We can never be ambivalent. We who are Christians have no right to allow any sin to persist. We must go hard after every sin and to pursue each one until it has been completely crushed, for even one sin left alone is enough to do terrible damage to our souls. A recent study of one of my favorite old authors showed me the damning devastation of a single coddled sin. Here are nine things to consider in times you may feel ambivalent toward even a single sin.
One treasured sin hands Satan just as much power over you as a hundred. As a fowler can hold a bird by one wing, Satan can hold you by just one sin. Just a single sin left in your life is as dangerous as just a single rattlesnake left in your bed.
One sin makes way for more. Just as a thief who sneaks in to a home can open wide the front door and allow others to enter behind him, one sin prepares the way for others to follow. David allowed adultery to sneak in and it opened the door to murder.
One sin will make you unfit for suffering. The person with an untended wound on his shoulder cannot carry a heavy pack, and the person with an untended sin cannot carry a heavy cross. Will you be willing to give up your life for Christ tomorrow if you are not willing to give up your lust today? In a time of trial, that one favorite sin may prove the seed that springs up into apostasy.
One complacent sin proves that the whole heart is unsound. The person who hides just one rebel in his house is a traitor to his king; the person who indulges in just one sin is a traitor to his Savior. It is not the quantity of the sin that matters as much as its mere presence.
One sin is as much a breach of the law as many more. The one who is guilty of transgressing one law is guilty of violating the whole thing. You do not become a law-breaker when you have broken every law, but merely a single law.
One sin will damn a soul just as much as many more. One disease is enough to destroy the body; one hole in a fence is enough to allow a predator to attack the flock; one sin permitted is enough to allow Satan to enter the soul. It takes just one millstone, not ten or twenty, to sink a man to the bottom of the ocean.
One sin dwelling within keeps Christ out. A clog keeps water from flowing through a pipe, and in the same way sin is an obstruction that holds back Christ’s soul-cleansing grace and the Spirit’s sin-destroying power. One stone is sufficient to clog the pipe and one sin is sufficient to hold back Christ.
One sin spoils all good deeds and duties. A single drop of poison pollutes a whole glass of wine. A single sin treated with ambivalence destroys the benefit of Christian fellowship, Lord’s Supper, worship, prayer. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
One coddled sin will steal your assurance. A single sin will be like a worm that tunnels to the core of an apple, ruining the whole thing. Like a pirate steals treasure, sin steals comfort and peace and assurance. One jarring note can spoil a musician’s song and one unconfessed sin can spoil a Christian’s conscience.
So Christian, do not be ambivalent with your sin. Do not be complacent with sin in general and be doubly sure you are not ignoring a single treasured pet sin. There is great danger in any and every sin; there is great joy and freedom in every measure of holiness.
This article was drawn from The Godly Man’s Picture which I’ve been reading with a whole crowd of people as part of my ongoing Reading Classics Together effort. We’ve now come to the end of the book. I hope you enjoyed it!