Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Small Holes Sink Big Ships

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you ever stop to think that sin brings pleasure . . . that there are some delights in sin?

Leslie: Does that mean that you should sin? Well, you might want to look at the price tag. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will talk about it on Revive Our Hearts for Tuesday, April 2. As she continues in the series "Lies Women Believe About Sin," Nancy acknowledges that sin provides some level of enjoyment.

Nancy:  What are some of the pleasures that you can think of, when you think of sinful choices? What are some of the pleasures that we might experience as a result of making a sinful choice? 

Listener 1: A feeling of power.

Nancy: Sometimes we make a choice that we know is a sinful choice, but it brings the delight, the pleasure of being in charge.

Listener 2: Shopping can be very sinful.

Nancy: Shopping can be, not inherently, but it brings pleasure to see new things, have new things, buy new things. But if I’m buying things I can’t afford, then the pleasure is not going to last very long, is it?

What are some other kinds of pleasures or delights of sin? Gossip . . . does that bring pleasure? Gossip can bring the momentary pleasure of saying something that someone else doesn’t know, that I do know, but afterward it brings misery because we’ve shared something we shouldn’t have shared. There’s a pleasure, a delight there—it doesn’t last long, but it’s there.

What other kinds of pleasure can sin bring? Mary Jane says that if I speak an unkind word to my husband when he’s hurt my feelings, I have this feeling of justice. That is a delight, isn’t it, for a moment . . . a feeling of pleasure. Do you ever feel when you’re saying that harsh or critical or unkind word, that just getting it off your chest makes you feel a little bit better for a moment?

We can sometimes lie to people, wanting to be accepted, to make a good impression of ourself, wanting them to be our friend . . . and for a moment, for a period of time, there’s a pleasure, a delight that comes from that sinful choice.

The Scripture tells us in Hebrews 11 that sin has pleasure, but it says the pleasure of sin is just for a season. It doesn’t last. Ultimately, sin always exacts a devastating toll. And you know what? There are no exceptions.

We’re looking this week at some of the lies that we believe about sin, and I think perhaps the most fundamental one is the one we’ve been looking at over the past few days is that we can sin and get away with it.

Remember how the serpent came to Eve in the garden of Eden, and he said, “You can disobey God, and you can avoid negative consequences. You will not die.” He also said there would be some definite benefits she would experience: “Not only will you avoid death, but you will experience some definite benefits and pleasures if you eat.”

Genesis 3:5, “God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened.” Who doesn’t want opened eyes? “And you will be like God.” In effect, you can be your own god. “And you will know good and evil.” In other words, he’s saying, “There’s a whole realm of experience and knowledge available to you, if you will just eat.”

He’s saying, “Whatever consequences you may reap are worth the pleasure you will receive from having it your way.” If we didn’t think that there was some joy to be had from sinning, why would we do it in the first place?

Why would we tell that lie? Why would we get into that emotional attachment with another woman’s husband? Why would we procrastinate on our responsibilities? Why would we spend money we don’t have at the mall if we didn’t think there was some joy to be had? And there is, for the moment. I have a friend who keeps in his billfold a list of some of the consequences of sin.

He shared with me that, when he is tempted to sin, he will sometimes pull that list out of his billfold and just begin to remind himself of some of the consequences that Satan—for sure—is not reminding him of at that moment. Here are some of the things on his list:

                  Sin steals joy.

                  Sin brings guilt.

                  Sin gives Satan the upper hand.

                  Sin quenches God’s Spirit.

                  Sin causes ache in the soul.

                  Sin breaks God’s heart.

                  Sin opens the door to other sins.

                  Sin produces fear.

                  Sin makes me its slave, and on and on . . .

I wonder . . . if we would stop to think when we’re tempted to sin that these are some of the consequences we’re signing up for, might we not make different choices? When my friend pulls that list out of his billfold, what he’s really asking himself is, “Is this a price I really want to pay? Is this a price I can afford to pay?”

When I go into a store and I see a beautiful piece of jewelry or a lovely outfit that I think I would love to have, the first thing I do is look at the price tag. If it’s out of my budget, if I know it’s something I can’t or shouldn’t afford, that helps make my choice a lot easier.

