Is that really a sin?


I’ve had something on my heart for a while now. I see so much debate among Christians about whether or not xyz is a sin, or if it’s allowed, and if so, how much…

  • Is it really a sin to watch an unwholesome TV show? Is it a sin to read unsavory books (such as 50 shades of gray)
  • In dating relationships, how far is “too far”?
  • If you’re drinking, how much is “okay”?

And on and on the list goes until we are so divided that we can’t agree on anything. And the problem remains. The argument is usually “the Bible doesn’t really say that’s a sin, so under grace we should be able to do it.”

A Cheap Imitation

Too often, we seem to be chasing after a cheap imitation of the world. In nearly every instance where the subject of sin comes up, the goal seems to be to get AsCloseAsPossible to sin, without actually sinning. The problem here is that our focus, our desire is still on the sin. We feel deprived without it. We’re bothered by the fact that we can’t have it. We want to get as close to it as possible. That is not evidence of a changed heart.

I heard the theme song from the Grinch movie recently, and this line struck me, “I wouldn’t touch you with a 39 1/2 ft. pole.” The Grinch was a mean, bad character and the author/singer didn’t want anything to do with him.

Sin is bad, people. It’s so bad that Jesus Christ came to DIE so that we could be freed from it’s clutches!

Why do we want to flirt with it?!  We should be saying “I wouldn’t touch you with a 39 1/2 ft. pole,” but instead we are courting it. We are holding 1/4 inch sticks in our hands and hoping we can manage to not get burned by the sin we are so attracted to.

Cheap Grace

We say things like “We don’t want to be legalistic. We are under grace, not the law, so we can do what we want.” We cheapen God’s grace to serve our own pleasures and desires. James says we are drawn away by our own desires. And we justify them in any way we can. We believe God’s grace is powerful enough to forgive us, but not enough to change us.

But in reality, that’s what Jesus says He will do. We’ve all heard the often-quoted verse, “the truth will set you free.” But what truth? What are you free from?

The Jews said they’d never been in bondage, so how could they be made free?  Some of us might be thinking the same thing. As Americans, we live in a “free” country. What do we need set free from?  Jesus goes on to explain:

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)

Jesus died to give us freedom from the bondage of sin! We cannot earn our salvation, and I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. But, we are called to holiness, and to be imitators of Him, not the world.

roaring lion

Cheap Faith

In the end, we are left with a cheap faith. One that doesn’t change us like God’s word says a true faith will. One that doesn’t fulfill us. One that makes it nearly impossible to witness, because all we have to offer is a cheap imitation of the world and why would anyone want that when they can have the real thing?

Jesus Christ offers far more than a cheap imitation of the world. But we have to let go. We have to let go of trying so hard to be just like the world that we’re just left unfulfilled because we have nothing.

What if we changed our question around? What if we changed our focus around and instead of asking, “Is this a sin?”…what if we started asking “Is this glorifying to God?” I think a lot of our questions would be easier to answer that way.

What if we truly sought to let go of this world, and instead grasp on to the Lord and His holiness and hunger for that instead of some kind of “fun” that we think we’re missing out on.


  1. says

    WOW Crystal, Thank you for sharing that truth! It is so encouraging to hear things like this from someone else! We need to be His reflection, not the world’s… This is truly what people who are searching want to find: the real thing. Keep shining!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Thank you for your encouragement, Sheri. The Lord is so gracious to lead and guide us and I am so thankful for that guidance.

  2. Sandy Olson says

    Crystal I so appreciate you opening your heart to all of us. I wish you would move to my neighborhood! We seem to think alike even though our families are at different stages. I have college aged children and we are always talking about this. I can’t wait to use the”Grinch pole” example! When I comment on recent movies or books they tell me “Mom I know what God expects of me.” But I think we can have a much richer life if we stay away from the muddiness of the world. Thank you for making me realize that I need to instill these values in my children. Oh and I’m just now realizing that parenting lasts into the 20s!!

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Sandy, thank you so much for your sweet words. I’m sure I could learn much from you! And, yes I completely agree that “we can have a much richer life if we stay away from the muddiness of the world.” So much truth in that.

  3. says

    Good, good stuff, Crystal. I have been pondering these same issues when it comes to being complacent in motherhood and moms drowning in projects and crafts and missing the hearts of their children.

  4. says

    Exactly! Asking “is it a sin?” is the wrong question. My husband and I often tell people that–because as pastors (and former youth pastors) we get asked this A LOT. The correct questions we should ask ourselves is “is it Kingdom?”, “does this further the Kingdom?”, and, as you put it, “does this glorify God?”.

  5. says

    I truly love the idea of changing the phrase around, not is it a sin which puts the emphasis on us but does it glorify God, the emphasis put on Him. A pastor once did a sermon on how being saved was like falling in love. Oh, how exciting, you want to tell the whole world, you are just swept away by it. But then the work starts. By loving Him, it means you want to live as He intended. But that’s not always so easy especially if you’ve lived by the world’s standards for a long time. Thank you for this reminder :)

    • Crystal Brothers says

      So true, Stephanie! When we’ve lived by the world’s standards for a long time, it can be some really tough habits to break!

  6. Tanya says

    Crystal, this is excellent. The NT is packed with verses that rebuke lawlessness.. I have such a different understanding of the OT that was revealed to me personally. It’s not a legalistic view because my filthy rags couldn’t get me to a cloud, let alone Heaven. But because of my undeserved salvation I long to follow and hang on to His every word. “In the beginning was the Word…” He always existed. At the Exodus, at Mount Sinai, during the days of the Prophets.. Jesus didn’t start a new religion, He came to point us to the Father and brought Understanding, Light, and Life with Him. He is Good! Good stuff. Love your heart, Girl xo

    • Crystal Brothers says

      So true, Tanya! I especially love this: “because of my undeserved salvation, I long to follow and hang on to His every word…” Isn’t that the heart of it?

    • says

      Halleluyah! I have come to the same conclusion. The mystery of the kingdom that Paul talked about being revealed to those that pursued the truth and love it. It is only because of his mercy and grace that I repented and was set free.

  7. Christy king says

    So I’m a little late in finding this, but I was blessed by your post. Too many use the grace of God to justify fulfilling the lust of the flesh. (Myself included from time to time!) Thanks for reminding me we are not alone in a walk that seeks to honor our savior more than ourselves. Many Christmas blessings to you this year as well. ;0)

  8. says

    This has so been my heart in recent years, and even moreso in the last few months. I want to be about seeking God with all my heart, pursuing His glory and holiness, rather than seeing how close I can get to worldly things or on the other hand being so focused on what i'm against. Great post, Crystal…sharing it today!

  9. Ann Marie says

    Thank you….this article was a good read. It is the submission to Jesus Christ as not only the Saviour of our souls but also LORD of our lives, to yearn for and learn to be holy as He is holy. His grace is amazing but should NEVER be used as a “get out of jail free card” to dabble in the sins that He wants us to leave behind …. at the cross. Thank you for expressing this concern for the Christian church so well.

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