By David Faust
If a professional athlete cheats, ESPN covers the story. CNN and Fox News are there with cameras when a public official gets arrested or a Hollywood celebrity files for divorce. If a school teacher or a church elder commits adultery, social media buzzes with news of the scandal.
Some sins, however, don’t make headlines even though they are socially destructive and spiritually deadly. We keep them to ourselves—if we acknowledge them at all. It’s easier to bemoan the sin of a faraway movie star than to face our own battles with gossip and lust.
God’s prophets didn’t hesitate to mention these overlooked sins. The following examples from Isaiah 5 won’t let us off the hook:
Sins of greed. “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land” (v. 8). Loneliness is not restricted to a particular social class, nor is greed. The poor should not assume that money alone will solve all of their problems, and the wealthy should ask themselves honest questions: How many homes does a person really need? How much real estate is enough? It’s fine to own things, but it’s bad when things own you.
Sins of intemperance. “Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine” (v. 11). Why would anyone joke about excessive drinking or brag about it on social media? “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks” (v. 22). The Bible warns about excessive eating as well, but when is the last time you heard a sermon on gluttony?
Sins of deceit. “Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes” (v. 18). The ancient rabbis said that an evil inclination is at first a thin string like a hair, but eventually it becomes strong like a cart rope. Lying may seem like a harmless deed, but in the end it destroys families, weakens business relationships, discredits leaders, and dishonors the God of truth.
Sins of impatience. “Woe . . . to those who say, ‘Let God hurry; let him hasten his work so we may see it’” (vv. 18, 19). Even God himself doesn’t move fast enough to satisfy an impatient person!
Sins of redefinition. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (v. 20).
Sins of arrogance. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (v. 21).
Sins of injustice. “Woe to those . . . who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent” (vv. 22, 23).
We don’t like to talk about certain sins, especially when they are our sins. It’s easy to highlight someone else’s failings, but what about our own? Thankfully God has provided forgiveness through the sacrifice of Christ. He reaches out to sinners with the gracious invitation, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). God’s grace—now that’s something to talk about!
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for August 30, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Esther 5, 6
Esther 7, 8
Esther 9, 10
Isaiah 1, 2