When I was a very young man I used to catch rattlesnakes when I worked at Scout Camp. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a snake in the wild that I didn’t have my “blood run cold.” It is a strange feeling and I think it is our natural reaction to snakes that harkens back all the way to the curse and the enmity put between the serpent and man. I’m not particularly fond of snakes, but they are important to the environment and as long as they leave me alone I’m happy to leave them alone. There are those that keep snakes as pets and I have nothing against that practice so if you want to have a snake as a pet, go for it. However, if you keep a snake that is capable of killing you, then there is a problem.
There are plenty of stories of people who kept a poisonous snake as a “pet” that ended up being killed by that pet. There are all kinds of stories of people keeping exotic animals or vicious dogs that have had their “pets” turn on them and kill them. Why am I talking about deadly pets? These deadly pets serve as an illustration for us of the dangers of sin. Maybe you have heard the term “pet sin” that is used to describe a besetting sin that people are not willing to let go. What is your pet sin? Maybe you have pet sins. One of the first indicators that you are harboring a pet sin is that you don’t want to confess that sin or you deny that it is sin. You maybe embarrassed by your sin, but you enjoy it too much to give it up. You know it is wrong, you know it is dangerous, but it is what you want. On the other hand you may simply deny that your sin is sin. That is usually the case for those who are not struggling with the sin of pride or anger or other sinful attitudes. So why is this important? Well James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death.”
This sin thing is a life and death issue. Just like a deadly pet that is apt to rise up and kill you, any sin that you have made peace with is even now in the process of killing you. Sin promises fun and life for the moment, but it brings disaster and death every time. It may not kill you physically, but it will definitely kill you spiritually and it could kill you emotionally as well. For those who are in Christ Jesus, our pet sins become repugnant to us and we will seek to kill them because the Holy Spirit dwelling in us will be at work to change our heart’s affections and desires. If that is not happening in your life, you have reason to be concerned for your salvation. Yes, it is that important. Confess your sins to the Lord and repent (turn away from them). Will you ever be free of your sin in this life? No, but as you mature in Christ, more and more you will be able to truly say, “I’m not harboring any pet sins.” If you have a pet sin, don’t hide it, find someone you trust and share it. The body of Christ is here so that we have brothers and sisters who can help bear our burdens, who will love us enough to hold us accountable, and who will walk along side us in the struggle.