“For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16).
SOME SINS OPENLY FLY THE FLAG OF CORRUPTION AND REBELLION, WHILE OTHERS DO THEIR DAMAGE MORE PRIVATELY. Sins like pride and greed, for example, are every bit as destructive as sexual immorality (if not more so), but those of us who preach don’t preach against them nearly as often. We ought to ponder why this is so.
Sins come in all shapes and sizes. They are all equal in that they will separate us from God, and that fact should make us treat every sin, even the “least” of them, as a deadly serious matter. But in other ways, sins may be different. Some are oriented toward God while others are more in the direction of other people. Some we confine to our hearts while others erupt into outward action. Some have greater temporal consequences attached to them than others.
Admit it or not, all of us prioritize sins. If you’re a parent, there are some sins you would be more greatly concerned about if you saw them beginning to take root in your children’s lives. Such a prioritization of sins can hardly be avoided, I think. My concern is not that we view some sins as more serious — it’s that we get our priorities from the popular culture. Our “righteous indignation” is determined not by the scale of values in the Scriptures but by the ever-changing dictums of social stigma, political correctness, and modern psychology. So the problem is not that we have a list but that our ranking of the most dangerous sins didn’t come from Jesus.
Looking into our own hearts, what do we see? Whatever mistakes we might make in our concern for others, we certainly don’t want to underestimate the danger of the sins that beset us personally. So what would alarm you most if you took an honest look inside and saw different kinds of sin in your heart?
In heaven there will be no marriage and in hell, no fornication. But in heaven there certainly will be love and in hell, hatred. Even now, hatred will take you closer to hell than fornication will. Sexual sin is an abomination and it will damn your soul, but if things like pride, anger, and selfishness are in your heart, you are already farther down the road to hell than if lasciviousness was your only problem.
“The sins of the bedroom are not the only ones. The sins of the boardroom should be just as much a matter of concern” (Richard Harries).