Category Archives: Sin

HOW CAN I avoid ENABLing SOMEONE’S ELSE SIN?

To “enable” sin is to embolden someone to continue in sin, to empower his ability to sin, or to make it easier for him to sin. In our stand for righteousness, we want to avoid enabling the sins of others. Human relationships can be complex, and there are many situations that can lead to involuntary participation in the sin of another. In a marriage, one spouse can be drawn into sin in an effort to appease the other. Friends and family are the avenues that Satan often uses to entice us to participate in a sin we would otherwise avoid (1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 22:24). However, no one has the power to make another person sin. Sin is a condition of the heart (Matthew 15:18–19). And we are each responsible for the choices we make and the condition of our own hearts (Romans 14:12; Matthew 12:36).

Enabling someone’s sin is the same as indirectly taking part in that sin, and 1 Timothy 5:22 says, “Do not participate in the sins of others.” If the Bible has a command, we have the power to obey it. We often do not realize that we have the right and the responsibility to set personal boundaries that honor God. Learning to set healthy boundaries for ourselves is crucial to living the victorious life Jesus wants for us (John 10:10; Romans 8:37). Boundaries define where our responsibilities start and end. The Bible is a book of boundaries, with consequences for violating them (Genesis 2:16–17; Deuteronomy 28:15; Jeremiah 22:5; 1 Samuel 12:15). When we know the boundaries, we are responsible for enforcing them. For example, if a friend insists that you drive the getaway car in a robbery, you don’t have to decide. The decision was made when you first chose to follow Christ. Jesus says stealing is wrong, so you will not enable theft. Participation in sin is not an option for a Christian (Romans 6:1–2; 1 John 3:9).

Avoiding sin requires that we seek wisdom from God. Fortunately, we have the promise of James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” When we receive God’s wisdom about a situation, our responsibility is to move forward on the basis of that wisdom. One way to gain courage in making right decisions is to ask ourselves what we would do if Jesus were standing right beside us. If we would not move forward with Jesus, then it is not the right decision, regardless of who is urging us to participate.

One way we enable the sin of others is by rescuing them from their rightful consequences. God uses consequences to teach us lessons we would not otherwise learn. When a parent bails a rebellious son out of jail, that parent is enabling the rebellion to continue. When a Christian allows his friends to talk him into going to a place he knows will lead to sinful behavior, he is participating in the sin of others. We give others freedom to make their own choices, but we must also allow them to reap the consequences of those choices (Galatians 6:7). We often enable the sin of others because of a false sense of compassion or because we want to be needed. But in shielding someone from the natural consequences of sin, we rob that person of the wisdom God wanted to impart to him or her. It’s never easy to see a loved one experience difficulty, but sometimes the difficulty is just what God wants to use to teach an important life lesson.

Just as others have freedom to make their own choices, we also have freedom to choose, and we can refuse to participate in the sin of others. Many times we allow ourselves to be pulled into someone else’s sin because we fear losing the relationship. In doing so, we have allowed that person to take the place of God in our hearts. When the desire of someone else supersedes the desire of God, we have slipped into idolatry (Exodus 20:3; 34:14). We can avoid enabling someone else’s sin by making a final decision about who directs our lives. If we have given our lives to Christ, then He is the final authority on any decision (2 Corinthians 10:5; Acts 5:29). If Jesus would not make it easier for a person to sin, then we shouldn’t, either.

Prophet Nathan Emol

ENVY:

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A simple definition of envy is “to want what belongs to someone else.” A more thorough description of envy is “a resentful, dissatisfied longing for another’s possessions, position, fortune, achievements, or success.” The Bible says envy is an act of the flesh, the result of human sin: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19–21; see also Romans 1:29; 1 Peter 2:1–2).

Envy and jealousy are closely related and sometimes used interchangeably in modern Bible translations, but they are not quite synonymous. Envy is a reaction to lacking something that another person possesses. Jealousy is a reaction to the fear or threat of losing something, or often someone, we possess. Envy is the distress or resentment we feel when others have what we have not. Jealousy is the sense of dread or suspicion we feel when what we have might be taken away. There is such a thing as godly jealousy (see 2 Corinthians 11:2), but the Bible never speaks of envy in a good light.

Another word in the Bible closely associated with envy is covetousness. To covet is to have an excessive desire to possess what belongs to another. Usually related to tangible items like property, covetousness is an intense craving or selfish desire that threatens the fundamental rights of others (Exodus 20:17; Joshua 7:21).

