By Chara Donahue, Crosswalk.com
Beginning a discussion about sins can often feel overwhelming, but we need to consistently, humbly invite God to search us for anything within us that is an offense to him. Once we can see it, we can fight it. John Owen instructed believers in The Mortification of Sin to, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Sin is serious, but the good news for the believer is it has been atoned for. Isaiah 1:18 illustrates this beautifully: “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”
Women and men were both made in God’s image and both struggle with making ungodly decisions. But since men and women were created differently, the same sins can show up in various shades. We are going to take a close look at ten of these sins—once we can see it, we can fight it.
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1. Thinking We Know Better Than God
If we really understood the greatness of the story God is telling, we would recognize that our lives are both small and mighty things. Small in the sense that each of us are but single characters in the story God is telling; mighty in that if we live knowing that this life is all about God, we get the privilege of helping to build an eternal kingdom. A kingdom that will outlast evil, pain, and sin.
This is why there is so much pride wrapped in the moments we think we could know better than God, and such folly in living for ourselves. When all we do in life is to serve me and mine, I serve myself as the god of my own kingdom, and make the mistake of believing God serves me. God loves us, cares for us, provides for us and Jesus came as the servant king.
In moments of clarity, can we actually conceive telling God, “I see your way, but mine is better.” We would like to say “no,” but the truth is we do this often. We do it at work, in relationships, and even when it comes to how we approach spiritual things. If we seek to honor God, we must remember what he has told us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
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2. Delayed Obedience
How often do we know that God is asking us to do something and yet we still delay our obedience? Maybe we wouldn’t be so brazen as to just tell him “No,” but women routinely tell God, “later.” We convince ourselves that too many other things need our immediate attention, and surely God will understand why we tabled his command to speak to that neighbor, help that friend, or serve in a certain ministry at church.
It is wise to not overwhelm ourselves with activity, but too often that wisdom is used as an excuse for not doing what God has said. This is often because obedience to do something new means stopping something we don’t feel ready to stop. We are downplaying God, and cheating ourselves. He will send others to do what we would not do. We just miss out on being a witness to what God can do when we trust him.
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3. Tolerance of Sin
In the name of tolerance and love, women, again and again, are willing to call sin by other names: weakness, personal truth, just the way I am. God does not take sin lightly because it separates us from him. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” That should terrify us, that permitting sin to remain also prompts God’s revulsion. Yet Romans 5:8 reveals the cure: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We can hate sin while loving people, and must rid ourselves of the idea that the two cannot coexist. In fact, hating the ways sin deceives and destroys others is a revolutionary act of love. We can hate murder, selfishness, racism, and brutality, while keeping in mind that if we are believers, we don’t get to pick what sins to hate by which are socially acceptable or convenient to dislike.
We hate all sin because God hates all sin. We don’t let it stick around because we don’t think we have time to deal with it, or because thinking about it makes us feel bad about who we are. We trust that we are who God says we are—righteous, beloved, children of the God of the universe, and we fight for the freedom that leads to abundant life.
Don’t let sin speak even a whisper of a lie. In Genesis 4:7 God says to Cain before he became humanity’s first murderer, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” When sin is seeking to devour us, we do not let it linger to see if it will only take a small bite; we rule over it with the strength of God at work in us.
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4. Fear of Man
Everyone wants a sense of belonging, and many are desperately searching for it. That desire, if left unchecked, leads people into alternating cycles of fear of man and people-pleasing. When our loves are rightly oriented, that puts and keeps Jesus as first, so we live with a reverential fear of God and seek to please him before all others. We live like Paul, who in Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
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5. Planning without Considering God
Oh, how we like to plan for the future—considering how and when our hearts’ desires will be brought to fruition can be a glorious thing, as long as we are seeking God to guide us as we make them. But how often do we rely on our own strength and wisdom to help us decide and discern what is good?
We must slow down enough to make sure we have quieted our own ambition, and anything solely focused on “me” to hear what God has to say. We consider, obey, and hold everything with open hands. Jesus’ half-brother minces no words about this in James 4:13-15: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
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We tend to think of overindulgence of food when we hear the word gluttony, and that is certainly the most common branch of it, but gluttony can be applied to the excess of any earthly thing. For some maybe it is tv binging, for others exercise, or maybe it’s online shopping. Paul warned us that a voracious indulgence of any worldly pastime or pleasure can be harmful. He advises that those given to feed their fleshly desires above their spiritual ones will find hurt waiting for them. “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
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7. Glory Grabbing
This one takes place in public and in private. When we experience success, do we acknowledge that all good gifts come from God? Or are we quick to grab the glory for ourselves? If boastful #winning is constantly showing up in our posts, it’s actually more than likely #sinning. Whether it is a good meal, an assignment well done, or a fruitful ministry, to God be the glory alone.
While there are times when we reap what we sow by working diligently, our hearts should still acknowledge we can only do so because God has given us the strength, wisdom, and ability. God’s glory is a prevalent theme in the Bible and this story from Acts 12:21-23 is a sober reminder of the dangers of basking in glory that is not ours, “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
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Philippians 2:14-15 directs us, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” It seems like an impossible ask, but God does not command us to do things he will not supply the strength for.
We have all heard a friend say, “I just need to vent!” While it is wise to seek godly friends for guidance when life’s problems press in, it is not a godly behavior to just complain and grumble. The difference between pursuing godly support and sinful griping is what we do after we explain our situation.
Do we ask for prayer and seek direction to deal with our stuff, or are we just seeking to share our struggle so someone can feel bad for us and tell us we are in the right?
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Envy and jealousy are often confused, but I will venture to say that envy is more prevalent among women. Richard H. Smith Ph.D reported in Psychology Today that, “Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another. Jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person. And so envy is a two-person situation whereas jealousy is a three-person situation. Envy is a reaction to lacking something. Jealousy is a reaction to the threat of losing something (usually someone).”
Envy breeds discontentment, and both must be addressed because left unchecked, they both have the power to destroy. It is foolishness to entertain our envy, because there is no love in it, only hatred and disdain. As Titus 3:3 teaches, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
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In Stuck, Jennie Allen describes this problem perfectly, “Discontentment is plaguing the souls of women. Our houses are too small; we wear the wrong size; we can’t get pregnant; we can’t get married; we can’t afford the right jeans. We need kids who obey and hair that obeys and husbands who obey, and we need jobs that are fulfilling and enough money to do it all.” She is right! A plague of discontentment is weakening too many souls and we must make it stop.
God’s word gives us the secret to the contentment we are all seeking. Paul wrote to the Philippians (while on house arrest) with the truth that we can rejoice, be thankful, and think rightly in all circumstances. He also gave us this wisdom, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
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