It gets easier to sin the more you do it.
Let me clarify in case you wonder what I mean by ‘easier’. I mean that there is less conviction or guilt with each occurrence and therefore we find it it ‘easier’ to continue in our behavior.
Perhaps the most tangible example I can give is that of lying. Actually, we tend to not think of the sort of lying that I’m talking about as ‘lying’ per se. Perhaps we would prefer the term ‘fibbing’. A moment where perhaps we don’t tell the whole truth. I call them snowball lies myself. Snowball lies start out with something small. I say ‘small’ because they usually feel either inconsequential or even more appropriate than telling the full truth.
For example, perhaps your wife has had a rough day when she comes home. The last thing you want to do is is show her the unexpected bill that came in the mail that day. After all, the bill will be there tomorrow and will have different meaning for her after a good night’s sleep. Seems harmless right? Okay, so what happens if she asks if you and the family can go out for dinner that night instead of cooking, and you know your budget is tight enough that the bill changes the answer to that question? What do you do then?
I would suggest that the minute your wife comes home and you think to tell her about the bill and don’t for the reason already given, you have sold out. You’ve sold out to putting one value over another. You’ve convinced yourself that because you love your wife and want to make her happy, there are times when it is appropriate to hide things from her. Make no mistake, if you know about it and she doesn’t, you’re hiding it from her. You have decided that sometimes happiness is more important than honesty in a marriage.
Okay so I know that last bit sounds harsh. Of course you’re not trying to intentionally deceive your wife. On the contrary, you feel you are caring for her the best way that you know how and I guess that’s the point that I’m trying to make: Snowball lies will never appear like real lies and will even resonate as being the most ‘moral’ option at times. This is why they have the potential to become like a snowball rolling down the hill, picking up size and speed over time.
Rebekah had this problem. She believed Jacob to be the chosen one. Let’s go ahead and give her that one for a moment. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Jacob was the one whom God wanted to receive Isaac’s blessing. She knew this and also knew that Isaac couldn’t help but love Esau more. Isaac was, in her mind, blinded from seeing what God wanted because of his partiality toward Esau. So what does she do? She ‘helps’ him make the right decision.
In her mind, this is justified. Not only is Isaac not able to see his error, but as his wife, it is actually her responsibility to correct him. So there she is – convinced that action must be taken. It’s important enough that it needs to be done by any means necessary, so she convinces Jacob to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing instead. Jacob has some objections at first, but Rebekah is convicted and ready to take responsibility if it goes wrong…
But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice… – Genesis 27:11-13
Of course, this is pure nonsense. How can she take responsibility? Everyone involved is old enough to know that we’re all responsible for our own actions. When Esau finds out, it causes such a family uproar that it is Jacob, not Rebekah, who has to flee at once and live somewhere else. Meanwhile, the snowball is still growing, and Rebekah has to explain why Isaac has left. She blames it on the selection of women among whom they live. She points out the wisdom of Isaac living somewhere else. She probably isn’t even thinking of this as a cover-up at this point. She is actually probably convinced now that it truly is the best thing for Jacob. “Perhaps” she thinks to herself, “Perhaps this whole thing went wrong because God wanted Jacob to leave and this was the way he chose to orchestrate its happening.”
You see, in the end snowball lies don’t just get us off track, they can convince us that the track we’re on is still the right one. The Bible tells us that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). However, we should understand that to mean that God works in spite of our mistakes, not that God wants us to make them so he can work through them. In other words, God can be glorified in spite of our sin, but we never glorify him when we sin.
In our lives, we will have many opportunities to make clear choices about right and wrong. However, we will daily have many more choices that seem to be slightly more nuanced because of their circumstances. It’s not just lying, it’s the everyday things that we all struggle with. Paul explains a few of these things to the churches…
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. – 2 Corinthians 12:20
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. – Ephesians 5:4
Let’s not sacrifice our moral integrity on the altar of pragmatism and ‘being real’. Let’s not condition ourselves to be immune to conviction by a pattern of behavior that weakens its effect. Let’s be children of light who walk convinced of a higher calling.