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The Tug of Sin

Our choices reveal our desires. Jesus told his followers that, “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” The question we should ask is, “What are our words and choices revealing about our hearts?” In the end, unless our hearts are centered on Christ, sinful desires can pull us under. Recently my wife and I decided that it was time for us to purchase a used vehicle. I am sure that many of you have undertaken this adventure with mixed success. We started with a general idea of what we wanted; ideally, a wagon type vehicle with AWD and low miles. With this and a price limit, we began the adventure. Whenever you place constraints on how much to spend, you are likely to feel a tug to spend more. Why? Because unless you have no limit on what you can spend, it may be difficult to find your ideal car. Prioritizing our criteria will help us find an acceptable solution even if it is short of our ideal. For us, our top priority was to keep the cost under the agreed price. Nevertheless, we still felt the tug to spend a little more to get closer to that ideal car. We were tempted to test drive that “perfect car” just to see what it was like even though it was above our price range. However, yielding to this desire could open the doors to either being sucked into spending more than we had budgeted or cause buyer’s remorse thinking, “If only!” when we purchase a cheaper vehicle. This tug to compromise effects not only our purchase choices but also our moral choices. We may find ourselves making moral compromises that cause us to ask ourselves, “How did we get here?” Proverbs 7 offers us the answer by using the example of lust to illustrate the problem and solution. The chapter opens with simple words, “Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands. Obey my commands and live! Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” The advice is to remember God’s word for it will guard your hearts. Guard them against what? The tug of sin! Proverbs tells us about a street where a woman “dressed like a prostitute” lives; she is looking for “naive young men who lack common sense” in hopes of seducing them. Verse 8 tells us, “He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house.” If this were a movie, the theme song of Jaws would be playing. The woman’s intentions are not for the young man’s good – and the young man knows this. Just as we know that taking a car that we cannot afford for a test drive will not increase our satisfaction, the young man crosses the street, seeing how close to the fire he can get. Yet, he will likely find that the tug will turn into a pull and eventually he will find himself in the fire. What is the solution? “So listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path.” (24-25) Don’t even go down her street for you know that it leads nowhere good. We may want to say, “What’s the harm as long as I don’t stop at her house? However, the heart problem is that we go down the street hoping to justify our irresistible urge to stop. “It wasn’t my fault…” The problem doesn’t start with the seduction; the problem begins with the naive heart that walks into folly. Because the heart is difficult to control, some will desire to regulate behavior through laws. An article in recently discussed this reporting citizen complaints about a local business’ window displays. Residents wanted the displays removed to protect minors from viewing what they found offensive. Nevertheless, as Logan City Attorney Kymber Housley said, "Not everything that may be considered bad taste is necessarily criminal." What is the solution? Certainly, citizens can and should present their objections to their civil leaders but ultimately we cannot legislate morality. Prohibition clearly illustrated this principle. New hearts not new laws are what we need to resist the pull of evil desires. As Paul instructs, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

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