The Progressive Nature of Sin


We’ve been speaking quite a bit around here at Theology Today about sin. Today I’d like to share with you the progressive nature of sin using the example of Joseph and his brothers.


Genesis 37:3-20 NIV

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.”Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”


Sin Begins in the Mind

Notice in verse 4 how Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him. They were upset Israel loved Joseph more then the rest. They hated Joseph and treated him like dirt. They spoke to him as though he were a servant instead of their brother. Instead of repenting of their anger and jealousy they took it one step further.


Sin Begets Sin


Rather then repenting of their anger and jealousy Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him. They couldn’t help themselves any longer. Maybe they “couldn’t resist”. Either way their failure to repent of their anger and jealousy towards their brother led them to conspire to kill their brother.


Sin Begets More Sin


Now there is indecision on the part of the brothers. Kill him and then cover up the sin by lying? They were in too deep by now. What started out in the minds of the brothers led to more and more sin. See how progressive sin really is?


I think you get the point without me having to go much further here.


There’s nothing new under the sun my friends. Our thoughts are where our sins begin. This is where it began for Joseph’s brothers the same way it does for you and me. How many times has our anger and pride led us to do completely stupid things that we later regret?


Behind the scenes at Theology Today we’re dealing with a situation that began in one man’s mind yet he didn’t stop it there. Anger and jealousy entered the mind of one person and now many are affected. The progressive nature of sin in one mans life has led to a MAJOR mess that most likely will be the fall of someone’s ministry and quite possibly others may fall as well.


Sin is progressive and we must as Christians learn to not act on our thoughts but to confess and repent of those evil thoughts and intentions before they lead to action. I can’t emphasize that enough.


13 thoughts on “The Progressive Nature of Sin

  1. Excellent post Phil. Something for all of us to consider for ourselves as well. Thanks.

    I add this quote by Spurgeon,

    Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. —C.H. Spurgeon

    • Thanks Rod!

      I wrote it for the kids at my tennis academy and of course there was another similar situation as well. And yes we can all learn from the errors of the past.

  2. Phil,

    This reminds me of the old saw about politicians.

    “It’s not the crime that does them in, it’s the coverup.”

  3. Phil
    Timely,for me.There is a particular problem I have tried for some time to overcome.I ask the Lord to help me complete that which He started.


  4. I would add that it’s not just progressive but is also contagious.

    For those who have been married, I’m sure they have encountered the problem in their marriage where they had a couple who they were close friends with. Then the couple starting having marital problems over infidelity or abuse, or some other sin and before you know it, it’s infecting your own marriage.

    Your kids can make friends with those who have undesirable habits and before you know it, your kids are developing those habits.

    Sin is like a disease that is infectious. If you’re allow it a seat at the table and share the same cup – it won’t go well for you.

  5. Sin is that proverbial snowball. Let it roll, and look at all that mess it accumulates on its path to destruction. Stop with a match, and it becomes as harmless as a pool with your floaties.

    Which reminds me, I need to start keep my Bible next to my lighter for the fireplace again.

    Nice post, indeed Phil.


  6. Phil

    In the example given,you are quite right as to the progressive nature of sin.

    However,what are we to make of the account of Judas Iscariot,who Satan ‘then’ entered,and this was followed closely by the betrayal of our Lord.This looks like an event,not a process(although he had an earlier hidden sin-stealing).

    Is it possible that sin could also be of a non-progressive nature?

  7. Phil

    Actually there seem to be 2 distinct accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot.In one he commits suicide by hanging,in the other he falls down in a field he bought and dies-accidental death.

    But really Joseph’s brothers and Judas are examples of sin.Clearly,you have demonstrated that sin could be progressive in nature.But I am concerned with a principle here.This is the question:Do we have scriptural or experiential evidence that sin could be of a non-progressive type?

  8. Tunji,

    Sin IS progressive Tunji. When you sin where does it begin? When sin enters our mind and we carry it further then its progressive don’t you think?

    Have you ever committed a sin that didn’t begin in your mind Tunji?

    Read Matthew 15:18-20. Genesis 6:5. Jeremiah 17:9. That should get you started.


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