Thinking about the deceitfulness of sin and how easy it is to justify its presence in our lives…It makes no difference what kind of sin it is—could be sexual, could be idolatry or covetousness, could be gossip or lying, could be stealing, could be something like racism—as long as it’s “private” or “small” or “socially acceptable,” we seem to be experts at rationalizing it or denying that it’s present in our lives. Why is that? We don’t seem to have a problem identifying “big” sins like murder, but those “little” sins—they trip us up all the time.
I think part of the problem—a BIG part of the problem—is that many Christians seldom, if ever, open the Bible and read it any more. Along with that, many Christians seldom, if ever, take a look at God’s original instructions for His people, contained in the first five books of the Bible. Without an understanding of the “law,” God’s Torah, we can no longer identify what is sin and what is not; without Torah, there are no absolutes. It then becomes a matter of what seems “right” to me. Therefore, if it feels good, do it. God knows that we are human and He’ll forgive us. But is that really the way sin and God’s forgiveness works? I think not. That smacks just a little too much of “easy believe-ism” or “greasy grace” as some call it.
God set aside a people to bear His name and walk in His ways. Then He gave them instructions to guide them as they followed Him because His desire was for His people to be holy as He is holy. We call those instructions “the law.” These instructions are not impossible to follow. What made them so difficult to keep involved all of the rules and regulations that men attached to them. Yeshua kept these instructions perfectly, showing us through His example how they were meant to be followed, and elaborating on them in His teaching , restoring their original intent, and putting them in context for us.
However, we are born into sin, our hearts are desperately wicked, and without a constant focus on God’s Word and hiding that Word in our hearts, we so quickly slide into sin. The Bible tells us that sin is deceitful. It doesn’t present itself as some terrible, evil thing that we should fear it and run the other way. No, it whispers to our mind and our flesh, telling us how pleasant it is, how satisfying to our desires, how much pleasure we’ll experience by indulging in it, how “happy” it will make us. And then, like Eve, we think, “well, sure, why not?” Then the next thing we know, we’re entangled in it and find that getting free of its enslavement is not so easy and the pleasures that it promised more often than not leave us feeling empty and decidedly NOT “happy.” Trust me, I’ve been down that road more times than I can to remember and I KNOW. On the other hand, obedience to God’s instructions, although it might mean crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5: 24), brings joy and peace (Rom 8:6).
So how DO we know what sin is and how to identify it in our hearts and lives? Romans 3:20: Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 7:7: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." 1 John 3:4 AMP: Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God's law by transgression or neglect--being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will). CJB Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah.
For further study:
Romans 6 (all), 8:1-18
Galatians 5: 16-26
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Ephesians 4:21-24, 5:1-17