Adultery. Theft. Murder.
These are the forbidden sins, the first on the list of what Christians are not permitted to do. Other obvious sins include blasphemy, profanity, using the Lord’s name in vain, sexual sin, and causing harm to others.
But what about those other sins, the ones that either take place behind closed doors or are so commonplace that we don’t even realize we’re sinning? We do many of these things on a daily basis yet they usually don’t cause fellow believers to correct us or question our salvation.
These are the sins we can’t help but commit. The sins no one makes us feel bad about. These are the sins of the heart.
So here are 10 examples of sins that often float under the radar in our everyday lives. But as you read, don’t let this list weigh you down. These sins are rooted deeply in our fallen hearts, but Christ died for our sins and we have the Spirit at work within us. Confess them to Him and pray for the Spirit to change the things you cannot change on your own.
Gluttony doesn’t just refer to someone who eats uncontrollably. A glutton is a person who consumes without thought of ration or self-control. But why is it a sin? Why does Christ want us to keep from over-eating and over-drinking and over-anything? Because we all have a deep hole inside that needs to be filled, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot fill it with anything in this world. There is only one thing that can satisfy our endless cravings: a loving relationship with our Savior. Jesus is the living water that will not run dry and the bread of life that will not run out. Instead of mindlessly turning to food and drink, turn to Jesus and feast on Him.
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”(John 4:14)
This may be the sin Jesus spoke against the most. Like gluttony, greed is the constant desire to have something more—and that’s a misdirected craving. First of all, as believers in Christ, we need to remember that this world is not our home. Whatever we think we own, we will not be able to take with us into the life to come. Turn your focus away from earthly ambitions and possessions and focus more on the abundant riches you have in Christ and on your future great inheritance.
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”(Luke 12:15)
As human beings, we complain a lot. The Bible tells us that we should do everything without complaining yet we continue to grumble about even the little things in life. What should we do? Unlike the Israelites who complained to Moses in the desert, followers of Christ must look to the One who never complained. Just as Jesus was content with all things, so we can be content with the life and situations God has graciously given us. Trust that your life is in His hands and that He is working all things together for good.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
You can find pride at the root of all kinds of sin, for it is pride that makes us believe that we are better than our Creator. Pride is what led Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and pride is what allows all of us to think we know what’s best for ourselves. In the western world, society is built upon humanity’s ability to promote our own achievements and say, “Look what I just did.” But if we focus on our selves and our own abilities, we leave no room for God. Instead humble yourself before the Lord, put all your hope and trust in Christ, and give Him all the glory.
In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Psalm 10:4)
Have you ever looked at something and said, “I want that?” Of course you have. We’ve all coveted some material possession that was out of our reach. But often this envy leads us to despise our neighbors for the life they have. Whether it’s a car, a house, a job, or a relationship, an envious life is not the life we’ve been called to in Jesus. Instead, be content and enjoy the blessings that the Lord has given to you, and ask the Spirit to give you love for your neighbor.
For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1 Corinthians 3:3)
Are you beginning to pick up on a consistent theme here? Gluttony, greed, pride and envy all have something in common: the self. We naturally put ourselves before God and others. But Christ came to deliver us from this deadly way of life. When someone asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, He responded that we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind—and then He said we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Confess and ask the Spirit to turn your heart outward in love to the Lord and to those around you.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.(Philippians 2:4)
Anger alone is not a sin. There is such a thing as righteous anger, such as the time Jesus overthrew the table in the temple. But our anger is almost always unrighteous, fuelled by our pride and self-centeredness. Excessive anger leads to a bitter and resentful heart that is contrary to the will of God. Watch your anger, confess it, and pray for humility and patience when situations get tough.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
8. Lust (the kind that does not act out)
In a worldly, over-sexualized society, it is often difficult to follow Jesus’ warning of committing adultery in our hearts when we look at others lustfully. And since this happens in our hearts, there is no immediate penalty, which makes this sin against God and ourselves go unnoticed. We accept it because no one has to know. Guard your hearts, protect your sight from what could lead you into temptation, and pray for the Lord to deliver you from this sin of the heart.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
When you discover something that is so juicy and compelling, it is hard not to immediately tell your closest confidant. Secrets get out, rumors are born, and trust falters as gossip spreads throughout the community. It takes place at church, in school, in the workplace, among family, and with friends. Nothing stops gossip once it starts, but we never know we’re doing it when the words are coming out of our mouths. So what do we do? Stop! That may sound trite, but the answer is to hold your tongue and to be mindful and pray about how you can better represent Christ through your words.
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)
Finally, the “acceptable sin” that takes place most often in the hearts of believers is the sin of judging others. This is something that can be expressed outwardly but for the most part, it takes place in our hearts. It begins with simply comparing ourselves to others and ends with putting ourselves in the place of God. The point is that we are all sinners. None is greater than the other, and God sheds His grace on us equally as we look to Him for help and forgiveness.
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
It may not be politically correct to talk about sin today, but it is at the core of the human experience. Sin is the one thing that keeps mankind separated from the love of God. Jesus, the One who had no sin (even these acceptable ones), came to earth to take on the penalty of our sin so that we can experience eternal life with Him. As believers we are no longer condemned by our sin and they can never separate us from the One who loves us.
But the truth remains, even after we believe and are saved by grace, we are still attached to our human, fleshly bodies that go on sinning in this broken world. The difference is that Christ followers have the Holy Spirit, who allows us to discern what we should and should NOT be doing. As we mature in faith, God helps us become more and more like Him, which in turn means we sin less and less.
May this give you the perspective to heed the Spirit during those times you may want to gossip or complain and feel discontent. May you remember the verses that speak against gluttony, lust and greed, pride and judgmentalism, anger and lust. And may you also remember that you have complete forgiveness in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit at work within you.