in fellowship. In fact, the text tells us that we should not only not neglect meeting together, but that we ought to encourage one another and stir one another up to good works.
In a practical sense, this looks like accountability. When we go into fellowship with one another, it ought to be with the intention of encouraging one another to do good works. It ought to be intended to help one another to resist sin and to cut the old, bad things out of our lives.
The Christian life cannot be lived alone. As the saying goes, “There is no such thing as a lone wolf Christian.”
You see, you cannot expect to try to fight sin on your own power and succeed. You aren’t strong enough. You don’t have the power. If you try to fight in your own strength, you’ll fail – whether sooner or later.
But if you tap into the power of God, if you come to Him with your hands open, you will find success. The resisting of sin requires constant communion with Him and with others. It requires community and relationship.
If you’re not already, you should find a strong, Bible-believing fellowship and then become involved there with people who can encourage you directly in your fight against sin. If you are fighting a long-standing sin, the worst thing you can do for yourself is to hide it and isolate from others.
There is value in fellowship and confession of sin, and we do not need to bear any burden alone.
To draw this to a close, allow me to simply say the following: if you’re dealing with these pesky sins that so easily cling to us, you are not alone. Fighting it will be difficult, and may at times even feel like it isn’t worth it. You will experience failure. But the Lord will bless your effort to fight against sin, as it is His will for you to be sanctified – that is, to become more like Him.
So lay aside that sin.
Put it aside as one casting off a heavy weight or a cumbersome load. Have you ever carried something heavy, perhaps a bucket of water or a big rock, and then felt great relief once you were able to drop that thing?
Sin is the same way. We may not realize it, but these sins are like heavy boulders tied to us. They are like drafty windows or leaky faucets. They rob our rest and steal our energy. We get so used to the grueling effects of the sin, but – once they are laid aside – we find the true rest we were searching for.
This in mind, let us resist temptation with all we have. Let us fight the sins that lay hidden in the shadowy corners of our lives.
Christ promises abundant life, and sweeter fellowship with Him and with others. He is greater than anything we could possibly leave behind.
Let us therefore throw off every weight and run to Him.