Seemingly Harmless Sins
When the subtle serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, she knew not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, “the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil’” (Gen. 3:4-5). In other words, the serpent told Eve, “Eating of the tree is harmless!” From that day forward, Satan has been deceiving people into believing that certain sins are harmless. To illustrate, many people believe that some lies are harmless, referring to them as “little white lies.” Moreover, it seems as if many in the greater religious world believes that doctrinal sins are not nearly as threatening to God as moral sins. Thus, most rational people realize that moral sins, such as murder, adultery and stealing, are deadly sins. Yet, many sins seem harmless to many people, but are very deadly.
Notice a few examples of seemingly harmless sins in the Bible.
• In Numbers 13:32-36, a man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. This was in direct opposition to the will of God. Therefore, when they brought his case before the Lord, God sentenced him to death by stoning. Did it seem harmless to gather sticks? Sure, but it was very deadly.
• In Second Samuel 6:6-7, the ark of God was brought to Nachon’s threshingfloor on a cart drawn by a team of oxen. When the oxen shook, the ark was about to fall and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark by simply touching it. Did it seem harmless to touch the ark to steady it? Sure, but it was very deadly, because God struck Uzzah dead right on the spot. God had commanded that only Aaron’s descendants could carry the ark (Num. 4:1-15).
• In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira sold one of their possessions to give to the church, but kept back part of the price. This is what we would consider “a little white lie.” It certainly must have seemed harmless to them, since they were doing a good deed by giving a portion of the price, but it turned out to be deadly. God struck both of them dead.
• Even when Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4, his temptation to turn stones into bread seemed harmless. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
What can we learn? Just because something seems harmless in our eyes does not mean that it is satisfactory with God, because even seemingly harmless things can be very deadly. Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2), and is transgression of His law (1 John 3:4). Many people, especially young people, are deceived into thinking that if it seems harmless, it must be acceptable. Dancing seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Fondling with the opposite sex seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Gossiping seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Many sins seem harmless, but watch out! They are deadly!