Scripture teaches us that sin is not just bad, but that it is also deceitful. It masquerades. This is why we must exhort one another. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). There are many ways this can happen—let me give an example of one particular trick in three instances.
Once we learn we have liberty in a particular area, an area where previous generations of Christians didn’t think they had liberty, we sometimes forget that they had any reasons at all for their caution, and so we forget to be cautious at all. Thus we are muddled and hardened through sin’s deceitfulness. We abuse our liberty more than the legalist does.
For example, we believe that wine is a gift of God, meant to gladden the heart of man. But once we find ourselves in a position where the only sin we want to avoid is that of legalism, we have fallen into the trap. Freedom to drink does not include the freedom to walk along the edges of drunkenness. You can take up residence there and not be a legalist—but that is not the sin you are likely to commit. Wine does bite like an adder (Prov. 23:32), and some of you are playing with the snakes.
Here’s another. We do not believe that Scripture bans every form of birth control. But it does ban some of them. If once you learn that our understanding of Scripture does not ban birth control across the board, which it doesn’t, and you then feel free to use abortifacients, or to not care if something is an abortifacient or not, then you have been deceived in a terrible way. It would be better to have ten babies in a row than to use some forms of birth control, and that is something you need to care about.
Here is a third. We know that listening to secular music is perfectly acceptable, and that no broad genre of music is to be rejected out of hand. But the lyrics to a significant part of the world’s music are perfectly foul—and if you are dancing away at one of our wedding receptions, mouthing all the words to some abomination, then you have been suckered. It would better for you to limit yourself to what you think is cheesy Christian music than to listen to some of the crap you are listening to now. And incidentally, as someone who obviously doesn’t have a whole lot of discernment going, your assessment of whether we have quality options available in Christian music probably isn’t reliable either.
So when you come to confess your sins, you are not just acknowledging that which is bad. You are uncovering and confessing that which was a trick.