Hebrews 12:1 describes a great cloud of witnesses surrounding Christians, urging all to throw off every hindrance and sin that so easily entangles. Sadly, even while being cheered on, Christians have become slack in dealing with sin in their lives.
So when sin is not being confronted, or even viewed as sin at all, it’s time to address it with the hope of gently helping to restore believers caught in its web.
Below are 10 sins that often go overlooked in Christian community.
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1. Christians Loving the World
Where do you look for inspiration, wisdom, and pleasure? Are you more familiar with the most popular films, music, writings, and celebrities than you are with God’s word?
If so, you may not realize how you are coming across in your relationship to God. James 4:4 explains it this way: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
God is not okay with our attention focused on the world. Rather, He encourages, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
We must choose to turn our affections away from the world and toward God, asking Him to help us love Him more.
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2. Christians Using Coarse Language
Have you noticed how many Christians think it’s cool to incorporate coarse or vulgar speech into their dialogue, using the excuse that it is the way to relate and reach a fallen world, of being “culturally relevant"?
Maybe you think so, too? If so, have you considered what might really behind it? Are you more interested in gaining the world’s approval and attention than pleasing God?
Because the truth is, Jesus ministered effectively to fallen humanity without coarse or vulgar speech, even stressing how the words you speak matter: “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).
If you’re still not convinced, James 3:6 takes it even further in describing the tongue as being able to corrupt the whole body.
Ask God to keep your words in check, to set a guard over your mouth, and watch over the door of your lips (Psalm 141:3). Decide to resist obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking (Ephesians 5:4). Seek to replace unwholesome language with speech that builds up and benefits everyone who hears your words (Ephesians 4:29).
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3. Christians Following Ungodly Counsel
What secular advisors and role models are you following? You may think they are very insightful and their wisdom makes sense, but have you considered the possibility that worldly ideology could lead you astray?
1 John 4:5 cautions us about taking in the world’s views explaining, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.”
However, “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:6).
The danger is we may unknowingly be following falsehood. To prevent worldly wisdom from leading us astray, we need to check to see if the advice you’re receiving lines up to what Scripture says is true.
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4. Christians Participating in Darkness
Sometimes it’s shocking to hear of the types of films, television programs and books Christians get caught up in. Content that is clearly in opposition to God’s word.
Somehow there seems to be a widespread acceptance in the Christian community that it’s okay to take in dark, sinful messages because we aren’t physically committing the sinful acts being played out.
But what Christians are missing is that by watching or reading this media, we are participating in it through our eyes and mind.
Ephesians 5:12 warns to not even talk about the shameful things people do in secret, so watching or reading about them isn’t okay either. And Proverbs 24:1 cautions, “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company.”
We can't be deceived to think by observing, we aren’t keeping company with them, because we are. Romans 5:13 strongly advises, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer any part of yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.”
As the Apostle Paul pleaded, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and please to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
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5. Christians Taking Divorce Lightly
With divorce seeming more like a viable option, rather than a last resort, it seems like most Christians are no longer looking at it as a sin. In wanting to take the stigma off divorce, Christians have diminished its seriousness and consequences.
But what would happen if Christians believed what 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 states. “A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
If leaving a mate meant having to live alone, rather than an opportunity to start over with another person, how many Christians would decide to suffer through difficulties, choose to forgive, and take the extra steps necessary to reconcile?
Divorce is not breaking a vow only to our spouse, but most importantly, to God. He considers Himself a witness between us and our spouse, and takes our covenant of marriage seriously. Malachi 2:14-16 describe how He hates divorce:
“You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’ says the LORD Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.”
Jesus explains how a man and woman become one flesh in marriage and urges couples to not let anyone separate what God has joined together (Matthew 19:4-6).
If you believe divorce is just an option or choice, ask God to deepen your understanding of how He views it.
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6. Christians Seeking Their Own Glory
Do you ever get caught up wanting to make sure you receive credit for an idea or something you’ve done? Temptation is all around to want to be noticed and be rewarded for your efforts.
Yet Colossians 3:17 encourages “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Like Jesus explained, “Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him” (John 7:18).
A good guide for seeking to give God the glory and not ourselves is found in 1 Peter 4:11. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
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7. Christians Showing Partiality
Not often talked about but widespread in the Christian community is partiality. Whether catering to the wealthy or celebrities, it’s pretty widespread.
However, James 2:9 spells it out clearly, “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”
Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal to many, it does matter to God, “For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:11).
Proverbs 29:21 reinforces that, “To show partiality is not good.”
James 2:1 also emphasizes it by explaining, “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”
If you find yourself practicing partiality, ask God to help you be more like Him.
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8. Christians Denying God’s Truth
Are you noticing how more and more, Christians, church leaders and denominations are choosing to forgo God’s truth based on His word and replacing it with cultural truth?
Based on popular trends and experiences, they are denying what God has said is true and replacing it with popular philosophies.
1 Timothy 4:1 reminds how, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
Unfortunately, it’s easy to find what 2 Timothy 4:3 describes. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Instead of going along with the crowd, we must be willing to speak out and stand up for God’s truth, even when it’s not popular.
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9. Christians Choosing Their Own Will Over God’s Will
How many times have you heard it said, or maybe even said yourself, “Even though Scripture says this, I feel God is leading me to do this…”?
How many individuals are marrying or becoming business partners with unbelievers, ignoring God’s direction to not be unequally yoked? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
God won’t ever lead us to do something that doesn’t line up with His will. If His words are leading one way, and we choose another, we’re choosing our own will over His.
Ephesians 5:17 cautions, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
When making decisions, we must seek to do God’s will over our own, knowing His way will lead us to life.
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10. Christians Fearing Men
If your boss instructs you to do something that goes against what God’s word says is right, what is your reaction? Is your first response to let your supervisor know you’re a Christian and aren’t going to participate?
Or are you fearful if you object, you could get fired, or passed over for promotions, or ostracized at work? Are you more afraid of losing your career, income, and benefits, than obeying God?
Psalm 56:11 encourages us to believe, “In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?”
Although Scripture urges us to submit to every human authority (1 Peter 2:13), it doesn’t include following an employer or other leader's direction to disobey God.
Like Peter declared, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)
Also, consider how our response could possibly change a situation. James 5:20 urges to, “Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
While taking courses at a secular university, my communication professor walked into the classroom announcing she was going to teach us to read tarot cards.
Immediately my hand went up telling her as a Christian, I couldn’t participate because the Bible instructs me to look to God for my future rather than fortune telling (Leviticus 19:26). Soon classmates began saying they were Christians, too, and also couldn’t participate.
In response, the instructor changed her plan, asking students instead to break into groups to discuss their faith.
Realize as a Christian, obeying God influences those around you.
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has an M.A. in Communications from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
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Originally published Tuesday, 08 January 2019.