The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' (Luke 18:11-12)
Any act gains in power as it moves inward toward the heart. For this reason, the sins of the spirit are more iniquitous than those of the body. This was illustrated boldly by the attitude of our Lord toward these two kinds of sins and the corresponding two classes of sinners. He was the friend of publicans and harlots and the enemy of the Pharisees.
All sin is sinful and will be fatal to the soul if it is not forgiven and cleansed away. But for intensity of iniquity, the sins of the spirit are in a class by themselves. Yet they are the very sins which are most likely to be committed by religious people.
The careless sinner expresses himself overtly and so "releases" the moral tension; the religious sinner is not likely so to do. He scorns outward acts of wickedness and drives his sin inward to the sanctuary of his soul where it remains in a state of high compression. The notorious unloveliness of many religious people can be explained in this way.
Father, help me to understand that sin is sin. I may not be committing sin strongly condemned by society. But so-called "inner sins" are just as sinful. Christ had to die to pay the price for "little" sins as well as big ones.
As Evangelical Christians we can be highly pharisaical in condeming the overt sins of others while refusing to acknowledge our own sins of the spirit. Does God see us as those with telephone poles in our own eyes yet denouncing tiny specks in the eyes of others?