Little Sins

Little Sins from

(J.R. Miller, “Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ” 1890)

“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same–will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:19 

A great many people are careful about breaking large commandments and committing heinous sins–while they commit ‘little sins’ continually and without scruple.

They would not tell a direct lie for the world–but their speech is full of little falsehoods!

They would not steal money from the purse or drawer of another–and yet they continually commit small thefts! For example, by mistake the grocer gives them a penny too much change–and they do not think of returning it. Through the carelessness of a postal worker, the postage stamp on a letter is left uncancelled–and they take it off and use it a second time.

They would not purposely try to blacken a neighbor’s name or destroy his character–and yet they repeat to others the evil whispers about him which they have heard, and thus soil his reputation.

They would not swear or curse in the coarse way of the ungodly–but they are continually using such minced oaths such as, Gosh! Gees! Heck! and other mild, timid substitutes for overt swearing.

They would not do flagrant acts of wickedness to disgrace themselves–but their lives are honeycombed with all kinds of little meannesses, impurities, selfishnesses, and bad tempers.

We need to remember, that little disobediences–harm our witness for the kingdom of Heaven.

Little sins–mar the beauty of our character.

Then, little sins are sure to grow! The trickling leak in the dike–becomes a torrent deluging vast plains!

Ofttimes, too, little sins are infinite in their consequences.

We ought never to indulge even the smallest faults or evil habits–but should aim always at perfection of character, and perfection is made up of ‘littles’.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Editor’s note: Minced oaths are used to avoid swearing, when expressing surprise or annoyance.

Minced oaths are usually, although not exclusively, religious in nature, and date from the days when it was irreverent and unacceptable to use the name of God, Jesus, or other sacred words in everyday speech. To mince your words, means to choose words so as not to offend anyone–except for God, who sees them as sacrilege (the sin of profaning sacred things). Here are a few examples:

Bejabbers — By Jesus
By George — By God
By golly — By God
By gosh — By God
Chrissakes — For Christ’s sake
Christmas — Christ’s Mass
Criminy — Christ
Cripes — Christ
Dad gum — God damn
Dagnabbit — God damn it
Dagnammit — God damn it
Dang — Damn
Darn — Damn
Darnation — Damnation
Doggone — God damn
Gee whizz — Jesus
Good grief — Good God
Goodness gracious — Good God
Gosh — God
Gosh darned — God damned
Heck — Hell
Jeepers Creepers — Jesus Christ
Jeez — Jesus
Jiminy Christmas — Jesus Christ
My goodness — My God
My gosh — My God
Tarnation — Damnation

14 thoughts on “Little Sins

  1. This is priceless!! As people who are called by God, it is up to US, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk in a manner that honors Him! I love what Peter writes here … 1 Pet. 1: 13-17. Thanks so much for this post; reminds me a great deal of something J.C. Ryle would write! Blessings-


  2. Katy – I hear ya. We’ve lost much of our Christian history, given the way our modern churches tend to behave. I thank the Lord for those who have preserved much good material and have made so much of it available on the web – for the glory of God and the good of His people.


  3. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

    Thank you, Manfred, for reposting this. I am always enamored with the writing of the saints of the past. So much preaching today is nothing more than man-centered tripe. And I’ve been shocked to hear so many pastors today openly sinning in their speech from their pulpits, saying things that just a century ago even the world found offensive. My how we’ve fallen.

    As a follow-up to this, I highly recommend Phil Johnson’s sermon in which he deals with blaspheming God’s name. It is an incredibly uncomfortable and convicting sermon that every Christian should hear regarding our speech. You can download it from this previous post:


  4. The Bible says “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” (Eph 4:29) and it also says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16 – 18). Those are two quick guidelines as to what is not acceptable and what is acceptable. Study the Bible to know God and, if you are born again, you will think and speak things that honor and glorify Him.


  5. This is interesting. Obviously, anything that would be crude or especially takes the Lord’s name in vain shouldn’t come from our mouths. I think slang and “cultural” talk has had a big negative influence. I would urge us, however, to go beyond the words and work on the condition of the heart that results in the annoyances and frustrations in the first place. We have the ability to appear Godly and righteous by not saying expressions as these, but still have rotten, corrupted, black, hearts that are full of frustration, anger, annoyance, and so many other sinful thoughts and discontenments.


  6. ATG – fact is, all Christian will struggle with sin until we die, or the Lord returns. If we have the Spirit of the Living God, which all Christians do, our soul will be sanctified by His work in us. We cannot – I agree with you – be casual about the hidden sins that afflict us. Indeed, these mince oaths will be no problem if one is justified, adopted, and in process of being sanctified – all by the work of the Lord God and all for His glory and the good of His people.


  7. I always thought that “By George” meant George Washington, thought “Jeepers Creepers” was an old Charleston dance song, thought Christmas was just Christmas, thought “good grief” was just a sigh of frustration. “Bejabbers” sounds like a Surfer’s line of clothing…..never heard that one before. And I think that over half of these sayings were pumped into our heads by the television i.e. Shirley Temple – “Oh, my goo-ness” (anyone remember her singing “Animal Crackers in my Soup.” “Tarnation. I think I heard on old westerns. And if anyone has watched TV for more than a couple of hours a week over the last few decades they have been desensitized to cursings, nudity, materialism and homosexuality. (Remember “The Odd Couple” back in the early 60’s, (I’m guessing the time). The saying “You are what you eat” could apply to “You are what you watch.” God forgive all of us for our sins of omission. Thanks for this list (I think). I will definitely see what Phil Johnson has said about this subject.


  8. Julie – It is amazing how corrupt language makes its way into a culture by the use of euphemisms, same way other terms go main stream with different meanings, such as “gay”.

    If I had made the list, I would have specified “Christmas = Christ’s Mass”, as that is the origin of that one, thanks to Rome.


  9. Lots of good food for thought here, both from the post and comments. As I’m sure many of us, like Julie, never really gave much of a second thought about certain words/expressions we grew up hearing on T.V. and elsewhere, nor have we considered some of it to be any reference whatsoever to the Lord or the things of Him. I agree we should be thinking about whether our thoughts and speech are pleasing to the Lord or not.

    But whereas there are definite references to God, Jesus, and Christ, still obvious in the alternate wording given above, there are others that, quite frankly, I see no connection at all to the Lord, nor corrupt or perverse in meaning. They are simply expressions of emphasis, bewilderment, etc. For such things, it should be a matter of one’s own accountability to the Lord, and ought not to be a judgment upon others who may not be in violation of the Scriptures.

    What grieves me the most though, is when professing Christians go straight to using God’s name (without mincing it at all) as a byword or expression. Or the currently popular online expression “OMG”. As if using His holy name or referencing Him casually isn’t blasphemy “as long as it’s not in a derogatory way”. ANY use of the holy name of God in a vain manner (casually, as an expression, as a byword, in jest, etc.) is forbidden by God and therefore is sin.


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