The Subtlety of Sin

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.” (1 Peter 5:8a NLT)

One of the definitions of “subtle” in Webster’s dictionary is: “working insidiously; not easily detected.”  Sounds like satan to me. The Apostle Peter warns: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9a NLT)

What is the greatest enemy of our soul? What nailed our Savior to the Cross? What is it that if not dealt with through the forgiveness of the Lord will not only separate us from Him, but from one another? Sin! And through what avenue will sin rear its ugly head more often than any other? Through our preferences! We like what we like, we want what we want, and we don’t like it if we don’t get our way.

But aren’t we delivered from all of that when we’re saved? The Lord Jesus paid the full penalty for our sin on the Cross, but the appropriation of that saving grace isn’t a one-prayer-for-life proposition. Jesus gave us everything we’ll ever need (His Spirit) to defeat the enemy, but as long as we’re in this body of flesh we’re susceptible to sin. What’s the answer?

Photo by Petr Ganaj on

Who is the roaring lion most often looking for? That straggler, the stray, the one who has wandered away from the “flock.” Church attendance isn’t simply a privilege we too often take for granted, it’s a lifeline of defense against the enemy. Small Groups aren’t simply a good idea, they’re my fellow soldiers with whom I prepare for battle. They’re the ones with whom I plan my strategy and build my defense, not just against satan, but against the sinful subtleties that lurk in my own soul, that I may never recognize unless and until someone I love and trust points them out to me.

Perhaps the most subtle threat to our walk with the Lord is when the devil has us believing we’re a good person. In Matthew 19 and Mark 10 there is a story of a rich man who comes to Jesus and he says: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus responds, “Why do you call my good?…Only God is truly good.”

That troubled me for some time because I thought, if anyone has the right to accept someone’s evaluation of Him as good, it was Jesus. But I believe what the Lord was emphasizing was, no one is good apart from the presence of the goodness of the Father in them. Thus, the goodness displayed through our lives isn’t an expression of our goodness, but the goodness of the Father, for which none of us can take credit.

We’ll look at this further tomorrow.

Blessings, Ed 😊

3 thoughts on “The Subtlety of Sin

  1. Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!


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