The first bout of envy in the Bible surfaces in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain, the older brother, killed Abel out of envy because God looked with favor on the younger brother’s sacrifice but did not accept Cain’s offering (Genesis 4:3–5). Later, Esau envied his brother, Jacob, because of the blessing his father Isaac had given him (Genesis 27:41). Rachel envied her sister because Leah gave birth to Jacob’s sons while Rachel remained childless (Genesis 30:1). Saul envied David for his success in battle and his popularity among the people (1 Samuel 15:6–16). The Jewish leaders had Jesus arrested because they were seized with envy (Mark 15:10).

The Bible paints a vivid picture of envy’s devastating effects. If left to grow in one’s heart, the Bible says envy will lead to spiritual, emotional, and physical death: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). Here the New Living Translation likens envy to “cancer in the bones.” And in James 3:14–16, we find this stern warning about the sin of envy: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Envy is an issue of the heart. Jesus taught that purity and godliness come from inside a person and not from external actions (Mark 7:14–15). Envy is one of many inward vices or heart attitudes that defile a person: “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, . . . deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you” (Mark 7:20–23, NLT).

First Corinthians 13:4 states, “Love does not envy.” If we are envious of our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we do not love them. The love of Christ is void of selfish ambition and desire (Philippians 2:3–8). Christians are called to dispense with envy: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1). How do we accomplish this? Believers in Jesus Christ have died to sin and have been made alive by the Spirit of God (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3; Romans 6:7–11). In a real sense, the struggle between the sin nature and the Spirit continues, but Christians have power through the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen them in the fight.

Paul taught in Galatians 5:16–26 that, if we walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and stay in step with the Spirit, our lives will bear the fruit of the Spirit: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (verses 25–26).

The root of envy is a dissatisfied heart. We experience envy when we cannot have what our heart desires. We have not yet learned the secret of contentment (Philippians 4:10–13), of delighting ourselves in the Lord. The most effective way to avoid envy is to trust in the Lord and delight in Him: “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:3–6).

Prophet Nathan Emol

SELF PLEASURE:

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Self-gratification is the act of pleasing oneself or satisfying one’s desires. Every living creature seeks self-gratification as a matter of survival. We feel hungry, so we find food. We are thirsty, so we search for water. God has placed pleasure sensors in our brains so that we feel satisfaction at the meeting of those needs. Even the act of procreation was designed to be pleasurable. God created our sense of pleasure, so seeking its fulfillment is not wrong until the means to do so crosses a line. Knowing exactly where that line is can be tricky, but the Bible gives clear guidelines that help us identify it.

Animals live primarily for self-gratification, driven by instinct and the inner workings of the food chain. One of nature’s primary laws is “eat or be eaten.” Animals mate because of an instinct woven into their DNA by the Lord to keep the circle of life moving (Genesis 1:24). But human beings were created differently from the plants or animals. God “breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Because humanity is made in the image of God and possesses the breath of God, we are not part of the animal kingdom. We have a spirit that can reason, love, intuit, and choose to be unselfish. With our spirits, we can commune with God, who is also Spirit (Romans 8:16; Revelation 3:20). Unlike animals, we have a moral compass, and we can know right and wrong (Genesis 1:27).

The term self-gratification or self-pleasure is often used as a synonym for masturbation, but, more generally speaking, self-gratification is “living according to the flesh” (Romans 8:12–13). Our “flesh” is the selfish part of us that wants what it wants regardless of moral taboos. Self-preservation propels us to eat when we’re hungry; self-gratification suggests that we eat more than we need because it tastes good. Self-preservation drives us to build houses that keep us warm and dry; self-gratification drives us to build nicer, bigger houses than anyone else has. Self-preservation draws us to sexual union with our spouses to create intimacy and bring children into that intimacy. Self-gratification seeks the sexual act for itself, stripped from its design and purpose.

Self-gratification is sinful. Pleasing ourselves should never be the driving force of our lives. We were created to please God, not ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:31). Ultimate pleasure comes as a result of crucifying our flesh and abandoning ourselves to the higher purposes of God (Luke 9:23). Living in step with God’s Spirit makes us quicker to recognize when our desire for self-gratification comes into conflict with what the Lord desires (Galatians 5:16–25). Followers of Jesus have already made the decision about whose desires should reign (Ephesians 5:10–11). When we bow at the cross and surrender our lives to Jesus’ lordship, we lay down our rights to please ourselves. We choose instead to entrust our needs and desires to the One who loves us most (Philippians 4:19).

