Time Out: Self-centered sinlessness

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Sin is something we all try to avoid, and rightly so. But lately I’ve realized there’s more to it than just eliminating sin from my life. God is convicting me of my real motive for not sinning. I’ve been doing it out of selfish motives and reasons. He showed me that the real reason I avoid sinning is because I don’t want the guilt and consequences in my own life, which feels self-centered to me. So what should my reasons be? I would really like to say that I abhor sin because my love for God is so strong I don’t want to offend Him but instead want to honor Him in any way I can. Now I hope there is some of that in me, but in all honesty that isn’t always my first thought when tempted.

When God brought this to my attention it was a real wake-up call as to how shallow and self-focused my whole life is. If the only reason I choose to not give in to sin is because I don’t want the consequences of guilt, distance form God and possible divine discipline, then I’m missing something important. That alone isn’t always a strong enough motive to not sin! Sometimes a “little” sin may seem well worth the price! I know I would live a much more holy life if I didn’t want to offend God in anything I said, did, thought or didn’t do what I should.

What’s the solution? I try to be more aware that my sin is against God, the One whom I love and who loves me. David recognized this (Psalm 51:3-4; 2 Samuel 12:9-14), as did Joseph (Genesis 39:9) and the prodigal son (Luke 15:21). Recognizing our own selfish reasons for not sinning and asking God to make us aware of them is a first step. Becoming aware of God and His love for me when I am tempted is a better motive to resist than just thinking about myself. So I ask God to help me get my eyes off myself and onto Him in all things, including sin.

Psalm 51:3-4, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”

Genesis 39:9, “No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Luke 15:21. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”

Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”


  • Honestly search your heart and ask God to reveal to you any self-centered sinless you may have. Ask Him to forgive you of it and to bring true conviction of sin to you.
  • Try to remember tempted that the only right reason to not sin is because of our love for a holy God, not out of fear of the consequences in our lives.


Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on September 7, 2008

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