Give the devil and sin an inch!
(Ralph Venning, "The Plague of Plagues!" 1669)
Beware of such sins as the world calls little sins! They say: "What harm is there in an innocent lie?" Alas, what a contradiction this is! Can a lie be innocent? One says, "Oh, it is only a trick of youth!" Yes, but it is such a trick as may cost you going to Hell! Another "deceives his neighbor and says: I am only joking!" Proverbs 26:19. Yes, but he who sins in jest or makes a jest of sin — may be damned in earnest!
Consider that no sin against a great God, can be strictly a little sin — though compared with a greater one, it may be. But however little it is — to account it so, makes it greater.
The nature of the greater sin is in the least sin. A spark of fire, or a drop of poison — have the nature of much more sin.
God has severely punished sins that have been looked upon as little sins, indeed, some of them well-meant sins — as when Uzzah took hold of the Ark when the cart shook (2 Samuel 6:6,7). When men only looked into the Ark — it cost them dearly! "The LORD killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the LORD!" (1 Samuel 6:19). Gathering a few sticks on the Sabbath was severely punished! (Numbers 15:32-36).
These seem to be small matters — but in sin, we must not consider so much what is forbidden — as why it is forbidden, and who forbids it.
Besides, a little sin makes way for a greater sin — just as a little boy-thief entering a house, makes way for a man-thief to enter.
It is hard to sin once and only once — to commit one little sin and only one. Give the devil and sin an inch — and they will take a mile! Vain babbling increases to more ungodliness. A little leak in a ship, may by degrees fill it with water and sink it. The Devil does not much care by what sins we go to Hell, whether small — or great; whether by religious formality — or open immorality.
If a man makes no conscience of little sins, to which the temptations can be only little — then how little conscience is he likely to make of great sins, to which there are greater temptations?
If Judas betrays his Lord for thirty pieces of silver — then what would he not do for more?
Beware then of little sins!