Are you an effective salesperson for sin?
No, I’m not referring to causing others to stumble—although the Bible has harsh words for when we do. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, ESV)
What I meant was, are you able to persuade yourself of sin’s pleasure without ever mentioning its pain?
I will admit it: sin doesn’t always appear sinful to me. Sometimes I am skilled at seeing beauty in what God says is ugly. Arguing my wife into a corner to get my way sometimes looks more pleasing to me than serving her sacrificially as Christ loved me.
I don’t know if you can relate, but a brief moment of lust can look more attractive than the wholesome beauty of a pure heart. Being the center of attention can feel better than humbly pointing to God’s glory in everything I do.
Do you experience similar struggles?
God calls us to be people on guard, always warning ourselves that on the other side of his boundaries is danger, destruction, and death. The Word of God is full of warnings and case studies that hold before the reader the bitter harvest of rebellion.
Hell is one of those reminders. I’ve been writing about hell recently—an uncomfortable, terrifying, but necessary doctrine. Yes, the doom of hell awaits with unending torment and inhumanity, but the warning of hell is a beautiful display of mercy from a just and loving Judge.
Hell reminds us that nothing in this present life is more important than a relationship with God. The dark side of eternity prompts us to please God more than ourselves. Eternal damnation spurs us on to pursue spiritual blessings more than physical pleasures.
If hell is real and as full of torment as the Scriptures describe, then we must live with that same kind of seriousness in the here and now. We must prohibit ourselves from minimizing what God says is wrong, and we need to surround ourselves with people who encourage us to take God at his word.
Since one of the devil’s principal tricks is to present sin as significantly more harmless than it is, the commitment to name sin as nothing less than evil must stay with us as long as sin remains inside us and outside temptations continue to entice.
Be sobered by the existence of hell, and be thankful for the final justice of God. Eternity reminds us that there is a Judge of all things who keeps perfectly accurate records. No evil escapes his eye. He will never be tricked into seeing evil as good or injustice as just. The day will come when he will say, “Enough is enough,” and will proclaim just judgment on all that is evil.
Until then, we should be thankful that his justice waits. Each day he gives every human being one more opportunity to confess, repent, and accept the gift of eternal life.
All of us deserve the penalty of hell, but Jesus came to live the life we could not live and to die the death we deserved to die so that we might know God’s forgiveness and eternal acceptance and escape the eternal doom of the dark side of forever.
Now that is reason to celebrate.
Paul David Tripp
1. Have you caused someone to stumble recently? Do you need to confess and repent for something specific?
2. Have you minimized the effects of your sin on other people? How is it more damaging than you want to admit?
3. Identify a recent moment when sin looked more beautiful than evil. What was it so enticing? What was the false reward that it held before you?
4. How is obedience to God its own reward? Remind yourself (or others, if in a group) of the delight and pleasure that come with following the Lord.
5. How can you take advantage of God sparing his judgment on those who don’t yet believe? Who do you have a relationship with who does not yet know the forgiveness of Christ?