A quote I heard long ago is that the Bible is not a book a man COULD write, nor if he could, that he WOULD write. It reveals our weaknesses and failures. Face it, the average person does his or her very best to put, as the saying goes, “To put our best foot forward.” We don’t advertise our weaknesses and faults—the shame and humiliation would be unbearable. The fact that the Bible unashamedly tells us about our dark side is proof that God wrote it.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The expression “fallen short” is best explained as failure to reach the mark. It would be like an archer drawing back his bowstring to shoot an arrow at a target, but the problem is, the target is miles away. The archer cannot hit the target. It can’t be done. The arrow falls short. We as humans don’t want to admit we’re “short of the mark,” but God says so, and He is in a better position to know than anyone else. We humans fall short of God’s perfection. We sin, which is putting our will, our very selves, first before God or anyone else. We not only sin, we enjoy it! It’s fun! The Bible admits this, saying that there are pleasures to sin. However, what we don’t see concerning sin is the “flip side.” The pleasures of sin are passing, meaning only temporary.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24–25).
The even darker side of sin is that its pleasures are not only passing, but it is followed by pain, and the pain is always greater than the pleasure. For every gram of pleasure, we get a kilogram of pain. It’s the three laws of reaping and sowing:
1) You always reap what you sow.
2) You always reap later than you sow.
3) You always reap more than you sow.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7)
“Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).
Did I say that sin gives us pain? Yet here we see that it gets us death. Death is the ultimate pain—just ask someone beside the fresh grave of a loved one. So, why do we sin if it gives us so much pain? The sad truth is that is it in our nature to love it. The Bible speaks of light and darkness to describe the spiritual realities of righteousness and life (light), and sin and death (darkness). With this in mind, let’s look at what God says as He speaks of coming judgment:
“…they may be judged who…took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12)/
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20–21).
So, how do we stop doing evil (i.e., leave the darkness) and start doing good (i.e., join the Light)? The answer is simple. In order to come into the light, we have to do honest business with God. Fortunately for us, God did the hard work for us. Our part is to accept by faith what He did for us. To start, we need to admit we’re sinners. Our sins (i.e., our evil deeds) are treason and rebellion against God. We deserve death.
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
After our physical death, there is a terrible fate, the second death, awaiting all who end up being judged:
“This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 2:14–15).
God took care of our deserved death penalty by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on a cross. Jesus paid in blood for our evil deeds, but He counted it a joy worth the price. He paid so we could be saved from that otherwise inescapable and inevitable death penalty in the lake of fire. That was God’s part of it, the really hard part. Our part is to fix our eyes on Jesus by faith.
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame”(Hebrews 12:2a).
When we see that Jesus paid the price of our sins, and thereby place our trust in that He forgives us by what He did for us at the cross, God brings us over from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the light of Jesus:
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin” (Colossians 1:13–14).
Let me repeat that. God did all the hard work. Our part is to accept that work by trusting that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, thus relieving us of the necessity of dying for our sins and then being thrown into the lake of fire on that final day of Judgment. The contract is complete the moment we put our faith in Jesus.
If you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus Christ (or have been religious and church-going, but are not sure about your salvation), and you know you want forgiveness, then get it settled now. You can be saved from the terrible fate awaiting you, eternity in the lake of fire. Pray from your heart:
“Dear God, I know I’ve been in spiritual darkness. I have sinned, and I deserve judgment and death. I want to come to Your light. Thank You for sending Jesus to take my place to pay for my sins at the cross. He bled and died for my sins, was buried, and rose to life again on the third day. It is because of His resurrection on that third day that I know You accepted His sacrifice on my behalf. I put my trust in Jesus Christ today as my risen Savior and Lord. Thank You for the forgiveness of my sins through Jesus. Amen.”
Now that you have prayed, what happens next? God is faithful—He heard you and granted you forgiveness through your faith in Jesus.
“Truly, truly, I [Jesus] say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47).
“…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22a).
“‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’” (Acts 16:30b–31).
“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).
Now, I can just hear someone say, “Well, okay, now I’m saved, but being a Christian is going to be a drag! Who wants to walk around with a long mourning face, serious as death, and have no more fun?”
