The Progression of Sin

no-slave-to-sin“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:14 (NKJV)

Have you ever wondered whether or not a certain activity is really a sin? I have. In fact, one day about 30 years ago, just prior to doing something questionable, I prayed, “God, if this is a sin, then have Pastor Mike call me on the phone right now.” He wasn’t in the habit of calling me, so I was pretty sure it was a safe prayer – until the phone began ringing.

Surely that’s got to be someone else. With my heart pounding in my chest, I answered the phone.

“Hi Lydia, what are you doing?”

“I . . . I . . . nothing! I’m not doing anything!” I said, totally shocked that it was actually him.

No doubt, he was a little confused by my response, but he got straight to the reason for his call. We hung up a few minutes later, but it took me more than just a few minutes to process what had just happened.

Since then, I haven’t prayed about sin in that way. I don’t need to, because while there may be some things that are not clearly spelled out in the Bible, there are many events and scriptures throughout the Word of God that do define and warn us about sin.

You see, sin doesn’t “just happen,” as some would like to believe. Sin happens when we are lured away by the deceitfulness of our hearts and “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16).

There is also a progression to sin: we see, we desire, we take, and we hide. Let’s go to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:6-8 (NIV) to see what happened with Eve (emphasis mine):

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food
and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she
took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was
with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together
and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard
the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the
cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of
the garden.”

This pattern is found repeatedly throughout the Bible. Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and wanted justice. So, he took the life of the Egyptian, and hid the body in the sand (Exodus 2:11-12). Achan saw, coveted, took, and hid the spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:19-21). In 2 Samuel 11:1-27, King David saw, desired, and took Bathsheba for his own. He then tried to hide his sin – not once, but twice. In the New Testament, when Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, saw the proceeds from the property they sold, they desired and took some of the money for themselves and hid what they did from the disciples (Acts 5:1-10). Unfortunately, as was the case in each of these five examples, the result of sin was death.

The good news is God always provides a way out. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) says,

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common
to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted
beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make
the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

What does this “way of escape” look like? For someone who steals, it’s the pocket you put your hand into to keep from taking what doesn’t belong to you. For a married man, it’s refusing to casually call or text the woman in your office you are attracted to. For a married woman, it’s turning down an invitation to lunch from a former boyfriend who wants to catch up on what’s been going on in your life. For the easily angered, it’s a room door you walk through to leave before you end up saying things you will later regret.

When do you take this “way of escape?” Immediately! When you first lay eyes on whatever you shouldn’t have or take for yourself. When you first begin wrestling with feelings that are not right or pure. When you’re not sure whether or not something would be wrong to say or do. Rather than entertaining tempting thoughts or dwelling on vain imaginations, immediately turn around and run as fast and as far away as you can from the temptation. Absolutely nothing is worth the death and destruction that sin leaves behind.

One of the best ways of escape is to contact a steadfast and mature Christian you know and trust. Someone you can freely confide in. Someone who will pray for you and help keep you accountable by regularly checking up on you to see how you are doing. Someone who will come along side you to encourage and support you when you are struggling. That’s what the body of Christ is for.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for providing a way for us to escape the enemy’s schemes to try to destroy us. Increase the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives so we do not compromise in any way. Amen.

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