Sin’s Deceit

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." —Psalm 139:23-24

Back in college, I recall two Christian friends of mine who had an interesting arrangement. Knowing the warnings in Scripture about gossip, they made a pact. They promised never to gossip… except with each other. They didn’t have loose tongues with anyone else because they knew it would be a bad witness. But when those two closed the door of their dorm room… oh, did they give each other earfuls!

My friends thought they had housebroken their gossip. They assumed they had made their whispering about people respectable, and under control. But now, many years later, those two friends aren’t even friends anymore. I suppose they encountered the truth of Proverbs 16:28, where it says that “… gossip separates close friends.” Hmmm. It’s unfortunate that Christians try to housebreak certain sins as though we can maintain control over them. Though we might argue the point, it is usually the sin gains control over us! It does so by deceiving us of its deadly sting. Take gossip, for instance. It seems like a rather small and private offense, and somewhat harmless if done discreetly. But in Romans 1:30, the Lord places gossips and God-haters in the same sentence. I wouldn’t call that harmless.

In this season of Lent, consider what Bishop J. C. Ryle wrote: “Sin comes to us like Judas with a kiss…. Sin in its beginnings, seems harmless enough—like David walking idly on his palace roof which happened to overlook the bedroom of a woman. You and I may give wickedness smooth-sounding names, but we cannot alter its nature and character in the sight of God.”

Ask the Holy Spirit to point out to you those attitudes and actions that grieve his heart—and then push them away from your life like the deadly poison they truly are.

Forgive me, Lord, for taking a casual attitude toward the “little” sins which you paid for with your very life.
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