The Intoxicating Pleasure of Sin

As we’ve been working our way through The Drama of Marriage series, we came to Genesis chapter 3. We learned there’s an “open secret” within every marriage—and that “open secret” is sin. Below is a little breakdown on the way sin works. Rarely does it prance into your marriage declaring its presence, but tends to seduce. It likes to be crafty and subtle—kind of like the serpent. And this is why sin easily destroys marriages. It creeps in unnoticed and unannounced. Whether you’re single, married, or desiring the other, I wonder how the below works itself out in your life.

13-tree-of-life
     “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
                                                   -Gen 3:6

 

What makes sin so intoxicating it its ability to offer more than one immediate pleasure. In Genesis 3, D. A. Carson observes Eve being enticed by sin in three ways. Its appeal was sensual, aesthetic, and sapient.

Sensual 

Eve saw that the tree was “good.” It was good for food and offered much physical satisfaction. Before the fall, the consumption of food was not necessary for survival. Eating was a gift from God for the purpose of physical pleasure. However, the lie of sin produced an action. She saw it was good for food and ate. She became convinced that eating fruit from this particular tree would be more pleasurable than the taste of any other fruit in the garden.

Aesthetic

The tree was “a delight to the eyes.” It was satisfying her physical sense through visual appeal. In the midst of temptation, she was already being offered some degree of pleasure. Though she had not yet sinned, here we begin to discover the difficulty of resisting temptation. It has an offer of satisfaction before it has satisfied. Temptation is often the bait of sin. The images have passed through our eyes and the smell has already lofted into our noses. It’s no wonder Paul speaks of taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:4-5). What brings us to the kitchen is not the knowledge of cookies being baked, but the intoxicating aroma filling the house.

Sapience

Every good lie must have a hint of truth. What made The Fall so insidious was the deception that Eve would become wise. There was truth to this. Eve would know good and evil, but the lie was this; Eve would not come to know good and evil in the same way God did.

Carson uses the following example to illustrate. When his wife had cancer, her doctors knew the kind of cancer she had. They were familiar with its terrible effects and mutations. They knew what the cancer was capable of doing. They knew its morphology and its many potential outcomes. They knew how to combat the cancer, and what kinds of treatments were necessary. The doctors had studied and interacted with the disease for years. They knew its color, its physical appearance, what it would be like in five years, and what it had looked like the previous year. No one knew this cancer better than these doctors… except his wife.

There was a way his wife knew this cancer in which the doctors could never know it. She knew it physically. She knew the way it felt and the way it made her change. The doctors never had to house the disease in their bodies, creating an incubation in which it could thrive. They never hated it mentally, much less, emotionally. It never affected their families the way it affected hers. The point here is that having an intellectual knowledge of the disease is not even close to the physical, emotional, or mental reality of having it grow in your body.

And this is the way in which Eve would come to know good and evil. She would only know it in a twisted sense. She would only know what the disease of sin would allow her to know. She would never know it as God knew it. And this was the deception. She thought she would become a peer with God. What a lie.

So What?

Sin has not changed. It’s still the same. Its aroma lingers in our noses, its sound in our ears, and its throbbing in our hearts. There’s no physical, emotional, or intellectual ground on which this disease doesn’t utterly consume. It deceptively and insidiously captures all senses. It intoxicates them and convinces us that we can be a peer with God.

And this is the secret that’s not so secret. Sin is subtly working its will in your marriage, and every relationship for that matter. Once we come to recognize this truth, we stand a much better chance of battling well. Christ has defeated sin once and for all, but its effects are still powerful. The great truth of Genesis 3 is not so much the reality of sin, but God’s promise that He would one day end the serpent and his power (3:15). He’s already done this through the cross work and resurrection of Christ, however, we still live in the “now, and not yet.” As such, we must fight, knowing that sin is ever-present— ready to seduce, lie, contort, and destroy—offering promises it can never deliver.

Why is Life Hard? – A Biblical Counseling Basic

Romans828Why is Life Hard?
(A biblical counseling basic)

Over the years that I’ve been a biblical counselor I’ve had the “why is life hard question” asked of me a number of times. The context is usually the person is going through some significant trial and/or struggling to change a circumstance they have little control of.

The answer is simply sin and The Fall.

When Adam fell, life became hard; not only for Adam and Eve but for every person that came after (Gen. 3:16-19).

I think this truth is empirically obvious. Natural disasters, wars, rumors of wars, starvation, disease, conflicts of every sort since man could record history, point to a deeply flawed planet populated by deeply flawed people. No exceptions.

The fact that our bodies start breaking down the minute after we are born is further proof that everything breaks down over time and is corrupted in some way (Rom. 8:20-22).

For example, at the time of this writing I still face two surgeries out of the four recommended. The doctors tell me that I have genetic bone problems in my feet and knees and that over time the bone structure has broken down to the point where I need “hardware” to firm up bone structure or replace bone entirely. While I can contribute to my pain with a poor diet the basic issue (genetic) is the result of The Fall.

I tell the people who ask me the question “why is life hard” that we live in a sin cursed world and because we do, things happen to us that we are not directly responsible for. We get cancer, have accidents, catch colds and at times our home may burn down because of a lightning strike. We live in a broken world despite its beauty. If you think about it you will realize there is much in life beyond our control.

