5 Secret Sins That Are Ruining Your Church

I bet there’s a lot more going on inside your heart and head than meets the eye.

Every human being is born with a sin nature, and the majority of us walk around on earth trying to hide it from each other. It’s a little silly if you really think about it. Something we literally all deal with on a daily basis that is in an outright war with the Spirit of God within us, and we like to pretend we have it all under control?

The church is a disaster zone of people trying to pretend they have it all under control.

Every. Human. Being. is born with a sin nature. And you should be able to see it. Here’s a news flash: if you can’t see someone’s sin nature, they are probably hiding it intentionally. And it is those of us who hide our sin intentionally that are ruining the church.

We ruin the church with our…

Anger

When the smallest things set you off, you are quick to anger like James 1:19-20 warns about. He says, “…human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Anger can feel good in the moment, like something was wrong and the angry outburst evened the playing field. We tend to lash out in anger when we feel attacked, defensive, offended, or irritated. And that anger can range in intensity and long term damage on our own hearts and the hearts of the people around us.

Anger is not always a sin, but habitual flashes of anger generally are. Your anger may be under tight control, but what leaks out is vile. Your anger may come on and leave in an instant, but what you do in that instant is not honoring God at all. Your anger may burn slow and hot, leaving the residue of resentment on everything and everyone you touch.

I have been here. Your sin of anger is ruining your church, even if no one in your church is aware of it. Those flashes of anger reveal a cesspool of sin in your heart, and “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”according to Luke 6:45. May God break your heart and burden you with godly sorrow over your sin.

 
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LUST

This is an area that Satan has been working quietly for a long time and we are uncovering decade’s worth of sin as they are brought to light. As can be seen in the news frequently, we have cultivated an environment in which leaders have too much power and too much privacy, leading to a slew of sexual abuse scandals. If unchecked lust is this much of an issue in Christian leadership, how much more do you think it is a problem in the men and women of the congregation?

Sexual arousal and/or orgasm is an easy filler for when we feel discontent with life. It’s a simple way to temporarily feel better, and humanity is historically all about temporarily feeling better. In us, the church, that looks like masturbation and pornography. It looks like fooling around, sexual activity, intercourse, and living with unmarried significant others. It looks like binging on sexualized music, videos, and literature. It looks like self-soothing feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, shame, stress, and fear with the bandaid of sex.

I. Have. Been. Here.

Your secret indulgence into the sin of lust is ruining your church. Satan is telling you that it affects only you, but that is a lie from the pit of hell. Lust is black mold, the silent killer, rotting us from the inside out.

I pray that God would use his living Word to pierce your heart and drive you to the end of yourself and into the light.

Bitterness

Hebrews 12:14-15 says “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness is a sin that grows in our relationships with each other like weeds. If we don’t diligently and consistently pull it out, it will overrun our lives.

When we have frienemies, those people we love to hate, and we allow the offenses and irritation to consume us, that’s bitterness. When we fixate on something that hurt us or we don’t think is fair, and we refuse to let God heal those wounds, that’s bitterness. The focus on what THAT PERSON did to ME is where bitterness lives.

I have let those weeds run rampant, friend, and let me tell you from one easily embittered person to another: your bitterness is ruining the church. It grows in between the members of the body until none of them are relying on and trusting each other the way they need to in order to function properly. It fosters shallow relationships and shifts our focus off of God and onto self.

I’m praying that your heart would be broken and you’d give those offenses to God.

Pride

Pride isolates you from the people around you, and isolation is one of Satan’s favorite tactics. Whether you think so highly of yourself that you dismiss all criticism or you know how sinful you are and yet refuse to submit to God’s prompting, pride can look many different ways and yet it always results in a heart far from the truth.

This is going to be a blanket statement: if you aren’t regularly putting the sin of pride to death in your heart, that is a good indication that you are indulging it. Did you catch that? I’ll say that again. If you are not actively confronting the sin of pride, you are most likely indulging the sin of pride. It’s just that common.

I must hide it well, because I’ve had several people scoff when I say that pride is a huge problem for me. But I know my own heart. Let me tell you, it’s desperately wicked just like yours. For me, pride looks like a desire for respect and influence, trying to maintain a good image, and wanting to do all the right things. None of those are bad in and of themselves, are they? But the problem is that perfect, influential, godly person isn’t the real human being. And a fake persona can’t truly honor God. My perception of myself needs to be repeatedly brought down to reality to keep me in check.

Suffice it to say I’ve been here, and I can tell you that pride is ruining your church. I’m praying that the Holy Spirit trains you in the beautiful practice of dying to self over and over and over again daily.

Greed

Like every other sin, greed looks different in every heart and life. It could be money or stuff that you treasure, or it could be status. Greed is all about acquiring more. Solomon says “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). There’s lots in the Bible warning about loving and trusting in money, and I believe it is both a high and low income problem. You could have plenty of money, give to the church regularly and still be putting your security in that instead of God. You could also have not quite enough to get by and desperately hoard every dollar like that is the only thing that matters in this life. Both could be traced back to greed.

When we feel that craving for the next thing, be it a purchase, a paycheck, or a position, that is greed. When we measure our success by possessions and accomplishments, that is greed. We don’t need MORE of anything but God. The way to wipe out greed is to lay all of your needs and desires at his feet in surrender.

I have been here so many times. And believe it or not, your greed is ruining your church. May God convict and encourage and discipline and love until you find your security in him.

ok so what now?

Have I discouraged you? That wasn’t my intention. Let me tell you, friend, there is grace for us. Jesus has provided everything we need to effectively deal with sin, and the body of Christ is a great place to do just that!

The church is meant to serve, teach, help, instruct, lean on and encourage each other. We are meant to build each other up and pull each other along as we stumble after Christ together. Sins like these will drive in division, selfishness, petty arguments, isolation, and as the generations go by take a huge toll on our ability to function as a body.

First step to dealing with sin is always prayer and repentance. Confess to God what has been growing in your life and ask him for the opportunity and grace to confess your sin to a safe person who will support you in that sanctification process. God is pretty awesome at giving us the things we need to glorify himself, so expect an answer.

Second step is to confess that sin to another believer out of obedience to God (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9). Make sure that person is not a predator, a gossip, or an enabler. You need someone who will take your sin seriously and understand why it is important to deal with it. Confessing sin is hard. Satan will tell you all sorts of fancy lies about how it isn’t that big of a deal, or if anyone knew your life would never be the same, or it’s fine to keep it just between you and God. Don’t believe that snake.

Third step is to live in accountability. I like calling it intrusive accountability because it should be people who will keep you out of the shadows. Don’t assume that sin won’t sneak back in, because it will. But the Holy Spirit is working on your heart, you have opened it up and invited him to renew your mind and cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and he is going to do it. You’ll probably just need some people to hold your hand. Ask God to provide for you in this too. He WILL.

 
 
Beth Nyhart1 Comment