When my children were toddlers, each had a favorite stuffed animal. They took them everywhere. We had to make rules that doggies and dolls weren’t allowed at dinner, and they couldn’t be taken into stores. Mommy said the kids couldn’t hold them at supper, because that required too many washings. They couldn’t take them to stores, because they would inevitably be left behind. I’ll never forget the time my youngest left his favorite animal in a shop 40 miles from home. He was inconsolable! Children love their dolls because they provide a source of comfort and security. It’s hard to get them to let go. Adults often find comfort in other things. Sometimes they find it in things which God prohibits — secret habits and sinful hangups which go against God’s truth. Consider three reasons we hold on to sin.
Let’s be honest — some sin is fun. We enjoy it, so that’s why we do it. Though the consequences and fallout may stink, sin is delightful in the short-term. When Moses was called to lead the people of God out of Egypt, he was presented with a choice. He could obey God, or He could return to the royal household of Pharaoh. He had a place in the former. He had full right to enjoy the riches and inheritance that awaited him. Scripture says he “chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). The Bible affirms the temporary enjoyment associated with sin. If you are holding on to sin because it makes you happy, realize that such happiness is temporary.
Some people persist in sinful patterns because they simply don’t know any better. I once spoke with a missionary from Zimbabwe who told me of the way in which she and her husband had to teach native men to not beat their wives. No one had ever told them that their customary practice was evil. Some people stay in sin because of ignorance. Such was the case with the apostle Paul. Prior to conversion, he was a blasphemer. By his own admission, he committed such sin because he “acted out of ignorance” (1 Timothy 1:13). You may be stuck in a rut of sin because of a lack of knowledge. Commit yourself to regularly ingesting God’s truth through Bible reading, podcasts, audio books, and preaching. God will use the light of His word to expose the error of your ways.
Sin grows in secret. This is a universal axiom which can’t be undone. I recently read an article which contained case studies of businessmen who were caught in unethical practices. Each faced stiff fines and extended prison sentences. When asked to recount the way in which they became entangled in illegal activity, a good number of them admitted that their behavior became addictive when they didn’t get caught. Sin without consequence is a drug to the soul. As a result, believers need to confess their sins if they want to experience liberty. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us, “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16). It also says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9). When you try to cover your sins, God will eventually uncover them. But if you uncover your sins, God will cover them.
Dr. Patrick Latham