I further tell the person we are sinners; including us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We cannot escape the fact we sin (1 John 1:8) against God and others. Furthermore, others sin against us.

The consequences of our sin and of others sin makes life hard.

People ask the “why is life hard” question because they are tired and/or because they have lost hope. If they are Christians they have lost sight of the Savior and of the Gospel.

The gospel brings hope. The gospel brings hope because it already solves our biggest problem–the problem of sin. While we still sin, we fight forgiven sin if we belong to Christ.  Jesus paid the price for all of our sins: past, present and the ones we have not gotten around to yet.

Thinking about that should bring us hope. Our suffering is temporary. Christ will return one day and make all things new, including the broken creation.

Once more, we are no longer slaves to sin and are instead slaves to righteousness in Christ. Even in the midst of a severe trial we bear testimony to a risen Savior who loves us and is with us in every trial.

In Christ we have a new identity and a new power to resist sin (Rom. 6:14) which makes change not only possible but inevitable if we seek to apply change from the inside out (Eph. 4:22-24). The principles of change apply even in the midst of great suffering. In fact, it is in the midst of great suffering that the greatest change is possible.

In Christ we come to realize that there are no accidents and nothing is beyond our heavenly Father’s control. It is not a cliché to say that… “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28, ESV

Note that the passage does not say all things are good; only that all things work for good for those called according to His purpose. That is hope for those that take the time to contemplate how God sees beyond our circumstances.

Why is life hard? Answer: Sin and the consequences of it.

Where can hope be found? Answer: In Jesus who is the gospel and its chief messenger. Our goal is to apply the gospel in our sufferings and trials.

Internet Community Cannot Replace the Church

8583949219_f55657573e_zWhen we think of the Christian walk in the Western world, we often think of it in personal terms. Yet if we follow the logic of the New Testament, we are saved unto a body in Christ with whom we covenant. Part of this covenant is the mutual pursuit of holiness. While the temptation is always there to pull back rather than reveal my warts, I know this will not yield the fruit of repentance. In an age where we can use social media communication to give a slanted portrait of our lives, this covenant is especially relevant.

For that reason, I am often perturbed when I see vague social media posts asking for prayer in deliverance from sin. The reasons are many, yet namely; it seems to be a concealment of one’s sin from their local church body in order to avoid confrontation and vulnerability, all the while, cloaking it in a self-perceived nobility to quell the conscious.

Social media simply doesn’t allow one to press more firmly on the individual to reveal what is below the surface. Sin is rarely in isolation; the heart is quick to devise ways of concealing the grossness and depth of our sins. It is difficult enough for one to own up to the fullness of their sin between trusted confidants, let alone individuals with whom they have no meaningful relationship.

Let’s entertain the idea that someone is opening up within a Facebook group of strangers with the ongoing sin of pornography. They openly acknowledge it as sin, the desire for repentance, and so forth. Beyond the immediate consequence of a lack of accountability, they have sought consolation from those whom are not intended to shepherd over them. These same individuals who offer consolation are not in a position of authority, nor are they held to account for the well being of this individual’s soul.

In lieu of this, there is rarely a call to repentance – yet even if there is, there is simply no process to see this through. There will be no formal disciplinary action, further admonition, discipleship training on a healthy, biblical sexuality, and no impartial inspection. Most will offer trite words of encouragement speaking about the grace of God. Let me make this clear – my intent is not to say the grace of God is cheap; it is incredibly pricey. The grace offered by those whom cannot call one to true repentance, is cheap. They may point effectively to the cross for the forgiveness of sin, yet they do not effectively point to the need for personal holiness.

Additionally, there are other problematic inferences in seeking this kind of counsel. It cannot lead to more probing questions; i.e. how often, how long has this been going on, who knows of it (one’s spouse, church leadership), what kind of pornography it is (is it child porn? If so, legal repercussions must also take place), has this manifested itself in tangible ways (strip clubs, prostitution, infidelity, casual sex, rape; again, if so, legal repercussions must also follow for some circumstances).

If it is solely relegated to legal pornographic expressions, what other sins can be identified with it? What measures are they taking to guard their eyes and heart? What movies/television shows are they watching? What does their browser history look like? What are they reading? What are they listening to? There are countless other questions needing to be asked and dealt with appropriately in order to apply the healing salve of repentance and faith in Christ. Internet groups simply cannot offer this, thus, anonymity often wins the day.

The job of the church is not simply to perform Sunday services and potluck dinners. We gather as a community of believers in order to unify through a common covenant. We are to carry the burdens of one another in the bond of grace in order to represent a more full, purer picture of the call upon believers. Grace is not simply a means to avoid Hell; it radically transforms us into the image of Christ as we live the cruciform life.

On an individual basis, no person can thrive and find lasting repentance apart from this community. We are called to a body that will faithfully deliver the wounds of a true friend, proclaiming that those who make a practice of such deeds cannot inherit the kingdom of God – yet remind us all the while of the abundant hope found in the gospel of our Lord.  It is an incredibly difficult thing to ask of our brothers and sisters to “pierce” us and reveal sin – yet as we step out in faith with a broken and contrite heart, we will find He is pleased to continue that refining work in us.