“for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:22-23

What a way to start a blog post, right? With a swift kick to the groin! But the cold hard fact is that we are all sinners; every single one of us. There is no getting around it. There is no explaining it away, and there are no excuses for it. We are all sinners and have fallen short! Now we know there is good news because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross through the shedding of His own blood. But this is not about the good news. It’s about sin – your sin, my sin, our sin – and what I call the five giants that plague us as men.

“Five? Surely, there are more than just five sins that plague us,” you say. And, you’d be right. But as we meet each of these giants, I want us to see how insidious and deceptive they are:

An insidiousness that lies in its ability to take many shapes and many forms.

An insidiousness that lies in its ability to make you believe what you’re doing is not a sin.

An insidiousness that lies in its ability to take something that was meant for good and use it for evil.

So, let’s get started and meet giant number one…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Now if your right eye is causing you to sin, tear it out and throw it away from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand is causing you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Matthew 5:27-30

LUST is a sin of entitlement. It is a temptress that steals our purity with empty promises of sexual fulfilment. It tells us that we are just men who have biological urges that must be met in whatever way we see fit. Lust takes our purity (a moral choice and a holy calling) and makes it into something far less – an animalistic, biological urge. In doing so, it wants us to feel entitled to it, making us question why a loving God would deny us our basic needs. And that is the lie. God is not denying us anything. God is wanting us to experience sex as it is meant to be – the most intimate connection a man can have with a woman. That is why it is reserved for marriage. It is why these verses in Matthew tell us that lust is equal to adultery. Yes, even if you’re single.

Like many men (which is why it is giant number one!) I am no stranger to lust. I still struggle, and my past is littered with the debris caused by my sense of entitlement, the hormonal rush that comes with the selfish meeting of my own biological needs, and the lies I told myself particularly that my addictions were not about the act of sex at all. Of course, they were, but they also were about control. For me, it was the control over the stress in my life and a need for danger in what was a very safe ‘churched’ life; it was a feeling of being in control when life was out of control. Lust sold me the lie that I was entitled and that I was in control.

But it was a lie, for the only thing lust delivers is ruin. Even after years of being ‘clean’ I am still taunted by images and memories of conversations that call me to return to that life. And as for most men trapped by lust, my view of women, sex, and relationships (all relationships) had been skewed in ways I’m still discovering, even after all this time. Lust ruined my view of healthy relationships. Lust ruined me. Lust promises pleasure but delivers ruin.

“But He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one is affluent does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is demanded of you; and as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?’ Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God.”

Luke 12:15-21

Giant number two is GREED, and like lust, it is a sin of entitlement. More than that, greed is an addiction to entitlement. Greed blinds us to the blessings that are right in front of us and says that we deserve more than we have. Greed makes us believe that what we have is not enough to make us happy, meet our needs, or make us whatever we want to be. Greed promises that once we have more, not only will we be satisfied but we can then stop striving and rest. Yet, greed is never satisfied, so a person trapped in greed does not find rest. Greed is always wanting, always demanding, and will either make us work harder or entice us to create (usually sinful) short cuts. There is no winning with greed.

But what does greed look like? What forms does it take?

Here are just a few:

Greed creates an unhealthy desire for wealth where money is seen as an object not a tool. To quote a friend who works in the finance industry, “When one looks at money as an object, it becomes an idol which (inevitably) leads to corruption and greed. The flesh will never stop desiring more and more and more. (But) When one looks at money as a tool, as a resource and they being a steward of that, it totally changes the game.”

The same can be said for stuff. How many of us fall into the trap of the greed that can be associated with ‘having the latest’ car, phone, computer, game, fitness gear… whatever. It is a greed motivated by either comparison with the next guy or wanting to feel good about ourselves (after all we deserve nice things, right?). There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but there is when we consistently look for the next, newest, better thing instead of resting in God and contentment in Him.

Greed creates a desire for attention. This can follow two paths. The first, is when we have been hurt or feel that we have been ignored. Although our desire is healthy relationships, we end up simply craving the attention that a relationship provides, making excuses to be in a person’s life and consuming all their time and energy. Secondly, when we already have a position of influence, the attention that it offers becomes like a drug as we end up needing more and more. As a brother recently shared with me, “Social media is a great example of this. Posting something just for the like and figuring out how to capture and keep people’s attention is a form of greed, as is the things people will allow themselves to do for the attention of those following them.”

Greed can also create a desire for serving the Lord. Yes, you heard me right. A greed that says that to be the perfect follower of Jesus, I must do more and more in the church. How many of us have fallen into that trap of being so busy at doing, that we have neglected our families?

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, arrogance, the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.”

Proverbs 8:13

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”

Proverbs 16:18

Giant number three is PRIDE. Where Greed tells us we need more to be better, pride tells us we already are better than the next guy. Pride says, “Look at how good looking, intelligent, witty, talented, wealthy and successful I am! Look at all my stuff! Look at my accomplishments and achievements.” Pride says, “Look at me, because I am better than you!”

Let’s make a clear distinction between pride and a healthy self-image. As men made in God’s image, there is no place in our thinking for self-loathing or insecurity. A healthy self-image is good, but when self-image morphs into an arrogance absorbed by its own self-importance, it becomes pride. Pride is an insidious beast with two heads. One, we know all too well in arrogance. It says, “Look at me, not them!” But there is another head that pretends to be humble. He who spends his days denying the worth that is his through Christ, saying “I am nothing!” is just as guilty as he who says, “Look at me!” Why? Because pride in the guise of false humility seeks attention in the way of affirmation and praise, and pride is an attention seeker.

“You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.”

James 1:19,20 (NASB)

ANGER is a monster that is intent on destroying every single relationship that comes across its path! Do not be deceived. Anger, like any emotion left unchecked, seeks to consume and destroy. Anger, often partnered with the arrogance of pride, tells us that it is our right to be offended, to embrace hurt and hate what we disagree with,  accuse others of misunderstanding or judgement, instead of seeking understanding and reconciliation when we are wronged. Anger is the emotion of a victim.

“How dare you do this to me! What about what I want? Why are you judging me?” Sound familiar? We live in an offended world where the victim is king. But God and His Word call us to something more: to the life of a victor that comes through the discipline of self-control. Anger is a sin of control. More specifically, it is lack of control and a lack of maturity. Should we let the world use us as a doormat then? Certainly not, but we also must not let the injustices of this world drive us to anger. One of the greatest unspoken testimonies we will ever have as God’s people lies in how we respond to injustice.

“For the faithlessness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.”

Proverbs 1:32 (NASB)

Finally, in what seems to be moving in completely the opposite direction, we have COMPLACENCY. Laziness, sloth, disobedience through neglect, call it what you will, complacency is a sin. The sin of complacency rears its ugly head every time we choose (yes, complacency is a choice) to not fulfil our responsibilities to our workplace, our families, our churches, and to God. It rears its ugly head every time we refuse the discipline and accountability that we need to overcome this and any other sin. Complacency wants us unprepared for battle.

Complacency tells us that things are not as important as we think they are. Complacency tells us that there is always tomorrow. Complacency tells us that we can do it later. Complacency desires that we become fat, lazy, and undisciplined. Complacency’s task is to blind us to the other four giants, and thus, the final and fifth giant.

Five giants. It’s a brutal list, isn’t it? Now we could go easy on ourselves and just leave it here having outlined these five giants, but we won’t. We won’t, because there is no point in understanding what the Word of God says about sin if we do not take personal responsibility for it. It’s time to squirm in our seats as we ask ourselves, which of these five giants stalk the landscape of our life and will we go to battle against them?