6 Signs Your Sin Is Worse Than You Thought

We are a deceptive people. And selfish. Corrupt to the core. So we are bound to find ourselves sinning. This is no surprise to anyone who understands the wretched condition of mankind.

But how do we respond to our sin?

Do we run to the cross with tears streaming down our face? Do we plead with the Spirit to help us put the axe to the root of that sin? Or do we seek to justify, defend or even approve of that sin? Do we shrug and think it no big deal?

One condition leads to life. The other to death.

In his Mortification of Sin in Believers, John Owen shares six signs that indicate our sin is more dangerous that we thought–and could be leading us to death.

1. Established Habit

The sequence is the same. And it has been for weeks. Months. Maybe even years. You are preoccupied with the pattern. Getting to your sin.

Hard- or soft-core porn. Drunkenness. Lying. Violence. Astrology. Envy. Disorderly conduct. Music that shames God. Sex outside of marriage. Adultery.

None of it glorifying God. All of it shaming you and Jesus. But you don’t care. And if you do care, you don’t care for long. You gag conviction so you can satisfy your wickedness, and you kick communion with God to the curb.

If this describes you, then your sin is worse than you thought.

2. Secret Desire to Approve that Sin

You are annoyed that your sin is off-limits. You point your finger at your good deeds, and ask, “How can I be a despicable person when I lead worship? When I am the faithful treasurer of the church? When I bust out post after gospel-proclaiming post?”

You schedule a good deed into your day every morning so you can persist in a sin later that afternoon. You abuse , examining yourself to find the good deeds that will make you feel better about your sin.

You heap up hope that you will escape the wrath of God.

In the end, you fail to expose yourself to the gospel. To repent of sin. To get it pardoned in the blood of Christ. To kill it in the Spirit. You are like the rich young ruler who said, “In all things I will walk with God, but in this one thing–God be merciful to me.”

If this describes you, then your sin is worse than you thought.

3. Frequency of Success

Let’s say you fight that sin.

You punch the floor in prayer. Take the cold shower. Grit your teeth and curse under your breath. You flee the bar or the peep show. Resist lashing out against your spouse or children. Resist lying to your accountability partner.

But sin wins.

Yet, rather than grieve in your loss, however, you actually enjoy it. You relish it. Delight in it. No wonder overtime your losses against that sin begin to pile up.

And let’s say there are times when you do not finish that sin–you actually win against it. Yet instead of feeling victory over that sin, you begrudge the fact that you could not indulge in it, and nurture the thought that you would finish it if you could.

Furthermore, you choose activities that make you careless and negligent when it comes to killing sin. You are then surprised when sin overtakes you. Yet, you are no less at fault. You are simply a despicable person for playing naive.

You are fooling no one. Your sin is worse than you thought.

4. Fear of Shame and Punishment If Caught

And let’s say you do not hate sin, but the negative consequences of indulging in that sin. That means you would naturally fulfill that evil desire if you could get away with it.

Sadly, this is no different from actually living like an unrepentant sinner.

Furthermore, you don’t use the gospel to resist sin, but the law. You fear God’s wrath and eternal damnation.

In the end, you do not love God or Jesus. A child of God hates sin because he loves Christ: Paul said, “Love of Christ constrains us” (). But you feel as if that constraint is a punishment–and not a gift.

Your sin is worse than you thought.

5. Complain of Being Disciplined

Sometimes you will find yourself suffering correction because of former lust, negligence or sin (). This is correction from God. What is important is how you respond:

What was your soul like before?

Were you neglecting duties?

Being selfish?

Is there a sin you must repent?

New sin is sometimes permitted and new affliction sent to remind us to bring old sin to remembrance. Do not complain against such discipline. Instead, thank God for being merciful because he has your joy in mind, and his glory.

Complain of such discipline and your sin is worse than you thought.

6. Resist God’s Chastisement

The Bible is clear that God will desert and afflict his children if they hold onto their sins. He did this to Israelites () in the Old Testament. And in the New he gave up those who worshipped the creature rather than the Creator to the lusts of their hearts.

