How Sin Makes Us Vandals – Gospel in Life

How Sin Makes Us Vandals

Tim Keller |  February 7, 1999

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Idolatry
  • Sin
Judges 17:1-13
RS 101-1

Judges 17:1–13

The story of Micah from the book of Judges teaches us about the complex nature of sin. Micah steals silver from his mom to make idols and even hires a Levite as his personal priest. This story shows us that sin isn’t always obvious, sometimes it’s in the everyday things. It also teaches us that sin can affect our relationship with God, turning our perception of Him into something smaller and more controllable.

1. We think God is like us, and we think he can be bought

Practices like reading the Bible, praying, and going to church can be very helpful, but why we do these things is important. If we think we can earn God’s favor by being good, we are misunderstanding who God is. Instead of trying to control Him, we should surrender to His will and recognize His authority over us.

2. You think God is like you because you don’t think he’s any wiser than you are

When things go wrong, we often get scared or angry because we think we know better than God. But if we believe that God is in control, we must also trust that His reasons are beyond our understanding. Our dissatisfaction comes from trying to make God into a version of ourselves, rather than accepting His will and wisdom.

3. We think he’s like us in math

Many people think we can earn God’s love through our actions or religious practices. But this is not how God works. His love and grace aren’t rewards for what we do, but are freely given out of His own nature. It’s important to let go of the idea of earning God’s love and instead accept His unconditional acceptance.

4. We think he is like us in his wisdom

Not understanding God’s plans can lead us to think He doesn’t care about us. But our limited understanding doesn’t limit God’s goodness or His work in our lives. Even when we don’t understand what He’s doing, we can trust that He’s always working for our good.

5. We think he’s like us in our scale

The size of the universe shows us how powerful God is and reminds us of our own smallness. Yet, we often act as if God is beneath us or owes us something. We also make the mistake of thinking our values are superior to others’, which is a form of prejudice. This all comes from the mistake of thinking God is like us, which leads to doubt, anger, and self-righteousness.

6. You think God is like you in his attitude toward time

God’s understanding of time is different from ours, He sees all moments at once, which highlights His justice and the need for forgiveness. By reducing God’s greatness in our minds, we limit ourselves. But when we see God as He truly is, as shown in Jesus Christ, we are freed to live meaningful lives. Grasping the paradox of God’s greatness, shown in His willingness to become small and die for us, is key to living a life devoted to Him.



The Girl Nobody Wanted

By Tim Keller

The War Between Your Selves (Part 2)

By Tim Keller

The War Between Your Selves (Part 1)

By Tim Keller

July Book Offer

Reading Galatians Can Change Your Life!

Galatians is a powerful book that shows how people can think they know the gospel but are actually losing touch with it. In this study of the book of Galatians, Dr. Keller helps you understand how this short book in the New Testament can transform your life.