Seven times, the New Testament warns us not to be deceived. All seven deal with the nature of sin. Clearly, sin is a subject about which much deception circulates! We must be especially wary.
Some Say, “Sin is No Big Deal”
For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Sometimes people think of sin as less serious a matter than God does. OK, perhaps sin isn’t a good idea. Perhaps a few sins du jour are to blame for society’s ills. But on a personal level, sin is just not worth losing sleep over.
These are “empty words.” God reveals His mind to shake us out of such complacency. Sin is not to be made light of. It is not to be depicted as a source of happiness or joy. Sin is an abomination to God. It separates a child of God from his heavenly Father.
Some Say, “Sinners are Righteous”
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the Devil (1 John 3:7-8).
Why would John bother to assert that the one who practices righteousness is righteous? Duh! But, it prevents us from entertaining the popular notion that the one who practices sin is righteous.
Want to live eternally with God? Value what God values. Act like God acts. If instead you choose to follow the pattern of the world, then do not expect to dwell eternally with God.
Some Say, “I Have to Sin”
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren (James 1:13-16).
People will say, “God doesn’t understand how difficult this situation is for me.” Or even, “I was born this way.” God never forces anyone to sin. God does not create anyone who must sin to find fulfillment. Sin is not the result of genetics, but of decisions made contrary to God’s will and God’s created order.
Some Say, “I Can Hang Out with Sinners and Remain Unaffected”
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame (1 Corinthians 15:33).
It’s wishful thinking to believe that I can choose a sinful crowd and not pick up their bad habits. Profanity is proof. It works the same way with behavior.
Some Say, “I Can Get Away with It”
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8).
God doesn’t smite every sin with an instantaneous lightning bolt (Eccl. 8:11). But gradually and eventually, a sinful lifestyle leads a person farther from God and affects his eternal destiny.
Some Say, “I Am Sinless”
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).
No one except Jesus has lived a sin-free life. In fact, I doubt anyone has lived a sin-free today! Even Christians must admit sin, so that we can deal with our sin appropriately by appealing to the mercy of Christ.
Some Say, “I Can Sin and Still Go to Heaven”
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
On Judgment Day, God will pour out His wrath upon sin generally, and upon sinners personally. Thanks be to God, that through the name of Christ, we may be forgiven! –John Guzzetta