One movie I can never pass by when flipping through the channels on television is A Few Good Men. In the movie, Tom Cruise played a military lawyer, named Daniel Kaffee, who defended two U.S. Marines charged with killing a fellow Marine at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Kaffee was essentially a used car salesman lawyer, who exclusively negotiated plea bargains, to the extent he had never seen the inside of a courtroom. Because higher ups did not want a trial, Kaffee was chosen over more qualified lawyers to take the case. After a dramatic courtroom scene, Kaffee turned around while exiting and remarked, “So this is what a courtroom looks like.”
Recently, that scene came to mind while witnessing and experiencing the consequences of another’s sin. While sin can have a temporary shiny veneer, and in the moment feel good, it nevertheless leads to darkness. The darkness may come quickly, or it may linger off in the distant future, or it may come in an unrecognized form, but it comes nevertheless, and it comes to steal, kill and destroy.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy . . . .
This particular sin led to anger, yelling, tears, broken hearts, remorse, disappointment, breach of trust, and potentially fractured relationships. After moving beyond the peak of the drama, standing among the rubble, I took a deep breath and thought,
So, this is what sin looks like.
The Bible plainly teaches that all are sinners, so I am no stranger to committing, witnessing or experiencing sin. However, there are times when God reveals a particular spiritual truth in a glaring and moving way, and this was one of those times for me.
As the destruction and desolation unfolded, I was able to observe and experience the consequences of this person’s sin in vivid detail. I looked around at all of the people adversely affected by one seemingly small act of depravity, and it was a Kaffee courtroom experience.
It is so easy for Christians to dismiss or gloss over sin. Everybody does it, right? So what’s the big deal? And we are forgiven, right? Isn’t that what the Cross was all about?
While it is true that a believer’s sins were forgiven on the Cross, he is not spared sin’s sting. Sin works its way through believers’ hearts, lives and relationships like a deadly poison.
Picture Frodo Baggins on his long and tortuous journey to the land of the Elves after being pierced by the Witch-King of Angmar’s poisoned Morgul-blade, spared becoming a wraith only by the healing of Elrond, the Elven Lord of Rivendell.
While in the moment, sin can be alluring and pleasurable. This is where Satan thrives, whispering lies into the ear of a believer that sin is better than following God, just as he deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve took and ate of the forbidden fruit and was pleased and then enticed Adam to also ignore God’s instruction. And the consequence was literally deadly, as that was the moment when death entered the world as the penalty for sin.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned . . . .
That moment of worldly pleasure in eating what Adam and Eve thought was a simple piece of fruit resulted in a curse on all Creation (Genesis 3:16-19), which is described as a mother in childbirth, groaning in eager expectation of Christ’s renewal.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Though Adam and Eve were forgiven, the darkness still came, and not just to them, but to all Creation for all generations to come.
While some sins may seem inconsequential at the time or may seem private and personal, Christians must always be mindful of the consequences of sin and the ensuing darkness, and not just consequences to themselves, but also to those around them and to those who come after them.
Disregard for the gravity and consequences of sin is the result of a lie whispered in the believer’s ear by Satan. The serpent was banished from the Garden of Eden along with man, and on this side of the Cherubim and flashing sword guarding the gate (Genesis 3:24), he constantly strikes at man’s heel, his poison bringing darkness and destruction as if by a Morgul-blade.
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3: 14-15.
Examples abound illustrating the extent and severity of consequences following sin. Consider flagrant sins, such as infidelity, divorce, abuse, addiction, gambling, and the like. The darkness and destruction to the sinner and to all those close to the sinner are obvious and long-lasting.
But even “smaller” sins, such as dishonesty, hatred, anger, love of money, gossip, disrespect, and the like, have similar results, even if the darkness is not as apparent or immediate.
But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.
And sin can result in a dulling of the mind, making sin easier to choose the next time.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
This is what scripture means when it warns against giving “the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:27. The more one sins, the easier sinning becomes, and the greater influence Satan acquires.
Yet Christians con themselves into believing that there are no consequences to sin, or that the consequences are insignificant, or that the consequences are merely private and personal. Such an egocentric view of sin is toxic, and not just to the sinner, but to his friends and loved ones around him.
A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
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