Every Christian can think of a sin he has identified and attacked with all the brutality he can muster. One of the great joys of the Christian life is seeing God be true to his Word as he motivates and empowers us to wage war against indwelling sin. Yet every one of us probably also has a sin we rather enjoy, a sin we refuse to put to death. In fact, we may even protect and promote it. We might refer to it as a pet sin. Here are some tips on identifying your pet sin.
Your pet sin is the one you hate to have challenged. Herod refused to tolerate John the Baptist criticizing his incestuous relationship, and John’s rebuke cost him his head. You may be glad to hear the preacher rail against every other kind of sin, but react angrily when he rebukes just one particular sin. He has probably just identified your little pet sin. What sin do you hate to have challenged?
Your pet sin is the one your thoughts naturally run to. It is where your heart flees in trouble or your mind drifts in fantasy. Consider where your thoughts go when you fail to restrain them and consider what promises to soothe your heart when you are sorrowful. This may just lead you to your pet sin. What sin do your thoughts tend to drift to?
Your pet sin is the one that has the most power over you. There are some sins you have little trouble rejecting. They hold little sway over your soul. But the sin that always poses a deep and difficult temptation, the one that so often overwhelms you, this is probably your pet sin. This is probably a sin you have fostered instead of destroyed. What sin has the most power over you?
Your pet sin is the one you will defend. Each of us will make justifications for a certain sin, explaining why it’s not really our fault or even why it’s not sin at all. “It doesn’t matter where I get my appetite, as long as I eat at home,” says the man consumed with lust. “If she hadn’t spoken to me that way, I wouldn’t have blown up,” says the woman given over to anger. Like Jonah, we can all say, “Yes, I do well to be angry!”, justifying when we should be confessing and repenting. What sin do you defend?
Your pet sin is the one that torments you when you are in sickness or distress. It was in their time of greatest distress that Joseph’s brothers thought of their greatest sin. When you are on your sick bed or in times of soul torment, your conscience and even perhaps the Holy Spirit may bring to mind that one sin you’ve been coddling. Just as this sin may be on your mind in quiet moments and great triumphs, it will make an appearance when you are at your lowest. What sin comes to your heart and mind in times of difficulty?
Your pet sin is the one you’re unwilling to give up. This sin is your Benjamin, the child you are unwilling to let go. As Jacob refused to part with his favorite son, you can cling tightly to your favorite sin. A castle may be surrounded by several forts, and the king will allow his army to retreat from them when necessary. But he will fight to the death over the keep. And that’s just the way with your pet sin. You will allow other sins to fall, but protect that one, even with your life. What sin are you unwilling to live without?
Christian, this pet sin is the most dangerous sin of all. It is the one that most threatens your soul, that most steals your joy, that most inhibits your sanctification. It is the one that most provokes God to chasten you out of love. If you want your soul to be at peace, you need to make war against your pet sin.
This article was drawn from The Godly Man’s Picture which I’m reading with a whole crowd of people as part of my ongoing Reading Classics Together effort.
For those who are reading with me, please continue reading Chapter IV, “Showing the Characters of a Godly Man,” sections 20-24. Again, that’s a pretty sizable chunk of reading, so don’t procrastinate. Then check back a week from today and I’ll have an article drawn from it.