As a form of punishment God will abandon us. How do we respond to that chastisement? Do we convert? Do we correct our behavior? Are we edified?

Or do we fight that chastisement? Do we buy into the heresy of easy-believism that turns God’s grace into lasciviousness? Do we buy into the false gospel that says God hates the sin but loves the sinner?

If so, your sin is worse than you thought.


If you consider yourself a believer and yet notice any of the above signs in your life, then flee to the cross. Beg God to forgive you for your obstinacy, pride and selfishness.

Whatever you do, do not look within yourself for the cure for your sin. Do not believe in the lie that your good deeds will neutralize your sins. Turn to God.

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15 thoughts on “6 Signs Your Sin Is Worse Than You Thought

  1. Victoria Hudgins

    Okay, here goes. This makes me cry.

    This is the ONE reason I find myself feeling so defeated I eventually give up. I’m not saying your view is wrong, only that I can’t measure up. I can’t. Not that I haven’t tried. It also has left me with a lifelong feeling that God is not so much a loving god, but a taskmaster that is impossible to please. I have heard or read this sermon many, many times.

    I’m sure my reaction has something to do with the way I was raised, but nevertheless, it drives me off the path every single time.

    It makes me feel like I’ve been set up. I didn’t ask to be born into a sinful world. I did not make the rules. And I will not pretend to be what I’m not.

    I may not act out a sinful deed, but my mind and my heart are constantly sinning. If I fled to the cross every time I caught myself doing something sinful in heart or mind, I would never get anything else done. I am not being trite, or sarcastic, but disgustingly honest.

    If you asked me, if, in my experience, God is a loving god, or a taskmaster, I would have to say the latter. I would need to really think deeply about it to say He can be loving. If you cannot say you’ve felt the love, then how can your life be joyful? It can’t.

  2. RedWulf

    I personally am not ashamed to be human. My life is not full of sin (sin is relative) it is full of choices.

    1. DemianFarnworth

      I am not ashamed either. There is great dignity in being made in the image of God. So, why are you not ashamed? And what do you mean “sin is relative”?

  3. Anonymous

    I dont think its fair to say “God Abandons us” , Because thats not entirely scripturally accurate – Rather… He is behind us, as a father, and allows us to learn from our mistake – Else he would NOT have intended for us from the dawn of creation to be saved. Right in the Book of Genesis is evidence of the trinity “Let US make him in our image” . Do you think for a moment that God was surprised by Adam and Eve’s sin? He knew it would happen. Do you think he was surprised by David’s sin for Bathsheba?

    1. DemianFarnworth

      Regarding God abandoning us, I was referring to Romans 1:24-28 in which Paul said three times “God gave them up”…to their lusts, dishonarable passions and depraved minds respectively. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. And I appreciate your thoughtful response.

  4. Patrick Finley

    @Demian – I understand your perspective, however, I disagree with that limiting our free will – He has set a banquet before us, and it IS up to us to choose… But you cant think of God’s understandings as our own. He sees the outcomes of all of our choices before we make them – His knowing what that choice will be in no way takes away our free will. Look at the prophets and their writings, many of which describe choices, etc that were made – Even the Master said “One of you betrays me” (I am paraphrasing that.) – Judas could have realized that moment where he was… but Jesus knew the choice eventually was one judas HAD to make.

    1. DemianFarnworth

      We are on the same page. I was not trying to strip away our free will, merely pointing out that those verses suggests that in some cases God uses our own depravity (and the consequences) to punish us for our rebellion. In essence, he gives us exactly what we want. ????

  5. Patrick Finley

    Simple ..that goes back to Choice. We have to choose to embrace his love, and his grace. As you have stated, its all about free will

  6. Patrick Finley

    God’s love is everlasting – I have to bring in some catholic understanding here at this point – bear with me

  7. Patrick Finley

    Its also interesting this whole post ???? In that there has always been in the catholic Church a clear understanding of “mortal” or sins that lead to our death, and “venial” or less serious sins (IE I lost me temper). Just a random side thought


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