And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. (Genesis 20:2-8)
Porn: I’m not hurting anybody. It’s my decision. I’m the only one affected.
Adultery: Nobody knows, it’s fine. No one else is hurt by it.
Drunkenness: So what if I drink alone in my house, nobody else is being hurt, are they?
And so on. Sin is sin. Sin affects not only the perpetrator of sin but those around him or her.
Abraham told a half-truth. Sarah was his half-sister. But he left off a critical piece of information, one that Abimelech was seeking in good faith: is Sarah married? Abraham was silent on that score. He committed a sin of omission.
James 4:17 declares, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Abraham also committed a sin against God by not trusting Him with the circumstance.
Poor Abimelech. There were certain things he had to do as a result of Abraham’s lie, such as returning Sarah, making arrangements to get Abraham back, telling the servants and so on. Abraham caused an upset against another person, a major one that almost cost Abimelech his life.
Think of Achan in Joshua 7. He stole some things in the military victory, though the Israelites were warned not to. Although the account shows that Achan individually was guilty of coveting and taking these war spoils, Joshua 7 opens with a declaration that the whole community of “the children of Israel [had] committed a trespass” (Joshua 7:1). Achan’s sin wasn’t individual, for 36 men lost their lives in the battle of Ai, which was lost because of Achan’s sin. (Joshua 7:11). All of Achan’s family were stoned as a result. (Joshua 7:24).
Whether sins of omission or commission, sin is never individual. It harms the person sinning, it harms the family, church, or even the nation. Most of all, personal sin is against God. Like ripples in a pond, sin extends it tentacles outward.
Finally, as David declared in Psalm 51:4,
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.