When it comes to sin, foresight is better than hindsight
Say what? There is no getting around the fact that temptation and sin are pernicious and tricky. They lure us with their appealing promises and howl with laughter after we have succumbed to their offering. Even in the lives of believers, serious followers of Christ, there is still that remainder in our flesh that can create an overpowering desire for things that will be our eventual undoing. Sin possesses the qualities of an aphrodisiac, beckoning us to partake of things alluring, exciting, and more appealing directly to our senses than to our brains or certainly our spirits. It shifts our thinking away from eternity to the short-run.
If we think we do not have areas in our being that still respond to the appeal of sin or foolishness, we do not know ourselves very well. Our enemy, the devil, is certainly conscious of what makes us tick and what he can make available to us to compromise our good reasoning as well as our faith. He watches and waits, to be sure. And he is delighted to offer the hospitality that can lead to our ruin. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) We are warned in scripture about the craftiness of our adversary who not only views us as “lunch” but also as a means to adversely impact the faith of others and the advancement of God’s kingdom. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Let me ask you a question. Whether you are a drinker of alcohol or not, think of 5 things from the least case to the worst case that could happen if someone were to drive drunk. There are literally dozens of answers. Knowing this, would you drive impaired anyway? Want to try another? Try this. If you are married, what would be 5 of the inevitable or possible consequences of having an affair that was discovered? Knowing these probable outcomes, would you pursue this relationship?
We say “no way” to the above questions. “I would never.” But we do! Such terrible things happen all around us, whether they fall in the category of sin or in “just plain dumb.” And why do we expose ourselves, or “present our members” as the Bible would say to such potentially catastrophic situations? We may say, “This could never happen to me” but it can. It does. We have a strong propensity to wander as well as succumb to what appeals to our flesh. These impulses are as powerful as addictions and just as lethal.
I love the verse “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Take the thought captive. What a concept! To think about what my decision means before I take action. We have the capacity to use our spiritual foresight to avoid the ambush and ruin. The Holy Spirit is poised and ready within us to provide the strength and reason to make right choices. We can “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”(Heb. 12:1) We can! But we must practice being in control of our thought lives, carefully guarding what we allow to surface and being especially cautious about what we are willing to process. We must see our minds as thresholds that we cautiously guard as one guards their front door. The death that sin brings is not as unpredictable as we might think. Nor is our flesh as impervious to its appetites as we would like. I can’t help but confirm the broad significance of this famous quote: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” (Clint Eastwood: Magnum Force 1973) Think About It . . . . before you do it!