How Can We Avoid Falling into Sin?
So, what do you learn from this? Watch out, be careful if you think you stand lest you fall. You could think, can’t you reach some level of holiness where you’re walking with the Lord so closely that this couldn’t happen to you? No David wrote psalms. Dave was the man after God’s own heart. None of us has ever been like David was to that degree and yet if we neglect our souls this can happen. How we need to guard our hearts, guard our eyes, flee youthful lusts, protect our thoughts. And a really important lesson is don’t think that you can toy with sin without experiencing the consequences.
One of the outlines we’re not gonna go through in detail, the audio’s online if you wanna listen to it, it’s called The Pain of Porn, and a problem with lustful thoughts, and it can be mental porn or it can be looking at porn, is lust is never satisfied. Lust always wants more. I think with sin, and it can be the sin of by the way anger, bitterness, fear, covetousness, we think we can manage it and we’ve got this monster. We think we can keep it small and keep it in a cage but it’s gonna grow really fast. Sooner or later the man who has been looking at the swimsuit pictures on the sports page will no longer be satisfied by swimsuit pictures and he’s gonna wanna see more, and more, and more. And soon he’s not gonna be satisfied with pictures and he’s going to be going off to a strip club, or finding a prostitute, or having an affair. That’s the dangerous picture James paints. That if you are allowing a sin in your heart to continue it’s going to grow and it’s going to give birth, not to a beautiful eight pound little girl, but to a hideous monster that will kill you. And it’s very dangerous and that’s why I’ve used this strong language. If lust has been conceived what must you do? You must abort it. And even late-term abortions are allowable in this case. I’m using deliberately shocking language. That this sin will kill you, it will destroy you. Again, no excuse for a literal abortion of a real baby but the picture here, and again, same thing. A woman is allowing bitterness to rage in her soul and she’s bitter against her husband and she’s cold towards her husband and she allows it to grow, and to grow, and to grow, and she doesn’t deal with it in a Godly way. Either through forgiving and moving on or confronting in a biblical way and as that sinful desire grows in her heart it’s gonna have awful impact on her marriage and on her relationship with her husband. Anger, as well. Any kind of sin will kill you. That sinful desires produce sinful acts. And, of course, then positively how important it is to nurture our own relationship with God. That even if you were walking with God and greatly used of Him two years ago it’s possible, if it could happen to David it could happen to you, to drift to a place of vulnerability.
Another lesson, this is also very practical for counselees, is stay busy fulfilling the calling God has given you. I had a counselee who came to me and when he was supposed to be at work, and he was a private contractor so he just worked for himself when he had work, and he would tell his wife he was going off to work but instead he was going to the casino where he was gambling and in addition to gambling he was also drinking. Obviously gambling addiction, drinking, those are sinful patterns but if he’d been doing his job he wouldn’t have been doing that. So to be busy in idleness is very, very dangerous. One thing I can’t quite figure out is summer vacation for kids. Is that a good thing for a 16 year old, 15 year old, to have nothing to do for three months? With the television and the internet and all the temptations that exist in our culture, or just hanging out. To be busy fulfilling your calling because idleness is destructive. I think it was Matthew Henry who said, “The bed of sloth is the bed of lust.” To be busy in the home, in your church, in your vocation. Obviously to guard your marriage in terms of sexual sin. Not just the sexual part of your marriage but the closeness and the intimacy. I don’t think David ever really got the kind of personal love and intimacy that a man and a wife ought to have. I don’t think you can do that when you’ve got a bunch of wives. But to have the oneness of person and then, yes, to find joy in each other expressing that love. And then you would say to the person who’s single, “You, too, need to guard your marriage, which we hope is in the future, by not doing things now that you will have to confess you will regret and could keep you from being with the person you would like to be with.” And then back to flee youthful lusts. Jesus uses radical language, too. If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. To do whatever it takes to abort the sin.
In practical terms many people who are dabbling with sin, lust conceived, think they can handle it on their own. That, again, concrete example, had a guy who was actually a deacon in his local church, not ours, who was going to strip clubs and getting lap dances from the strippers there. And his conscience was troubled and he came to me but he was really convinced that if I just gave him some good advice he could handle it, that he could stop this. And part of my answer was, well I can tell you this, if you tell your wife and you tell your pastor you’re gonna get a lot of help. If you’re really serious about stopping this, and I believe your wife has a right to know since you’ve been violating your marriage vow in a significant way. But if you really are determined to kill the sin it’s not a matter of starving the dragon it’s a matter of killing the dragon. And as long as this secret thing is going on and you don’t have the accountability you need, if you’re serious about it, “Don’t just put a patch on the eye, pluck it out,” Jesus says. Take radical action, seek accountability.
And then there is hope. There is hope for sinners that Psalms 32, Psalms 51 where David confesses his own sin. He says, “And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” That the Lord did restore David by God’s grace. Even if you’ve fallen into the sin that because the son of David, Jesus has come not as David who was a king who ended up taking but a king who gave his life. That through Christ those who confess their sin can be justly forgiven. One of the most important things about studying a chapter like this, I think one reason it’s in the Bible is when you see David, and up until now David was kind of your greatest hope ever that there’d be a true man who could really be worthy to lead the people of God and yet he failed. It makes you thankful for Christ, who was tempted to every possible degree. Never sinned, never failed. Where David failed to keep the covenant, Christ has perfectly kept the covenant for His people. And now our guilt has been laid upon Him and the demands of the law have been satisfied by His death for us. But also the righteousness that each one of us lacks has been imputed to us because He kept covenant, He kept God’s law for us and He is the King. The King who is worthy, the King who saves His people, and the King who has set us free. Back to what we talked about in terms of sanctification. David didn’t have to do this and we don’t have to do this. That because of what Christ has done for us, what Romans 6 describes is that the power of sin has been broken over us. And we have the power in Christ when we have a sinful desire to abort it as our old self, we consider ourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God and Christ, our old self has truly died with Christ and we are new in Him. And this doesn’t have to be repeated in our lives.