Which is the more dangerous sin, the one that creates a chemical dependency, such as drugs or alcohol, and destroys a body, or the one that creates an emotional or behavioral aberration, such as envy or complaining, and twists a person’s spirit?
We know the answer to that, do we not? All sin is dangerous. But perhaps the physical effects of many sins are not evident, so we attribute less weight to them. (Probably most or all sins have some physical manifestation.) We treat them with less seriousness. They are more respectable to us.
In a way, however, all sin is addictive. All sin traps the sinner. All sin is controlling.
The wicked will be captured by his own iniquities,
and he will be held by the cords of his own sin. Prov 5.22.
The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires. Prov 11.6.
The Hebrew word behind “captured” is used most of the time in the Old Testament of a city, of men, of spoils, or even of a kingdom being captured or taken, according to the Theological Wordbook of the OT. It is a powerful image for the effects of sin in one’s life.
Sin cannot be controlled nor contained. Once given the slightest opening, it takes root and grows. (See Heb 12.15.) It cannot be trimmed back, but must be eradicated completely. A disciple cannot tolerate it to any degree, but must fight it with full energy. The saint knows that sin clings or entangles and keeps one from following the Lord properly, Heb 12.1. So every such weight must be gotten rid of.
Curiosity, attraction, small thoughts, suggestions, hints, and all sparks of desire toward sin must be doused immediately. Questions of what if and what would it be like and why can’t I must be refused when they first appear. No “impurity of any kind” ought to be allowed, Eph 5.3.
When I was a boy, teachers often told the youth of the congregation not to take the first drink or the first puff. Some scoffed at such advice, but it was, and continues to be, sound and wise. Actually, it needs to be widened to include all sin. The first step into bitterness, resentment, covetousness, sensuality, anger, quarreling, and all malice must be avoided. All of it, Eph 4.31.
Success against sin is humanly impossible. But with God sin can be defeated. Christ frees us from the entrapment and enslavement of sin, Rom 6.6. God’s power allows us to live godly lives, 2 Pet 1.3. The life-giving Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death, Rom 8.2. Confession of sin to one another in the church and prayers for one another brings spiritual healing, Jas 5.16. We are sustained by the powerful word of Christ, Heb 1.3. The gospel is not mere words, but transformative power, 1 Thes 1.5; 2 Tim 1.8.
Let us not be passive in the fight against sin. It is not a losing battle. On the contrary, we may grow, together, “into a holy temple in the Lord” to become that “dwelling place of God in the Spirit” Eph 2.21-22. This is God’s desire for us and the destiny of all who are willing.