Could I End Up Selling Meth?

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Unlike most of my friends, I did not rabidly watch every episode of “Breaking Bad” as soon as it aired. Only recently have I started making my way through the series, and I’m currently about halfway through season two (if you want to know, Walt just got his good diagnosis). Now, let me just say up front that this post is neither an endorsement of or condemnation of the show. If you watch the show or abstain from watching, that’s between you and the Lord. There is certainly some objectionable content in the show, given the fact that most of the show centers around meth.

One of the things that makes the show so brilliant, is how perfectly it captures a man’s slow descent into absolute destruction. As the show progresses, Walter White makes a series of small choices which have exponential consequences. One lie leads to another, bigger lie. One act of intimidation leads to another, bigger act of intimidation. A small act of violence leads to a much bigger act of violence. Almost every show contains a perfect, poignant moment, in which Walt is perched on the edge of decision. He can choose good or he can choose evil, and as time goes on he increasingly chooses evil.

As I watch the show, I can’t help but be reminded of Galatians 6:7-8, which says:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I’ve been in various positions of church leadership for many years, and during those years, I’ve seen a lot of fantastic things. Kids saved. Marriages restored. Sinners rescued. There’s nothing better than seeing the power of God transform a life!

But I’ve also seen a lot of really terrible things. Marriages destroyed. Faith abandoned. Friendships destroyed.

In almost every case of a Christian committing massive sin, it didn’t start big. Big sin never starts big. The guy who cheated on his wife didn’t wake up one day and suddenly decide to commit adultery. It wasn’t like he woke up and said to himself, “Today is a good day for some wickedness.” Rather, it started with small, seemingly “innocent” compromises. Sitting together with the woman while eating lunch. Having extended conversations with the woman. A few semi-flirtatious emails. Beginning to text message the woman outside of work hours. Small acts of sowing to the flesh which, when added together, result in massive corruption.

The woman who ended up rejecting the church and walking away from Jesus, didn’t suddenly decide to go apostate. Rather, her apostasy was the result of a hundred small choices. Slowly abandoning the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. Gradually neglecting to fellowship with other Christians. Experimenting with pornography. Again, small acts of sowing to the flesh which then snowball into massive corruption.

I’m not writing this as some sort of scare tactic, like that show “Scared Straight”. Rather, I’m writing this as a sober reminder to myself and you. By the empowering of the Holy Spirit, who gives me all that I need to overcome temptation, I want to take sin very seriously. I want to flee big sins and little ones. I want to take evil seriously. I want to heed the warning of Hebrews 3:12-13, which says:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Lust Has The Worst Credit Rating

Illicit sexual pleasure is everywhere. Internet porn is two clicks away. An affair can be born out of simple Facebook chat. Inappropriate pictures can be exchanged via sexting. Lust is so easy, so accessible, so cheap. And it looks so good! So craveable. So satisfying. The burning desire inside us feels so natural, so normal, and so appropriate. In the words of Solomon, lust looks sweet like honey and smooth like oil:

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil… (Proverbs 5:3)

Lust looks so sweet, so smooth, so good, so seductive, so appealing, so satisfying. It promises satisfaction and release and unending pleasure. It promises pleasure without consequences. It masks itself as need. I need to look at porn. I don’t have a girlfriend and I need to find release somewhere. I need to have an affair. My spouse is not fulfilling my needs so I need to look elsewhere. 

But lust has the worst credit rating in the universe. It always defaults on its promises. It never delivers as advertised. It always takes more than it gives. The honey is actually poison and the oil covers a sword.

…but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:4)

Giving in to sexual sin always, always, always has consequences. Every time we open the door to lust we bring another truckload of bitter poison into our lives. Every time we indulge in sexual sin we are essentially ramming a sword through our chest. We are committing spiritual suicide. We are poisoning our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

Lust is a honey-coated sword. It is a bankrupt borrower. It always takes and never gives, always promises and never delivers, always kills and never gives life.

