The Personality of Sin
Have you ever wondered why you are more vulnerable to certain types of temptation than to others? Have you ever wondered why your sin diagnosis looks different from that of a friend or a family member? Why does your problem happen to be with this sin and not that?
Each of us has a unique personality, and our personality type predisposes us more to certain kinds of sin than to other kinds. By understanding our personality type, then, we can better predict what kinds of temptation might most easily waylay us. We all are born with a sin nature, but the way in which our innate sinfulness is manifested will vary based upon at least three areas affecting our personality.
The first factor is our family environment—what kind of home we grew up in. It may seem that our childhood was a long time ago. But because childhood experiences happen at a formative time in our lives, they can exert an influence upon us for the rest of our lives, whether for good or for ill. They help to determine our sin diagnosis.
A second factor helping to determine our particular tendencies to sin is our individual temperament. The many factors of temperament can influence how our sin nature expresses itself.
A third factor that affects our sin diagnosis is the impact of external events. You have been through a unique series of experiences in the course of your years, and they have contributed to making you who you are. How have these experiences affected your spiritual health? External events build upon the foundation of family environment and temperament to set the pattern for sin susceptibility.
“Know thyself” is an ancient maxim of philosophy. It is good advice in many areas of life, not least in applying the soul prescription to your sin problem. Take some time to ask God for insight into yourself, to think through your personality history, and to get the opinions of those who know you best so that you can use your personality as a clue to your sin diagnosis.
As we continue in our investigation of sin sickness, we will learn that if we do not deal with our sins early on in their development, they have a way of gathering more sins and worse sins. They snowball. Or maybe it is more like an avalanche!
The Problem with “Little” Sins
Often there is an accumulation and the escalation of sin in a person’s life. A good example of this type of pattern would be in the life of King David.
When we think of David and sin, our minds often jump immediately to Bathsheba. But perhaps David’s first sin in that period of his life was irresponsibility, as he chose not to go to war with his troops. Then he entertained lust as he ogled the bathing Bathsheba. This led swiftly to adultery when he had sex with the neighbor woman. Then he practiced deception in trying to get Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to sleep with her so as to account for her pregnancy. Finally, he arranged for Uriah’s murder. (See 2 Samuel 11:1-15 for the whole story.)
That’s how little sins grow into big ones. For David, the sequence of events led to a dramatic change for the worse in his fortunes. His family life and kingship were never the same again.
Many of us are like David, thinking we can safely dabble in little sins. Foolish! Sin is sin. It is always serious. It always erects a barrier between us and God. And any sin can become a beachhead for others, affecting not only ourselves but also others in a myriad of harmful ways. The ripples of sin spread and grow.
Dabbling soon becomes outright indulgence. Invariably, if a Christian has seemed to take a sudden fall into sin, a closer inspection will show that the person had for some time been flirting with sin before openly courting it.
If you want to keep your sins from multiplying like cancer cells and growing like monsters in a nightmare, you need to act soon and act decisively. The earlier in the process of sin growth you act, the easier spiritual healing will be. However well developed the sin in your life has become, whether your sins are “small” or “large,” it is best to act today rather than tomorrow. Never forget the way that sins have of getting worse and more numerous.
Since we never get past the danger of temptation, we never get past the need for vigilance and prevention of those sins to which we are prone.