The interesting thing about sin is that it grows.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15
You see? Sin grows. The scripture above makes it sound like a person, but to me, it likens that of a quiet parasite drifting along in your intestines, unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, until you start having severe pain and come close to fainting, and then the doctor informs you that you’re infested. Imagine that for a moment. An infestation in your body that you cannot see. You see the effects it has on you, but the tormentor itself is hidden. Invisible.
Sin isn’t all that invisible if you think about it. Sins can be external and internal. For example, everybody sees the deranged rogue who shoots up an audience in a movie theater. But what about the silent sibling who secretly wishes for and meditates on her sister’s bad fortune? No one sees her sin. No one sees the wickedness that is being nurtured and praised inside of her heart.
God sees all of a person’s ways, and her inmost thoughts.
“The Lord’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.” Proverbs 20:27
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” Proverbs 16:2
All too often we notice others’ sins. We crinkle our noses in annoyance, but we’re exactly the same. We are wired to pursue that which is bad for us. Tragically, we’re often unaware of the sin incubating behind our ribs, warmed and pressed inside our hearts, feeding on our blood.
Maybe you’re semi-conscious of its tiny palpitations, but you don’t stop what you’re doing. Why stop lusting for this person? When you fantasize about her, when you imagine her soft hair, the smell of lavender on her neck, the curve of her spine…you burn for her. To consume her. To possess her. Sin feels good when you’re doing it. So why stop imagining her? She only takes off her clothes in your mind, but there’s satisfaction in it.
Temporary satisfaction, and then like an addiction you keep trying to hit that good feeling again. It doesn’t last long enough though, so of course, you have to keep doing it. You can get stuck real fast, and meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is waging war against your flesh trying to convince you to stop. As a Christian, sins never feel the same as they did before believing. Before Jesus, you could sin in an undivided way. But now, you’re not just flesh, and the Holy Spirit detests what is contrary to God.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17
The flesh will never be satisfied, but the Holy Spirit is satisfied in Jesus. Jesus gives us contentment, but our sin never will no matter how much Satan tries to deceive you. Sin does not leave you full; it takes from you and takes from you until you’re crying out in distress that you’ve been robbed blind.
“The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” Proverbs 19:23
Don’t be unaware of your sins. Follow David’s example and ask God to reveal the hidden sins in your life. In his perfect timing, God will show you what’s lacking and what to do.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
The Bible tells us many times what will happen if you give in unadulterated to sin. A prime example is the parable of the lost son.
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
I’m going to interject here and offer some thoughts. The younger son had everything he needed when he was at home. Not to say that traveling is bad, but the son was not pleased with his means. The Bible encourages us to be content in what we have instead of spiraling into greed and envy (Hebrews 13:5). Still, the younger son took his inheritance and went off alone. You know what I’m thinking about? I bet this younger son didn’t even tell his family where he was going, and when he arrived at some foreign place, he didn’t tell them he was safe. Did he care that his family knew about his welfare?
It seems that the younger son did not communicate with his family after he left. I am only suggesting this based on the father’s reaction, which you will read next.
See that the younger son indulges in sin. He has a splendid time until a famine occurs. The famine shows us that our sins have direct consequences. Hardship comes, and the younger son has no means of caring for himself. In his pride, the younger son still does not return home. Instead, he envies the pigs for their food.
Sin always leads to disasters such as these.
Let’s go on.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
As I was saying earlier, sin can be external or internal. The younger son sins externally in that he leaves home and squanders his father’s wealth. The older son sins internally in his anger toward his father and his younger brother.
Anyway, do you see God in this story? I see him in this human father. He took care of his sons and gave them everything they needed just as God does for us (2 Corinthians 9:8) Even when both of his sons sinned in different ways, the father responded in sincere love. The younger son didn’t even apologize to his father before his father ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him. This is how God is with us. When we are humbled, God just waits for us to return to him. He will always take us back. His love is impossible to understand, but it’s the realest thing we have.
The older son doesn’t go to his father; the father comes to him and asks what is wrong. Even in stubbornness and pride, the father reasoned with his son and implored him to come and celebrate with them. God always wants the best for us. He couldn’t be any other way. He’s too merciful and loving. He’s not like a person that he’ll harbor selfish anger. He only wants to forgive us, but we must confess our sins.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28