Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Sins You’re Keeping in Your Back Pocket

The accessibility of sin can be intoxicating. Often the actual collapse into sin is preceded by a long period of sneaking glances at it, and carrying in the back of our minds a double-minded sense of pride in the feeling that we have both options available to us. We allow the corrupting idea to linger in our minds that we have security for our satisfaction – if worshiping God and obeying His instructions isn’t giving us fulfillment, we always have the other option available near at hand. We’re rich.

Of course, many of us don’t tell ourselves this is what we’re doing. We don’t come to God while consciously saying we’re keeping our options open. We earnestly try to enjoy God and serve Him wholeheartedly. But we aren’t. We haven’t burned our bridges and completely committed ourselves to depending on God alone for our satisfaction and joy. Although we tell ourselves we aren’t trying to have it both ways, what we’re holding onto is the illusion that we have choices. We hold on to the appealing fantasy that perhaps we don’t have to give this up after all. If the chance to sin is close by, the fact that we have temptation so near at hand makes us feel like the rich man who wanted to have all his riches and follow Jesus too. It is very hard to give up something tempting and desirable when it’s so available.

It’s one thing to say we will gladly choose to follow God instead of chasing after riches we don’t currently have. The risks and rewards seem easier to compare that way: we might never get riches for all of our eager pursuit, but Jesus promises us abundant life and eternal joy with certainty. But the choice is far harder for the person who just won the lottery and who now hears Jesus telling him: “Throw it away and come follow me.” Winning the lottery feels like a once in a lifetime victory – a great and unexpected blessing that might never come your way again. To give that up is quite a risk. How many people fell into adultery for the same reason? It was one thing to work on their marriage and be thankful for their spouses when there was no immediate rival at hand. But when someone powerfully attractive suddenly shows a special interest and implies they are available, the same feeling of good fortune takes over in the mind. Who knows when a chance like this might come around again? Too many of us are unwilling to pass up an unexpected chance for pleasure.

The truth is that God’s commands and the moral character of God that they are based on are not going to change. We don’t have choices about how to approach God. Only Jesus has the words of eternal life. We have no other avenue to take, no other lifestyle or set of values we can make the journey with. Since God is not about to change what He has rebuked as sin, there is no reason not to make a clean break with it now. Every moment that you put it off is like giving another inch to the enemy of your souls. Delaying to make the decision makes it harder to make the decision.
Delaying to make the decision makes it harder to make the decision. 
One of Satan’s favorite sneak attacks is convincing you that you don’t have to decide now. He is an expert at convincing you that tomorrow, or next week, or next year will be good enough to make the final decision. And all the while you don’t realize how much deeper the temptation is taking root, and how much less serious you are getting about believing it is really a danger or even really wrong. Think how many people lose their souls because they keep buying the idea that they can wait a little longer to make up their minds about who the Christ is – and suddenly the time’s up. The same is true for particular temptations. Putting off that decision to fully and finally commit to shutting greed out, thrusting aside all fantasies of easy money, seemed like it wasn’t doing any harm, until suddenly the perfect opportunity to cheat your employer came along. And you hadn’t ruled it out yet – so you let it take hold. Quite a number of people in prison could tell us how foolishly they toyed with the idea of embezzling from their clients or their employers for a long time before they finally jumped and did it. All they would have needed to do was decide it was unthinkable and organize their mind and desires to focus on other things. But they waited.

Don’t wait.

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