As Christians we all know the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and are also well aware of the many other warnings in Scripture, such as in Revelation 22, against homosexuality, idolatry and fornication, to name a few.
Most Christians will not even consider entering into most of these “bigger and more obvious” sins, mainly because we were re-generated and are being convicted by the Holy Spirit. However, there are a few things, which are easier to fall prey to than others. These “no-no’s” are generally more of a “personal” nature and we often think that others would not realize when we commit them. The most frightening thing is however, that none of them can be hidden from God, who is omnipresent and all-knowing.
Some of these sins or bad habits could also become so part of us that we may later not even realize that we are committing them. And sadly … some of them are practiced as we were swallowed into church traditions and rituals.
So let’s briefly look at 10 of the most common “no-no’s.”
1. PRIDE AND ARROGANCE
The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness is sin, and God hates it because it is a hindrance to seeking Him. Psalm 10:4 explains that the proud are so consumed with themselves that their thoughts are far from God: “In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”
Sadly, so often there is even pride while Christians are busy with the things of their Father’s business. Debates on social media (eg Facebook, YouTube etc) provide good examples. So often, we see how Christians do not even give their “opponent’s” opinions the slightest bit of consideration. It goes as far as even ignoring Scripture provided by the other party. Thus, they are actually defending and promoting their own views than seeking and sharing the truths of God’s Word.
Throughout Scripture, we are told about the consequences of pride. Proverbs 16:18-19 tells us that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. We are not to boast about ourselves; if we want to boast, then we are to proclaim the glories of God. What we say about ourselves means nothing in God’s work. It is what God says about us that makes the difference (2 Corinthians 10:18).
Pride is taking the glory that belongs to God alone and keeping it for ourselves. Pride is essentially self-worship. Anything we accomplish in this world would not have been possible were it not for God enabling and sustaining us. “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). That is why we give God the glory—He alone deserves it.
The first sin in this world involved a lie told to Eve. We all know that Satan is the father of lies. Colossians 3:9 says, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” Lying is listed in 1 Timothy 1:9-11 as something practiced by the lawless. Furthermore, liars will be among those judged in the end (Revelation 21:8). In contrast, God never lies (Titus 1:2). He is the source of truth. “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).
Jesus called Himself the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and He expects those who follow Him to be people of truth. The truth is to be expressed in love (Ephesians 4:15), offering hope to those seeking redemption from the lies of the world.
There are at least two instances in the Bible where lying produced a favourable result. For example, the lie the Hebrew midwives tell Pharaoh seems to result in the Lord’s blessing on them (Exodus 1:15-21), and it probably saved the lives of many Hebrew babies. Another example is Rahab’s lie to protect the Israelite spies in Joshua 2:5. It is important to note, however, that God never condones these lies. Despite the “positive” outcome of these lies, the Bible nowhere praises the lies themselves. The Bible nowhere states that there are instances where lying is the right thing to do.
The question then remains: is there ever a time when lying is the right thing to do?
In an instance such as the above, where lying may be the only possible way to prevent a horrible evil, perhaps lying would be an acceptable thing to do. it must however be noted that such instances are extremely rare. It is highly likely that the vast majority of people in human history have never faced a situation in which lying was the right thing to do. To lie to keep yourself out of trouble (which you most probably got yourself into), is nothing but blatant sin. Also, if I know that my colleague has an affair and I keep quiet about it, I am just as guilty of living a lie as he is. It might cause his wife a great deal of sorrow to hear the truth, but would cause even more pain if she only finds out at a later stage.
3. LACK OF DISCERNMENT
It means “to distinguish, to separate out by diligent search, to examine.” Discernment is the ability to properly discriminate or make determinations. A discerning mind demonstrates wisdom and insight that go beyond what is seen and heard. For example, God’s Word is “spiritually discerned.” To the human mind without the Spirit, the things of God are “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Spirit, then, gives us spiritual discernment.
Paul prayed for believers “to discern what is best . . . until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10). Seeking discernment is a goal for all who desire to walk righteously: “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9).
We are commanded to “hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). But, unless we have true discernment, how can we determine what is “evil” and what is “good”? In order to maintain the purity of the gospel, the church must distinguish truth from heresy. Wisdom also demands that we properly discriminate between what is “best” and what is merely “good.”
Way too many times we do not apply our discernment when we are emotional, under pressure, too pride or even bounded by things of this world. A good example is where we enter into debt for something we do not really need, so we can boast. When those instalments become too heave to pay, we are quick to expect from God to help us overcoming our financial difficulty.
Another mistake so often made is the cover-up meme of “don’t judge.” If we do not judge (fairly), how would we prevent throwing or peals to the swines? How will we be able to avoid and warn others against false teachers and prophets? Doesn’t the Bible teaches us to love what God loves and to hate what God hates?.
4. SEEKING THE FAVOUR OF MEN
Galatians 1:10 clearly states that we should seek to please God, rather than men. “ For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
Off course, this does not mean that we should not do good to others. In fact, the Bible instructs us to do good works as a result of our salvation and change of heart. But the question to ask oneself is: “What is my motive in doing what I am doing?”
We all know some people in church who always cluck around the pastor, believing that they are his “elect” and feeling so good about it. On Facebook, these people “like” every single post their pastor makes and everybody else knows that they are faking. The sad thing is that most pastors allow them to do so as it in turn also makes them feel somewhat important. Not to forget about the lady who doesn’t walk straight to the kitchen to drop her contribution for tea and sandwiches after church. No, with the tray in her hand, she first needs to greet everybody and receives her praise.
And talking about Facebook (and other forms of social media). There is nothing wrong if a pastor or evangelist shares news about his gathering or sermon. But there should at least be limits to it as well. Some of them are openly fishing for complements by posting tons of photos after each even. Does this really advance our Father’s business?
