In the past few weeks I’ve witnessed several dear friends flirt with sin in a terrifying way. These friends love Jesus very much, but circumstances have exposed areas of easy entrance for the tempter.
As I’ve pondered their struggles, and my own wandering heart, I’ve been reminded of an exhortation I received many years ago in seminary. Chancellor Chuck Swindoll was preaching in the morning chapel service.
As he stepped to the pulpit, he carried a weight on his brow, a Bible in his hand, and a written statement. He shared that a pastor from our seminary had fallen into grave sexual sin, disqualified himself from the ministry, and destroyed his family.
Swindoll then challenged us to consider where sin would lead us. Over the years I’ve followed his advice, and I’d like to help you do the same.
Imagine the Aftermath
I want to walk you through a scene to see what lies ahead on the path of sin. This scenario is aimed at fellow pastors, but the idea is applicable to all.
Envision yourself calling together your elders and sitting in their midst, telling them how you have betrayed their trust. See their sunken faces and feel their broken hearts.
Listen to them consider how they’ll tell the church. Imagine the congregation’s confusion and how it will affect those who’ve heard you say so often that Jesus is better than anything else.
Imagine how the name of Christ will be mocked in your community and beyond.
Then I want you to picture walking out to your car and getting in.
Drive down the road near your house and circle your neighborhood a few times. Picture the place where you walked the dog with your children in the evenings.
Now, pull into your driveway and walk up to the door of your home.
Hear the scampering feet of your children running up to you and putting their arms around your legs, saying, “Daddy’s home!” See the way they love and trust you.
Drink that in deeply.
Now, tell them to go outside and play because you must talk to Mommy about something. As you walk to the kitchen where she’s faithfully going about her day, look at those smiling pictures on the wall. Remember the happy days you shared together.
Lead her by the hand to your bedroom where you used to make love.
Ask her to have a seat.
Feel your heart scamper and the lump form in your throat.
See her eyes ask what’s wrong. Then watch her weep as you tell her you’ve been unfaithful.
Hear her wail.
See her sob.
Feel her hit your chest and fall to her knees in despair.
Imagine the phone call to her parents, and to yours. Hear the silence on the phone as they take in what you’ve told them.
Imagine the day you gather your children and sit them down to explain why Mommy and Daddy are going to spend some time apart and sell the house they love so much.
See yourself taking down those smiling pictures from the wall and taping up the moving boxes, unsure if you’ll ever open them again.
Do you see it?
Sin doesn’t tell you about those days, does it?
Sin Hides the Price Tag
Satan doesn’t tell you sin’s true cost, because the cost is too high.
He’s a liar (John 8:44) and deception is his forte (2 Cor. 11:3). He wants to lull you into thinking sin won’t cost you as much as it will. You can keep things hidden. You can get out at any time. Your compromises are small. They won’t lead to a great fall.
He only speaks lies.
Friend, sin is stronger than you or I will ever be.
Some of you are standing at a crossroads right now. You’ve been sipping on sin’s potion and are becoming intoxicated by its lies. Satan wants you to keep sipping so you’ll become drunk, unable to consider God’s warning of the destruction that lies ahead: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
If you are entangled in sin, call a trusted friend right now and tell them you need help. Don’t wait another minute. Sin wants you to think you can stop by yourself—don’t believe it. Secrecy is the ground in which sin grows strong.
If you think this could never happen to you, be careful. “Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Satan won’t mind you hearing this warning, as long as you don’t part with your sin.
Satan won’t mind you hearing this warning, so long as you don’t part with your sin. But John Owen’s counsel is always true: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Satan aims to destroy your life now, and to harden your heart so you’ll inherit eternal destruction.
Lift Your Eyes
Friend, Jesus is an all-sufficient Savior who shed his blood to save you from sin—on Judgment Day and every day before it. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Whether you’re a pastor or not, married or not, have children or not, we all need grace to resist the power of sin’s deception. Thankfully, Jesus promises to supply it.
Plead with God to help you see the end of your sin—and then flee to the Savior. Let the sobriety of sin’s end lift your eyes to where our help resides (Ps. 121:1). May we avoid the ruin Proverbs warns about:
Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” (Prov. 5:8–14)
Gracious Lord, we need help. Make us sober-minded. Keep us vigilant. Help us see the end of our sin.