All of us tend to put sins into categories. Sins like murder, adultery, theft, and violence we put in the “atrocious” category. We are a bit afraid of them because like a pride of lions, they will tear us apart, ruin our life, and possibly even kill us.
Next we have anger, slander, cursing, and lying. We wag our finger at them and say they are bad. While we know they can do damage we find ourselves indulging in them from time to time anyway.
Then we have sins like gluttony, improper joking, procrastination, impatience and wasting time and money, as well as sins of the mind like envy, lust and mean thoughts. We are not afraid of these sins. They seem to be no trouble. As a matter of fact, we often keep these sins as pets.
Pet sins are those sins we believe we have domesticated. We view them as small and insignificant. We don’t fight against them, we feed them, and in some ways they make us feel good. But there is no such things as domesticated sin. All sin, even our “pet sins” are dangerous.
1. Pet sins grow into dangerous monsters
Remember the movie Gremlins from the 80s? That little mogwai was the cutest little thing until it came into contact with water (which caused it to multiply) or was fed after midnight, which turned it into a destructive monster.
The sins that we indulge may appear tame and harmless for a while, but at some point they will turn on us. At first they may disturb our peace or mess with our conscience, but eventually they multiply, rise up against us and wreak havoc.
Envy can lead to constant unhappiness, malicious words about and to others, anger, and then theft. Lust can lead to adultery and the ruin of a family. Laziness can lead to relationship difficulties, loss of job, and poverty. "Little" sins have the potential of growing into something that will wound us and others. All pet sins eventually grow up.
Sin aims always at the utmost ... Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could, every thought of unbelief would be atheism if allowed to develop...The deceitfulness of sin is seen in that it is modest in its first proposals but when it prevails it hardens mens’ hearts, and brings them to ruin.
2. Pet sins have a way of getting out
As a teenager I lived in the French speaking country of Mali. While there I had a french tutor who was an older, very eccentric, french woman. I always felt a bit nervous about going over to her house because I was convinced that she had a wild cat as a pet. My fear was always that the chain which was suppose to hold it would not be secure enough and it would come after me when I left. Pet's have a way of escaping. Even our turtles managed to escape and end up at our neighbors’ house.
Pet sins will get out as well. No matter how hard we try to hide them or lock them away. Surgeon reminds us that the evil bird will sing in the company of others. It’s just a matter of time. When this happens it’s not just a cause for embarrassment, but it mars our character and often hurts those around us, sometimes breaking relationships and destroying responsibilities. More then that it dishonors God.
3. Pet Sins take Christ for granted
We say that Christ’s blood is precious but our pet sins tell a different story. They say that we don’t find the blood of Christ all that valuable and that we are not that moved by his sacrifice on the cross. If we see our sins as small, we will see Christ’s sacrifice as small. Love for Christ will grow in relationship to our understanding of the evil of sin, for he who has been forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:36-50).
“Sin is a clenched fist and a blow in the face of God.”
- Joseph Parker
4. Pet Sins Can be overcome
Having a jar of delicious chocolate chip cookies on the counter is torture and dangerous for someone with a sweet tooth. Its pretty much impossible for me to resist them (or anything made of chocolate). If I need to stay away from them the best thing for me is to not even make or buy them.
The difficulty with the sins we love is that we have a really hard time resisting them. While we may perceive them as small, they are powerful and ensnare us whether we like it or not. Therefore in order to overcome these sins we need to learn how to resist them.
First we need to ask God to examine our hearts and point out to us if we have any harmful ways in us (Ps. 139:23,24). Then we need to go on the attack. This is hard work, but we have been given an armor (Eph 6) and we would do well to study it and to learn how to wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The more adept we become at wielding this sword the more successful we will be in killing these pet sins, that will one day betray us and cause us great harm and insult the blood of Christ.
We all desire to be wise, but the keeping of pet sins is dangerous and foolish.
Sin is an untamable beast and must not be underestimated. We are not strong enough to keep it as a pet or kill it in our own strength. But Jesus has overcome them all and has given us the power to overcome them as well.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 15:56-57