The great Father of Lies hath multitudes of devices by which he seeks to ruin the souls of men. He uses false weights and false balances in order to deceive them. Sometimes he uses false times, declaring at one hour that it is too early to seek the Lord, and at another that it is now too late. And he uses false quantities, for he will declare that great sins are but little, and as for what he confesses to be little sins, he makes them afterwards to be nothing at all—mere peccadilloes, almost worthy of forgiveness in themselves. Many souls, I doubt not, have been caught in this trap, and being snared thereby, have been destroyed. They have ventured into sin where they thought the stream was shallow, and, fatally deceived by its depth, they have been swept away by the strength of the current to that cataract which is the ruin of such vast multitudes of the souls of men.
With regard then to this temptation of Satan concerning the littleness of sin, I would make this first answer, the best of men have always been afraid of little sins.
Little things, we say, lead on to something worse. And thus it has always been. A spark is dropped by some unwary traveller amidst the dry grass of the prairie. It is but a spark; "Is it not a little one?" But ah! what sets the prairie in a blaze? It is this solitary spark, —the one spark—the breeder of the flames. So is it with little sins. The spark is the mother of conflagration.
Satan always begins with us as he did with Achan. He showed Achan, first of all, a goodly Babylonish garment, and a wedge of gold. Achan looked at it: was it not a little thing to do, —to look? Achan touched it: was not that a little thing? How slight a sin—to touch the forbidden thing! He takes it, and carries it away to his tent, and—here is worse, — he hides it. And at length he must die for the awful crime. Oh! take heed of those small beginnings of sin. Beginnings of sin are like the letting out of water: first, there is an ooze; then a drip; then a slender stream; then a vein of water; and then, at last, a flood: and a rampart is swept before it, a continent is drowned.
St. Augustine gives a picture of how far men will go when they once begin to sin. There was a man who in argument declared that the devil made flies; "Well," said the man with whom he was arguing, "If the devil made flies, then it is but little more to say the devil made worms!" "Well" said the other, "I believe it." " Well" said the man, " If the devil made worms, how do you know but what he made small birds?" "Well," said the other, " It is likely he did!" "Well," resumed the man with whom he was arguing, "But if he made small birds, why may he not have made big ones? And if he made big birds, why may he not have made man? And if he made man, why may he have not made the world?" "You see," says St. Augustine, "By one admission, by once permitting the devil to be thought the creator of a fly, the man came to believe that the devil was the Creator."
Just get one small error into your minds, get one small evil into your thoughts, commit one small act of sin in your life, permit these things to be dandled, and fondled, favoured, petted, and treated with respect, and you cannot tell whereunto they may grow. They are small in their infancy: they will be giants when they come to their full growth. Thou little knowest how near thy soul may be to destruction, when thou wantonly indulgest in the smallest act of sin!
The locust is but a little thing. Ay, but in their number how mighty they become! Dread then a little sin, for it will be sure to multiply. It is not one, it is many of these little sins. The plague of lice, or the plague of flies in Egypt, was perhaps the most terrible that the Egyptians ever felt. Take care of those little insect sins which may be your destruction. Surely if you are led to feel them, and to groan under them, and to pray to God for deliverance from them, it may be said that in your preservation is the finger of God. But let these sins alone, let them increase and multiply, and your misery is near at hand. Listen not then to the evil voice of Satan when he cries, "Is it not a little one?"
Now I am about to speak to the child of God only, and I say to him, "Brother if Satan tempts thee to say, 'Is it not a little one?'" reply to him, "Ah, Satan but little though it be, it may mar my fellowship with Christ. Sin cannot destroy but it will annoy; it cannot ruin my soul, but it will soon ruin my peace. Thou sayest it is a little one, Satan, but my Saviour had to die for it, or otherwise I should have been shut out from heaven. 'That little one' may be like a little thorn in my flesh, to prick my heart and wound my soul. I cannot, I dare not indulge in this little sin, for I have been greatly forgiven, and I must greatly love. A little sin in others would be a great sin for me—' How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God.'"
Excerpted fom the sermon titled “Little Sins” (Genesis 19:20) by CH Spurgeon dated 17 April 1859. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/little-sins/#flipbook/