Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Big and Little Sins

Have you ever wondered how men who have been Christians a long time or who are leaders in the church fall into sexual immorality, get divorced, or are dishonest or unethical in their conduct? One of the answers that Christians have given to me is that these leaders are special targets of the Enemy because they are so greatly used.

I have difficulty with this answer (although it is possible) because of 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

In this passage, there are statements about man, temptation, and God. If a man sins, it is not caused by the greatness of temptation; that is common. Nor is it caused by God’s unfaithfulness; God is faithful. So what is the problem? Man thinks he is strong. He is not careful. He is caught off guard and sins. This is true with the little sins as well as the big ones. However, the little ones precede the big ones.

We see this in the case of Peter and Susan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when they are trying to figure out why Lucy is telling such “whoppers.” The answer from the old professor points us to the projection in Luke 16:10 when he says, “Which is more truthful, Lucy or Edmund?” They both answered that Lucy was more truthful. The conclusion was that since Lucy did not normally lie about little things, she would not be telling big lies now. It is more likely that Edmund is telling the big lie because he was accustomed to telling little ones.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). Jesus makes it clear that the way to test for trust or dishonesty in big things is to observe trust or dishonesty in little things.

We see the same sort of progression in Psalm 19:13: “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” This is a progression towards being innocence of great sin. It is guaranteed by two prior victories: first, not being controlled by willful sins; and second, prior to that, being kept from willful sins by God.

If we are kept by God from willful sins, we will not have to be worried about the big ones.

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