I recently realized that I wasn’t living in the house that I thought I was.

Last summer I moved into a house bearing the number 15. I love everything about it: the house itself, the neighbours, and the area’s community spirit.

It wasn’t until some months later that I realized that I didn’t actually live at #15: I live at #13. The house next door is #11, and opposite my house is #12. Counting from the bottom of the street, mine is the thirteenth house.

So why didn’t the city call it #13 when it was assigning street numbers to the houses?

In many countries, the number 13 has unlucky connotations. Why? One reason is that there were thirteen present at the Last Supper, including Judas, who would betray Jesus.

Some people are superstitious about this number, and try to avoid its “bad luck” by keeping away from anything labelled 13. There’s even a word for the fear of the number thirteen: triskaidekaphobia.

The result is that many companies and cities fudge their numbering to avoid 13. This is why many hotels and tall buildings seem to lack a thirteenth floor: the elevator buttons skip from floor 12 to 14.

The thirteenth floor continues to exist, as does the thirteenth house on a street: we haven’t erased them. But we just call them by other names. We simply pretend that they’re actually the fourteenth floor or the fifteenth house. Everyone goes along with this fiction because it means we don’t have to face reality. We’re deluding ourselves, of course, but it seems we prefer to live in denial.

We do the same with sin, don’t we?

We call it by other names so we don’t have to face up to the reality of what it really is.

We use euphemisms to describe our sins: we call them poor choices, moral errors, lapses in judgement, moments of weakness, or simply mistakes. After all, a “fib” doesn’t sound as bad as a “lie.” An “affair” seems less of an offence than “adultery.” It’s easier on our conscience to dance around the truth.

By using euphemisms, we downplay the gravity of what we’ve done. Our sins still exist, but by renaming them we try to deny their seriousness. We sugarcoat their ugliness with labels that are less jarring.

The result?

We continue in our sins and don’t seek a remedy for them. We don’t really own up to our sins, or take responsibility for them. We think we don’t really need to do anything as drastic as repent or seek a Saviour, so no real change comes about in our lives.

We delude ourselves into thinking that we’re living at #15.

The danger of this is that we’re not addressing the thing that is creating a barrier between us and a holy God. We’ll continue to blindly live in bondage to sin. Taken to its conclusion, this approach will bar us from spending eternity with our Heavenly Father.

Image by Elias from Pixabay

The good news is that God Himself provided a solution in the person of His Son, Jesus. Through His sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus provides a way to free us from bondage to sin. His gift enables us to be redeemed and restored to a right relationship with God.

Our role is to be truthful without resorting to euphemisms: admit that our sin is nothing less than rebellion against God’s laws.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)

Next, ask God’s forgiveness and believe in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on your behalf.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Then, no matter which house or floor you live on, you’ll know that you’re living in freedom!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

john 8:36

© 2023 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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