Contrast this to Jesus, who said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Jesus always delivers on his promises.

Just A Little Sin

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May I take my sin more seriously.

So often I don’t view it as being that big a deal.  “Oh, it’s just a little bit of fear of man…I was kind of proud…I was just a little jealous…some slight discontentment…got a little hot under the collar.”

I think that often I don’t take my sin as seriously as I should because I view it in terms of its effect on me.  It hinders me, it makes me unhappy, it hurts me.

God stood David on his ear when he spoke through Nathan the prophet about David’s sin:

Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? … because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah… Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord… (2 SA 12.9, 10, 14).

Despised…despised…scorned…

David’s sin of adultery was horrible because of what it did to Bathsheba and Uriah her husband.  It was horrible because of the consequences it would have for David and his family.  But the worst thing about his sin was that it was despising God, the God who had blessed and prospered David so much.

That “little fear of man” is despising God’s word.

That “slight discontentment” is despising God.

All sin – even “small” sin – is scorning the Lord.

May we see our sin for what it is and vigorously hate it.  May we hate every sin, even those that don’t seem that blatantly foul.  And may we continually appropriate the mighty power of the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and run hard after God.

photo by Prof. Jas. Mundie

Our Ultimate Hope

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

This is a sobering, frightening, soul-gripping text. I confess that as I think about the possibility of becoming hardened by my sin, I am tempted to be afraid. After all, I know the depths of my own depravity. I’m wicked and ungodly, often straying, and with a heart that quickly loves other things. How am I to be sure that I won’t stray from God or let my heart become deceived by sin? How will I ever make it to the end?

Then I remember glorious passages such as Jude 1:24, which says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” Oh what sweet words these are! My confidence does not ultimately lie in my ability to fight sin or the spiritual insight of those in my accountability group. My confidence is in our great and glorious Savior, who promised that He would never lose me or leave me or let me go. My confidence is firmly placed in the one who hung upon the cross and died in my place. My hope for heaven is in the One who purchased heaven for me. Christ, and Christ alone is my hope.

Take time today to thank Christ that He is the One who sustains you and keeps you. Thank Him that He will never let you go, and that nothing can snatch you from His hand. You are His forever, purchased by blood and sealed by the Spirit. That is our confidence.

Who Do You Need?

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

This passage highlights two questions that we should ask of ourselves:

1) Who do we need to invite into our life? The sad fact is, we won’t accurately see and understand our sin apart from the input and correction of others. God has created us in such a way that we need others, and He has ordained that the Christian life be lived out within a community of other Christians. Those who seek to follow God without the help of others are fools, setting themselves up to deceived and hardened by sin. God speaks to us through the insight and wisdom of other believers.

And yet many times we don’t invite other Christians into our lives. We don’t want their correction and don’t desire their help. In fact, when someone brings correction or rebuke, we act offended, irritated that they had the audacity to tell us where we are failing. In our pride we end up being fools. We’re like a blind man with a fly swatter. We know sin is there, and we can hear it buzzing around, but we can never quite seem to hit it.

Who do you need to invite into your life today? Are you asking for correction and rebuke from those near to you? Are you aware of your blindness and asking others to help you see?

2) Who do we need to initiate with? Most of us don’t like correcting people. It feels awkward, and people don’t always respond well. And most of the time we’re not even sure if someone is really sinning. We just have some vague thoughts about something that might be sin. I can’t count the number of times I have neglected to correct someone because I was afraid of what they might think of me.

But the truth is, scripture calls us to correct others in love. If we truly care about someone and are truly concerned for their soul, we will help them see their sin. If we are passionate about the glory of God, we must initiate correction and rebuke with those around us. It is terribly unloving to leave someone blinded by their sin. And our correction should be marked by humility and gentleness, and always done with the motive of helping someone draw near to the Savior.

So who do you need to initiate correction with today? Who do you need to admonish and encourage today? Who do you need to exhort? If we are to please God, we must invite correction and initiate correction.