Biblical Worldview

Oppression: Reacting to the Sin of Wasted Time


One of the great things about a blog is the ability to write briefly on a very specific slice of a topic.

But when these slices are left without context, a lot of problems can arise.

I believe that’s what happened in my last post, Is Wasting Time a Sin? What I intended as a short answer to a question I was asked ended up, I think, giving many the wrong impression.

It’s my fault for not communicating properly, but one of the great things about the blog is that I can follow-up and hopefully give a more complete and accurate picture in this post.

The Extent of Sin

I hope I showed in the last post that wasting time is a sin.

Every single second of wasted time is a sin. Because every single second of wasted time reveals a sinful heart.

This goes way beyond our actions – to our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes. In fact, sin is a condition of our lives. It is not merely a symptom. It is the disease.

Lowering the Bar

That standard is unimaginably high, so we curl away in disgust.

It sounds so oppressive. God, after all, is the God of peace. We don’t want to be legalists. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees who stacked up rules upon rules. Right?

So our approach is to lower the bar.

In an effort to not be like the bible-thumping legalists of the past, we convince ourselves that God’s real standard is what a reasonable person could achieve.

He wouldn’t want us to be so stuffy. We pat ourselves on the back for not being a Pharisee and instead emphasizing love and tranquility.

Try Harder and You Might Reach the Bar!

But that presents a problem.

As Michael Horton points out in Christless Christianity:

A weak view of sin fails to bring us to the end of our rope; instead, it encourages us to try just a little bit harder to save ourselves.

When we lower the bar to something that’s attainable, we then start to hold ourselves responsible for attaining it.

We feel a surge of self-satisfaction after a productive day. But we feel guilty after an unproductive one.

We tell ourselves that we’ll try harder tomorrow, and we throw in some Christian-sounding words as we make our pledges to be better.

The Escape Strategy Backfires

We wanted to escape the oppressiveness of the law, but we haven’t.

In fact, our attempt to escape the law (lowering the standard) is the very thing which keeps us enslaved.

Realizing the extent of the law – that we’ll never be able to come close to measuring up – is what leads to freedom. Because understanding the oppressiveness of the law and our own inability to keep it is what drives us to the cross.

More words from Horton on this:

…[T]he best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of that true righteousness and holiness that God requires…
Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ.

It’s Good to Feel Bad

So now that you know wasting time is a sin, do you feel a heavy weight on your shoulders?


Do you feel a burden because you haven’t lived the last 30 seconds correctly – much less the last day, the last year, or the last decade?


That’s the point. Let that drive you to Christ – who lived, died, and was resurrected. That’s where you can escape the oppression.

Photo Credit: .v1ctor. (Creative Commons)

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