The other day as I was driving, I drew near another car that seemed a bit unsteady on its course. As I passed it – as quickly as legally possible – I noticed a young woman with her eyes looking downward, obviously engaged in texting. Too bad her driving was interfering with her texting, right?
We’ve had laws for some time to prohibit texting while driving – they say it can impair drivers as much as driving while drunk – but this woman apparently didn’t think those restrictions should apply to her. She might have rationalized, “I’ve never had an accident while texting!” If so, we might respond, “Not yet!”
This could be a metaphor for any of us who’ve flirted with sin in whatever form. We start by tiptoeing around it, kind of like sticking a finger inside a cage inhabited by an angry dog, convinced we can remove the finger in time. In a similar manner, we might try dabbling with the sin – just a bit. We reason, where’s the harm in that? We try a little more; still, nothing bad happens.
Then one day, surprise! The sin that seemed so harmless smacks us in the face. Perhaps the texting person has a sudden encounter with the bumper of the vehicle ahead. The individual who found lying to be a convenient option is shocked when a serious deception is uncovered. The guy who “innocently” submitted to a seductive photo online, then gazed at a few more, finds himself ensnared by pornography.
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” Ironically – and sadly – one Christian leader credited for making this statement on numerous occasions was, after his death, scandalously exposed for not heeding his own warnings. I’ll not mention his name, but he failed to recognize the danger of dabbling with a sin that apparently became his consuming vice.
Without question, the enticements of sin are all around us. They’re like the woman in Proverbs 9:13-18, described as, “loud…undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city calling out to those who pass by…. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!,’ she said to those who lack judgment….”
Whenever I think of the power of sin, the first biblical passage that comes to mind offers this assurance: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I remember the friend who admitted that despite his diabetic condition, driving past the Krispy Kreme donut shop presented a constant temptation. His “way out,” or “way of escape” as another translation phrases it, was simply to keep driving straight ahead rather than turning into the Krispy Kreme parking lot.
As someone has said, “If sin wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t want to do it,” so in the absence of consequences, we’re inclined to flirt with sin even more. Even until it becomes a habit. James 1:14-15 ominously declares, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
The remedy, therefore, is to take preventive steps before sin results in serious, even tragic consequences. As James writes later in his letter, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7-10).
We have a choice. We can be like the woman texting in her car while driving, presuming that since she’s not had any mishaps thus far, everything will be okay. Or we can recognize the deceptive dangers clamoring for our attention, quit dabbling in them, and turn to God for the strength to do what we know is right. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).