Three Hidden Sins In Christian Culture

Some sins go undetected in Christian culture because they seem "little" compared to the "big" sins. But the gospel frees us to hate all sin and love holiness.

Most of us tend to be surprised by the things we uncover when we clean out an overstuffed drawer or cupboard. It is only when we open up those long-ignored spaces and pull out the junk, that we notice the obscure things wedged in the back, buried under a pile of other stuff, disregarded for months or even years together.

Our lives are fairly similar to those deep drawers and overflowing cupboards. We are likely to empty out what is right under our noses. But what about the things that have been accumulating in a quiet, undisturbed corner? 

We might stay on schedule with cleaning our homes but we can let years can slip by without any deep cleaning in our lives.

Perhaps you have heard it said, “There are no ‘big’ sins and ‘little’ sins in God’s eyes.” But do we whitewash and sanitise certain sins because their consequences seem “little” or insignificant?

Do we brush certain sins under the carpet and classify them as “excusable” because they are not glaringly obvious or deemed wrong by the standards of the world?

While by no means an exhaustive list, here are three sins that tend to lurk in Christian culture. We would do well to pay closer attention to them.

Gossip: The Sin Behind Our “Sharing”

You may be familiar with the song that goes: “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is the people.” But here’s the thing about people—we come with chequered lives and with the capacity to talk about other peoples’ colourful stories.

We want to be the one with the “inside scoop,” or the “trustworthy” person that someone confided in.

As Christians, we seem to give the sin of gossip a special pass. It slides under the euphemisms of “sharing,” a “prayer request,” or even a “burden on my heart.” But when we get down to brass tacks, gossip stems from pride. We want to be the one with the “inside scoop,” or the “trustworthy” person that someone confided in.

Gossip can also stem from jealousy. We feel compelled to share stories that tarnish someone’s reputation or listen to damaging details that put a dent in someone’s seemingly perfect story. We use gossip as a balm to cure our envy.

So it is no surprise that God takes gossip seriously, even if Christian culture seems to have permitted and welcomed it.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul includes gossip in a list of other sins that people consider more grievous, like murder, deceit, and hating God (Rom. 1:29-32). Perhaps that indicates we should be as exacting on gossip as we are on “bigger” sins.

May our prayer be for the Lord to keep a watch over the door of our mouths (Ps. 141:3). May we speak words that serve to build others up rather than tear them down (Eph. 4:29).

Self-righteousness: The Sin Behind Our Testimonies of God’s Grace

As we mature in our Christian walk and grow in the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer, are we inclined to believe that the work of sanctification takes place by our own efforts?

Self-righteousness can be one of the most insidious sins because it stems from all the right actions.

Do we subscribe to the world’s pattern of measuring ourselves by our “doing.” In the Christian context, this means benchmarks like the frequency of our quiet times, how much we have tithed, or the number of prayer groups we belong to.

Self-righteousness can be one of the most insidious sins because it stems from all the right actions. We often wrap self-righteousness in the garb of testifying about God’s grace.

While speaking of God’s work in our lives, we have also perfected the art of slipping in details about our weekly fasts, an upcoming missions trip, or our charitable giving.

The more we become aware of our own righteous actions, the more we tend to see the speck of dust in the eyes of others, while ignoring the plank in our own.

Self-righteousness creates very little space for conviction from the Word or correction from others. But Scripture reminds us that it is God who began a good work in us and it is the Lord who is faithful to bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

We simply do not have the capacity to carry out the work of sanctification. It is only the Lord who saves and sanctifies us.

May we pray for humble hearts that are far more intent on obeying the Lord than patting ourselves on our backs for our obedience.

Self-glory: The Sin Behind the Allure of the Spotlight

Church services and related activities create several opportunities to lead from the front. But those opportunities can silently morph into pitfalls.

If we are not watchful, the Christian life can very easily devolve into a performance. As we find ourselves on platforms as preachers, teachers, or worship leaders, there is the distinct possibility of living for our own glory rather than for the glory of God.

We may want the Lord to take centre stage but also face the temptation of taking some of the credit and glory for ourselves.

In the current environment of Instagram preachers and Christian influencers on social media, the temptation of seeking the world’s adulation has never been as pervasive as it is now.

As a writer with an Instagram account for Christian quotes, I can see how deceptive this temptation can be, especially when the glare of the spotlight blinds me to my own pride.

The adrenalin rush from new followers, shares, and likes, can camouflage the fact that we are bowing down to idols of fame and popularity. Self-glorification is a sin that is not easily discernible.

While we may desire to honour God with our gifts, the enemy can exploit our platforms so we seek the applause of the world more than the approval of God.

We may want the Lord to take centre stage but also face the temptation of taking some of the credit and glory for ourselves.

But God’s Word reminds us that every good and perfect gift (including our talents) comes from above (James 1: 17).

In fact, Scripture says that apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5). This makes any attempt to usurp the glory of God an almost-laughable sin.

May we take time off from the glare of the spotlight and examine our hearts in the light of God’s Word.

We Are Without Excuse

As part of the household of God, judgment begins with us (1 Pet. 4:17). The Lord does not request us to be somewhat holy but commands us to be holy as he is holy (1 Pet. 1:16).

Christian culture can become a hiding place for “acceptable” sins that we silently indulge. But when Scripture lights up the recesses of our hearts, we have no excuse for sin.

There are no shadows where sins can stay hidden. It is time we pulled open all the drawers and cupboards, the nooks and crannies of our lives and allowed God to do his work of deep-cleaning our hearts.

We Have a Saviour Without Sin

Our Lord was tempted in every way—with “little” and “big” sins but did not give into temptation. He did not use his tongue to speak words that kill reputations but with words of eternal life.

Though he alone is righteous, he became a sin offering, so we can be made truly righteous.

He did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage but through his true humility, he brought many sons and daughters to glory. We have a Saviour who lived without sin, died to defeat sin, and gives us his grace to conquer sin.