Sin and Its Effects and Cure (6)
Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction. Psalm 73.18
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
In his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming,” Irish poet William Butler Yeats envisioned the world spiraling away from its master and perch, deaf to the call to return home and headed on a course of dissolution and oblivion.
He might have been explicating Paul’s teaching in Romans 1.
As we saw previously, when people flee their perch on the arms of God – when they deny Him Who makes Himself clearly known to them – then they’re on their own, and they will enlist some deity agreeable to their thinking and desires, even though this is nothing but the product of their own best ideas.
The result, Paul says, is that God allows them to go their way and do their thing. He “gives them up,” the apostle writes, reluctantly and gradually, to a downward spiral of sin, degradation, corruption, and death.
They’re on a slippery slope, and they either don’t know it or think they can tread it safely. It’s our duty to warn them of what lies ahead.
You may find, as you share the Gospel with the people in your Personal Mission Field, that some will indicate they’re not really interested in Jesus or His offer of forgiveness and eternal life. That, they might suppose, will be the end of the matter.
But before the conversation ends, ask permission to explain one more thing. Say to your friend, “I know you won’t agree with this, but I want you to understand where, according to Scripture, your refusing God’s offer leaves you.” It is important, in sharing the Good News, that we help people see what the Bible says about where they stand, as long as they reject the offer of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
Most people will humor you and allow you to continue. And so you should.
Lost and getting “loster”
First, say to those who reject the offer of the Gospel that the Bible teaches that they are still in their sins. There’s that problem again, that tragedy of sin. Apart from Jesus Christ there is no forgiveness of sin, no power against sin, and no ability to atone for sin by one’s own efforts. Sin doesn’t go away just because we refuse to deal with it. All who reject Jesus remain in their sin.
Then you’ll want to ask, “Do you understand what the Bible teaches about where you are with respect to your sin?” Don’t expect them to agree with you; you just want to make sure they understand what the Bible teaches. Our duty is to make the Good News clear, in all its facets. God will do with His Word what He chooses (Is. 55.10, 11).
Next, explain that this condition is going to get worse. Because they’re still in their sin and have rejected the only power Who can extricate them from sin, the powerof sinis going to increase in their life. In fact, you could confidently tell them in the years to come, it’s not unlikely they will find themselves doing or thinking or desiring things that today they consider to be distasteful, undignified, or downright dirty.
People trapped on the slippery slope of sin are caught in that downward spiral where, because they will not listen to the voice of God, they will be dragged by the quicksand of the spirit of the age as it cycles downward toward the ultimate drain of degradation and death.
So tell your friends, “You’re still in your sins, and it’s going to get worse.” They’re lost and they’re going to get, well, loster. Think of all the times Ezekiel told this to the people of Israel in his day. And why did he do it? So that when this actually began to happen, and the people became aware of it, they would know that God is Lord and His Word is true.
Finally, you’ll want to tell them, “If you continue in your sin until death, you will spend eternity beyond the grave in miserable separation from God, with no hope of liberation from despair, corruption, and the consequences of your chosen path of unbelief.” Then say, “I know you don’t believe this; but do you understand it? Do you understand where dying in your sins will leave you? Do you understand what the Bible teaches about sin and its effects in your life?”
A slippery slope
We want people to see that, like Asaph explained in Psalm 73, sin is a slippery slope. No solid footing exists for those who think to make their way in life following their own best ideas about truth, goodness, morality, and happiness. One sin leads to another, leads to another, leads to more. We will sin then lie to ourselves, then sin without so much as even thinking about it. And this happens because sin has real power to destroy our will to do what our consciences dictate, what we know to be right (Rom. 2.14, 15).
Look, if someone was heading down a treacherous hillside from which you had been rescued – by the help of a gracious and redeeming Savior – wouldn’t you warn them against it? Wouldn’t you tell them it’s a slippery slope, and that there’s only one way to safety and sure-footing?
Of course you would. Then why do we continue to remain silent about the slippery slope of sin? And why do we hold our tongues when the Good News of the Gospel might give the people we know a hand-up off the slippery slope that leads to death?
1. Have you identified and begun working your Personal Mission Field? Watch this brief video (click here), then download the worksheet that goes with it and get started.
2. Why is sin like a slippery slope? What makes it that way? Why does this make it so important that we check sin – recognize, expose, and resist it – as soon as we become aware of it?
3. Why is the knowledge of sin and judgment an integral part of the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Next steps – Conversation: After you have mapped out your Personal Mission Field, share it with a Christian friend, and ask your friend to pray for you as you begin working your Personal Mission Field.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.