Those who live for self-pleasure don’t realize the source of true joy. They believe that they must meet their own needs in their own ways in order to be happy. This focus often creates an attitude of selfishness as they consider their own desires more important than the needs of others (Romans 12:3; Philippians 2:3–4). While self-pleasure may include behaving in benevolent ways, that benevolence will rarely involve personal sacrifice or putting someone else’s needs ahead of one’s own. Soon, unpleasant consequences begin to stockpile in the life of someone enslaved to his or her own desires (John 8:34; Romans 6:16). When self-gratification is god, every life choice bows in worship.

God’s remedy for a life dedicated to self-gratification is the death of our old nature (1 Peter 2:24; Romans 6:1–6). The flesh cannot be refined or reformed; it must be slain in order for us to live by the Spirit. Jesus said that, in order to know Him, we must be willing to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). And He explained why: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24). Self-denial is the opposite of self-gratification, but it results in a deeper kind of joy (Acts 5:41).

The prodigal son in Jesus’ parable was bent on self-gratification (Luke 15:11–24). He got what he wanted: money, freedom from rules, friends, and the party life. But he also got what he didn’t want: consequences. When the money ran out, so did his friends and his freedom. Reduced to working in a pig sty and craving the pigs’ food, he finally “came to his senses” (verse 17). Self-gratification was not all it was cracked up to be, and the young man went back home.

Self-denial does not mean a life without pleasure; it simply means that our gaze has shifted. Self-gratification makes decisions based on the question what do I want? Self-denial makes decisions based on what would please the Lord? Decisions without moral overtones, such as what to eat for breakfast, are left to our own preferences. Even then, everything we do should be seen as an act of worship, as our whole lives are consecrated to the glory of God.

Pleasure is a gift from God (James 1:17). When we trust God to supply all we need, we can enjoy His good gifts without guilt or reservation. The closer we get to God, the more clearly we see self-gratification as a cheap substitute that comes weighted with joy-stealing consequences. Godly gratification provides a lasting joy that includes wisdom, maturity, and a clear conscience.

Prophet Nathan Emol

GREED:

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Greed is a strong and selfish desire to have more of something, most often money or power. There are many warnings in the Bible about giving in to greed and longing for riches. Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal… You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19, 24b). Did Jesus pursue the acquisition of money? No. On the contrary, He became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9) and had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). Neither did Jesus pursue power. Rather, He instructed, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43–45).

Greed and a desire for riches are traps that bring ruin and destruction. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” and Christians are warned, “Do not put your trust in wealth” (see 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-18). Covetousness, or having an excessive or greedy desire for more, is idolatry. Ephesians 5:5 says, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” The principle to remember is contained in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

It is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of worshiping God. Jesus said it was very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (see Matthew 19:16-22). By instructing him to give up his money, Jesus pointed out the young man’s main problem: greed or a love of money. The man could not follow Christ because he was following money. His love of this world interfered with his love for God.

Greed refuses to be satisfied. More often than not, the more we get, the more we want. Material possessions will not protect us—in this life or eternally. Jesus’ parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13–21 illustrates this point well. Again, money or wealth is not a problem. The problem is our attitude toward it. When we place our confidence in wealth or are consumed by an insatiable desire for more, we are failing to give God the glory and worship He deserves. We are to serve God, not waste our time trying to become rich (Proverbs 23:4). Our heart’s desire should be to store up riches in heaven and not worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (see Matthew 6:25-34).

Prophet Nathan Emol

PRIDE:

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There is a difference between the kind of pride that God hates (Proverbs 8:13) and the kind of pride we can feel about a job well done (Galatians 6:4) or the kind of pride we express over the accomplishment of loved ones (2 Corinthians 7:4). The kind of pride that stems from self-righteousness or conceit is sin, however, 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.” This kind of haughty pride is the opposite of the spirit of humility that God seeks: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their utter spiritual bankruptcy and their inability to come to God aside from His divine grace. The proud, on the other hand, are so blinded by their pride that they think they have no need of God or, worse, that God should accept them as they are because they deserve His acceptance.

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.” Satan was cast out of heaven because of pride (Isaiah 14:12-15). He had the selfish audacity to attempt to replace God Himself as the rightful ruler of the universe. But Satan will be cast down to hell in the final judgment of God. For those who rise up in defiance against God, there is nothing ahead but disaster (Isaiah 14:22).

Pride has kept many people from accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Admitting sin and acknowledging that in our own strength we can do nothing to inherit eternal life is a constant stumbling block for prideful people. 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).

Why is pride so sinful? Pride is giving ourselves the credit for something that God has accomplished. 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.

Prophet Nathan Emol