One evening, as I prepared dinner, I heard the kitchen faucet dripping. I fiddled with the handle and it stopped. I noticed it again the next day, and again I fiddled with the handle and it stopped.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Over the next few days, the faucet’s drip continued to increase. It took more and more “fiddling” with the handle before it finally ceased.
Then one morning one of my kids heard dripping, not in the kitchen, but in the basement. He ran up the basement stairs and into the kitchen to get me. I followed him and soon saw the basement’s ceiling tiles saturated with water and a steady stream running down the walls onto the carpet below.
What began as a little drip of water soon became a big shower which rained down and caused damage to our basement.
Sounds a lot like the sin in our lives, doesn’t it?
Sin Isn’t So Little
We often see what we think are little sins in our life and overlook them. We might try to manage them. We may pretend they aren’t even there. In reality, there’s no such thing as a little sin, and soon what seems like a small thing becomes a big thing in our hearts.
A little problem with binge watching a show every night might reveal a big problem with the idol of comfort.
A little overworking may reflect a deeply rooted idol of success or achievement.
A little sarcastic remark might hide a deeper problem of bitterness or envy or pride.
A little comparison quickly grows into envy and discontentment.
A little gossip soon develops into discord and disunity.
Even more, in the eyes of God, there is no such thing as little sin. That’s because sin is sin. God is holy and righteous, and nothing that is not holy and righteous can stand before Him. Even one sin is enough to keep us from His presence. And when you consider the fact that we sin not just once, but countless times a day, our problem with sin is no little thing at all. As R.C. Sproul wrote,
Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. . . . The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. . . . It is an insult to His holiness.1
Further, sin never stays little. Like a weed, it grows; it spreads and multiplies. “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). It produces offspring of other sins. Like an invasive vine, it twists itself around our hearts, choking out life. And like a vine-covered forest, it blocks us from the Light of Life. Indeed, sin left unattended or ignored destroys everything in its path.
Take All Sin Seriously
Thankfully, we were home that day when the kitchen sink’s leak spread to the basement. Had we not, the damage would have been much worse. Any leak in a house is serious, even a small one. Likewise, in our spiritual lives, there is no such thing as a small sin. We must take all sin seriously. As the Puritan preacher John Owen warned, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
The apostle Paul referred to killing sin as “putting off” sin. Like taking off an article of clothing, he taught us to “put off” sin and “put on” righteousness. He instructed the Colossian church,
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1–3)
Through faith in Christ we are united to Him in his perfect life, death, and resurrection. This means we died with Christ to our old life and have risen to new life in him. We are now new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, we are to put off the old self; we are to crucify and put to death our sin (Gal. 5:24). Paul then lists some of those sins we need to “put off,” including idolatry, anger, and falsehood (see Col. 3:5–9).
Elsewhere, Paul tells us how we put sin to death: through the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). The Holy Spirit brings our dead hearts to life and gives us a heart of flesh. He works in us to put sin to death and to produce in us the fruit of righteousness (Gal. 5:22–23). He convicts us of our sin, draws us to repentance, trains us in obedience, and teaches us to depend upon God’s grace for all things. His weapon of choice is the Word of God. As we read and study the Bible, God sanctifies us by it (John 17:17), for it is active and alive as it discerns the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Heb. 4:12).
Perhaps if I had realized immediately the significance of the little drip at my sink, it wouldn’t have spread to the basement. How much truer is that of sin! There is no such thing as a little sin. We can’t underestimate its destructive power in our lives. May we seek and yield to the Spirit’s help in recognizing and killing our sin—no matter how small it seems.