Matthew 6: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5. SKEWED PRIORITIES AND UNDER THE LAW
There is no conflict between grace and the Law, properly understood. Christ fulfilled the Law on our behalf and offers the power of the Holy Spirit, who motivates a regenerated heart to live in obedience to Him (Matthew 3:8; Acts 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:14). James 2:26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” A grace that has the power to save also has the power to motivate a sinful heart toward godliness. Where there is no impulse to be godly, there is no saving faith.
Conflict between “grace” and the “Law” can arise when someone 1) misunderstands the purpose of the Law; 2) redefines grace as something other than “God’s benevolence on the undeserving” (see Romans 11:6); 3) tries to earn his own salvation or “supplement” Christ’s sacrifice; 4) follows the error of the Pharisees in tacking manmade rituals and traditions onto his doctrine; or 5) fails to focus on the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
We often see how some Christians would go overboard about a secondary issue and at the end cause more division in the Body of Christ than doing good. As an example, for days they would rather hammer on the pagan history of Christmas and Easter, that focussing on God. In the meantime, those who do celebrate these days do so to the honour of God. Do we not often cause others to stumble by acting this way?
In Colossians 2:16-17, the apostle Paul declares, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Similarly, Romans 14:5 states, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”
6. RITUALS AND TRADITIONS
In this regard, the church to which a person belongs is playing a key influential role. One of the best examples is the Roman Catholic Church. Like slaves, their followers blindly participate in rituals and traditions, which are clearly abominations to God.
But they are not the only ones. Within the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, so much emphasis is placed on the importance of things that the eye could see, that most of their followers put more trust in all of these things, than putting their trust in the power of fervent prayer and in God himself. Does the oil on their door and window frames really guarantee extra protection against demons and evil spirits? Didn’t Jesus taught His disciples to pray “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one?” No one needed to fall backwards in the congregation either, when healing took place.
7. SEEKING FOR “WORLDLY” BLESSINGS
Although the Bible teaches that we should rather seek for the things in heaven, many Christians measure their standing with God in terms of “worldly” blessings. What they do not understand is that God sometimes gives people over to their own desires when their focus is on all other things except on Him only. Furthermore, this makes Satan’s work so much easier as he do no longer have to put in a lot of effort to draw them away from God.
Here, the prosperity preachers play a huge role. Spiritual promises and promises of basic provision are twisted into worldly promises of wealth, health and success. Nowhere in God’s Word does He promise that Christians would have an easy and trouble free life on earth. To the contrary, He expects us to take up our crosses and says that we would go through tests, trials, and tribulations.
A few examples of promises and blessings often being twisted include the following. God promised that all things will work out for good for His children (Romans 8:28). This is the broader picture that keeps us from being dismayed by present circumstances. God promised to finish the work He started in us (Philippians 1:6). God does nothing in half measures. He started the work in us, and He will be sure to complete it. God promised to supply our needs (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19). Not that we get everything we want, but our needs will be taken care of.
8. DENYING GOD’S ATTRIBUTES
Many have created a “love-only” Jesus for themselves. They avoid all other attributes of God. They choose not to admit that God is also holy, that He is just and righteous, and that He hates sin. They believe that all would go to heaven because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. They call being obedient and bearing fruit because of one’s salvation, legalism and say that they are no longer under the law. This is their way of covering up their love for the things of the flesh and the things of this world.
And then you also have a group which could just not come to terms with God’s sovereignty. They just could not accept that God created men for His own pleasure and does as He pleases. They refuse to accept that God’s next move is never dependant on men’s choices of will.
God’s sovereignty is a natural consequence of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Every part of man is in bondage to sin – our bodies, our minds, and our wills. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the state of man’s heart: it is “deceitful and desperately wicked.” In our natural, unregenerate state, we are carnally minded, not spiritually minded.
The foundation on which God’s elect stand is a perfect one: nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it (Eccl. 3:14). Here, then, is the highest and grandest display of the absolute sovereignty of God. Verily, He has “mercy on whom He will have mercy, and, whom He will He hardeneth” (Rom. 9:18).
9. PRIVATE LITTLE PLEASURES
Christians often think of their private little pleasures as little secrets that would not “hurt” anybody. For example – Is it not better to watch pornography on the computer late at night, rather than entering into an affair outside of your marriage? Unfortunately not. Matthew 5:28 says with good reason: “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Should we not live holy lives?
10. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE DEVIL
Some Christians overrate the power of Satan and give him way too much “credit.” Yes, he is running around like a roaring lion, always wantpng to steal, kill and destroy. BUT – He can do nothing if God does not allow him to. Furthermore, he needs to make use of his demons, bad spirits and the ungodly to do his dirty work, as he is not omni-present.
It would be incorrect to believe that God created Satan with sin already present in him. God is holy and does not create anything that is contrary to His own nature (Psalm 86:8–10; 99:1–3; Isaiah 40:25; 57:15).
But there are several times in Scripture that God uses Satan or the demons to carry out His purposes. For example, God sends Satan to Job in order to test and purify Job.
There are also the following examples:
1kings 22:21-23 “Finally, a spirit came foreward, stood before the Lord and said, “I will entice him.’
“By what means?”, the Lord asked.
“‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said.
“You will succeed in enticing him”, said the Lord. “Go and do it”
“So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
Judges 9:23 – “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech.”
1Samuel 16:14 -” Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him”.
When something is going wrong, the first one to blame is Satan. Very seldom do we acknowledge that God sometimes allow things to happen to us with a purpose. Maybe He wants us to grow in faith, maybe He wants us to realize our dependence on His grace and mercy. Perhaps He needs to remind us about the importance of prayer again. But instead, we look the other way and believe we have the power to “bind” Satan.