Big sins are built on the backs of a thousand little sins. Sequoia sins like murder, adultery, embezzlement, apostasy, or fraud don’t grow overnight. They arise out of a thousand lies you tell yourself. A thousand minor compromises. A thousand squints at the clear lines of God’s law. A thousand fudging of the numbers in our moral accounting books.
Imagine roaring down the highway at night, in an unfamiliar area, and suddenly right ahead of you is a paper sign across the road. The font is tiny, and to make things worse the font is Comic Sans, but it reads: “Bridge Out!” As you careen to your death in the icy river below, you won’t be thinking to yourself, “What a legalistic sign!”
Rather, if you’re careening towards such danger, you want to have warning signs up ten miles down the road. You want flashing lights. You want a sign that lights up with a big orange glow, visible from Pluto, when your headlights hit it. You want signs to warn you if you start hurtling down the path towards disaster.
King David once prayed, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression (Psa. 19:13).” Are there sins of resentment which you are treasuring up? Are you telling yourself lies about your motives for hanging out with certain friends? Have you justified watching some questionable movies under the pretense of “understanding the culture”? Have you cut corners at your job? Have you gone to bed angry at your spouse, or kids, or others?
If you feel the prick of conviction from those questions, remember that that conviction is a road sign, warning of a calamitous fall awaiting those who recklessly and willfully plow forward. A disastrous fall will come to the haughty man who refuses to heed the warning sign; but grace, upon grace, upon grace is given to the humble man who repents and flees from the little sins, and thus is kept from great sins.