Have I got news for you! Who do you think invented pleasure?
Think about it. (Here’s a hint: Who created the universe?)
Yes, that’s right: God. It was God who invented fun and pleasure.
Think about that some more.
If there’s fun in sin, if only in passing, can it be there is fun in God, a lasting kind of fun? Yes, yes, YES!
“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights” (Psalm 36:7–8).
What we need to know is that there are good kinds of pleasure and bad kinds. Take sex, for example. God invented it. He meant it to be limited to exclusively between one man, the husband, and one woman, the wife. Within the bounds God created, it is joy, life, intimacy and fulfillment. When taken outside of the limits God put on it, it causes all kinds of damage to the lives of people, emotionally, physically, psychologically, medically, morally and spiritually.
As an illustration, take a camping trip out in the woods. At night the campers arrange a campfire, usually surrounded by stones. When the fire stays within the campfire site, it is pleasant to watch, it smells delightful, it brings warmth against the chill of the night, and it cooks food—in short, it is good. However, let it jump outside the limits of its proper use, and the woods catch fire. Fire! Danger! Run for your lives! In like manner, the fire of sexual pleasure is good inside marriage, but outside of marriage it destroys.
Once a person has trusted in Jesus as Savior, life is filled with opportunities to choose pleasures of both kinds. The enemy of God is the fallen angel once called Lucifer, renamed Satan. While powerful, he is not omnipotent, and Jesus defeated him with a crushing victory at the cross. Satan’s days are numbered, and one day he will be cast into that eternal lake of fire from which the Christian has been saved.
The devil, along with other fallen angels (demons) seek to thwart God by either preventing someone from trusting in Christ as Savior in the first place, or else by tempting believers to indulge in pleasure of the wrong kind: sin. Our lives become a battleground, and the devil does not play fair. He roams about, looking for believers to lure into sin. When a child of God gives in, he goes running to the Father to inform on that soul. We, as Christians, are therefore to be on our guard.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:6).
“…for the accuser [the devil] of our brethren…accuses them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10b).
There’s a cost for turning down the passing pleasures of sin. We saw earlier that Moses chose “rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Sooner or later, we will pay our own price of suffering. After warning Christians to be on the alert against the devil roaring about, Peter then wrote:
“But resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:9–10).
The reason we forego sin’s wrongful momentary pleasures now, is ultimately because we will be rewarded with God’s righteous eternal pleasures. It is worth it all!
“Eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
“Okay,” you might now say. “It’s worth it, but HOW do I say ‘no’ to sin? It just seems that temptation comes my way, I struggle for a while, but I eventually say ‘yes’ to it and give in.”
You CAN find victory if you follow God’s instructions on how to do it. Focus on the truth, as the apostle Paul wrote:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).
In other words, change the way you are thinking. Paul wrote earlier in that same letter:
“Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
He repeats this in his letter to the Colossians:
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
To apply this truth to change the way you’re thinking, in order that you are not conformed to this world but are being transformed by the renewing of your mind, confront temptation this way just shown. For instance, one sin that is rampant like a runaway forest wildfire for Christians today, even for pastors and Bible teachers, is pornography. Our whole society is awash in it. So, when tempted by it, say to yourself (aloud or in your heart): “I am dead to pornography, but alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
If pride is your weak spot, say, “I am dead to pride, but alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
If cursing is your vulnerability, say, “I am dead to cursing, but alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
Then replace the evil thought with good thoughts, as Paul again instructs us:
“Finally brethren, whatever is pure, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Do not ALLOW evil thoughts to run loose through your head! If a sin has habitual roots in your life like an armed fortress, tear it down with the weapons God has given you.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
When that fortress says “Lust,” respond, “I am dead to lust, but alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
When that fortress says “Drugs,” respond, “I am dead to drugs, but alive to God through Christ Jesus.”
When that fortress says ANYTHING, respond accordingly, and you will be “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
If sin fun? Yes, but only for a while. Sin ultimately kills and destroys. God has much better pleasures—they give life and are forever.