When Sin Trails Behind Us

Bible verse about sin and the consequences of sin. Post talks about how sin affects us long after it is done, but God's grace still applies.

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. –1 Timothy 5:24

Paul made this small but vivid remark at the end of a letter to his younger friend, Timothy. The wisdom has stuck in my mind.

Sin on the Flashing Sign

There are some obvious sins. The kind with far-reaching, immediately obvious consequences. These are sins that run on ahead of us. They holler on up ahead to our kids “don’t copy Mom in this!” and warn off our friends “you know how she is.”

We don’t have to look back to see their havoc; instead we have to ask for grace and offer apologies before anyone even gets a word in. Obvious sins mark our paths like flashing signs on the highway. Very few overlook them, including us.

Example: If you knew me before or around the time I became Christ’s, you know I loved to cheat. Any game. Any contest, any debate. It was never a surprise when friends weren’t interested in playing with me- my obvious sin proceeded me, turning away prospects for fun because I had a reputation.

Sin on the Mile Markers

But then there are other sins, the sort Paul says “trail behind” us. We pass on by these signs like mile markers along the road, taking them for granted as “just the way we are.” We may glance at them as helpful hints, but we rarely realize their impact until we’ve got a trail of them behind us.

These are the kinds of sins we only recognize when the distance is crossed and the damage is done. They are subtle, normalized, and even seem harmless.

Example: Early in our marriage, I frequently commented on my husband’s prayers. It never occurred to me I may be sinning by commentary. But, my comments were quiet criticisms and subtle opinions. Looking back, I can see that now and understand why for a time his prayers became formal and curt. That regular sin slowly put miles between us without my seeing it.

Bible about sin and living with our choices after we face the consequences.

Making Up The Mileage

Like it or not, we’re going to live with sins that flash glaringly before us- and sins that take us by surprise when we see how much they’ve subtly created consequences.

Thanks be to God whose grace is sufficient to make up for the sins that go before us and behind us. Click To Tweet

As we drive with our obvious baggage and the stuff we drag behind us, we are given this charge:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” –1 Timothy 6:11-12

  1. Flee the sin
  2. Turn toward God
  3. Press on the pedal
  4. Hold that steering wheel and drive in line with His directions

Someday, the flashing lights will be out of sight, and as Ruth Bell Graham’s gravestone announces: “End of construction- thank you for your patience.”

Someday, the mile markers trailing behind will be left in the dust as we finally arrive.

Until then, we drive on after our Lord and trust that He can make up for our meandering miles.

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12 Replies to “When Sin Trails Behind Us

  1. I can’t imagine you as a cheater, Bethany … what a testament to God’s transforming power! 🙂 Your sign analogy is convicting, especially when it comes to the mile marker sins. I need to pray for eyes to see those subtle, normalized sins that trail behind me, possibly leaving black marks that I have no way of seeing right now. Hugs, friend!

    1. Haha, thanks. It’s true, though! Thankful for God’s power to change us and make us new! I’m praying for eyes to see those normalized sins, too. Hugs, back!

  2. I was thinking the same as Lois! 🙂 It’s so true that it is easy to trail sins around behind us without even noticing them. But I love the hope that one day the work will be finished. I like the words on Ruth Bell Graham’s gravestone!

  3. Bethany, I so appreciate how you share the different kinds of sins that tend to affect the paths we walk. Thank you for the reminder of 1 Timothy 6. I’m so thankful God can redeem the past sins and change how we respond in future situations when we come to Him in repentance.

    I love Ruth Graham Bell’s words on her tombstone. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree with Michele – isn’t it wonderful that God so often allows us to “make up the mileage”?? So thankful for His grace. Also, I have never read the words on Ruth’s tombstone. Love it!

  5. I’m going to be thinking about the sins that we pass as road signs for awhile. Those are the sins I need to worry about because I either don’t really notice them or I pass them by like they are no big deal. Thank goodness for a God who forgives and sends other signs to help us find the way to Him.

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