Now, it doesn’t mean that maybe I still wouldn’t like to have that item, but it’s going to help my choice to realize, “I can’t afford that piece of jewelry or that outfit. In my budget and given the priorities that God has given me at this moment, I can’t afford that.” Wouldn’t it help if we would stop to think, “Can I afford what this may end up costing me when I make this choice?”

One of the problems is that the consequences of sin are not always seen immediately. When I buy something at that store I can’t afford, it’s going to come to me on my bank card statement within thirty days. But it doesn’t always happen that way with sin. Sometimes it does.

Do you remember how Ananias and Sapphira sinned? Theylied to the Holy Spirit about their giving habits, and—bam!—they were just dead. God struck them dead immediately, and needless to say, that brought some fear of the Lord on the church, on the other believers around them.

But God generally doesn’t deal with us that way. If He did, I think we would not be so quick to be deceived by this lie . . . if we could see the consequences immediately. Sometimes the consequences of our sins are not seen until months or even years down the road. Sometimes they don’t show up until the next generation, and some of the consequences and cost of our sins, I think, will be delayed until we stand before God at the judgment seat.

Then we look back, and we say, “This was a heavy toll, a high cost to pay.” I believe God often delays punishing our offenses or working out the consequences in our lives, partially to give us time, room, to repent. But the day of reckoning will come, and there will be that day when I will wish, and you will wish, that we had chosen the pathway of obedience. Don’t let it be when you’re seeing things in your grandchildren that you say, “Oh, Lord, if only I had made different choices . . . thirty, forty, fifty years ago.”

King Solomon knew a lot about the pleasures and the consequences of sin. For years he toyed with sin, he enjoyed its pleasures, and finally—and I think too late—came to this conclusion (he says in the book of Ecclesiastes): “Although the wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men who are reverent before God.” (see 8:12)

He says there are lots of people who sin, they seem to get away with it, they do lots of wicked things, and you can’t tell that they’re reaping any consequences in their lives. But he says, “I’ve come to believe, to know in my heart, that ultimately it will go better with the man who fears God and obeys Him.”

Then he says in Ecclesiastes 12, “Here’s the conclusion of the matter . . . when it’s all said and done, here’s the bottom line: Fear God and keep His commandments. Obey Him.” What is it that motivates him to fear God and keep His commandments? He says, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden or secret thing.” (see vv. 13–14)

God will bring every deed into judgment, including every sin that I have nursed or cherished or clung to in my heart that you will never know. Let me just ask us, “Is there a sin, or a set of sins, a particular kind of sin, that you have found yourself holding onto? You may not think of it as a great big thing—and we’re going to talk in the days ahead about how we weigh sins (some of them don’t seem so big to us).”

You’ve been thinking you could hold onto that unforgiving spirit, that laziness, that lack of discipline and self-indulgence, that self-pity, that lying tongue. You’ve been thinking that you could continue to persist in that sin and have not been thinking about the consequences, the cost.

What is the sin? Take just a moment now to think, “What could be some of the consequences in my life, down the road?”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh has been reminding us that choices have consequences. Through God’s help, you have the opportunity to make wise choices, investments in your future. Nancy will be right back with the second half of the program. Let me remind you that she writes more about how to avoid the consequences of sin.

You can read that in the book Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Not only does she address lies women believe about sin, she also exposes lies about ourselves, about God, relationships, marriage, and children. We’d like to send you a copy of Lies Women Believe. It’s our way of saying thanks when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for the book when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Now, let’s get back to the second half of today’s Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: We’ve all read or heard stories about the sinking of the ship, the Titanic in 1912 . . .  the nine-hundred-foot-long cruise ship that sank and took fifteen-hundred passengers to their deaths. It was the worst maritime disaster of that day. For years, people assumed the ship had hit an iceberg, which opened up a huge gash in the side of the ship.

But in more recent years, a team of divers and scientists went two-and-a-half miles deep into the water to explore the ruins, the remains, of that ship, and they discovered something surprising. They discovered that the damage was not, in fact, a huge gash. Rather, it was a series of six small splits in water-tight holds in the boat. It was small damage, invisible to most people. That was all that it took to destroy that huge ship.

We’re looking this week at lies that women believe . . . lies we believe about sin. I want us to turn our attention now to this lie: “My sin isn’t really that bad.” You know, the people in Jesus’ day, particularly the religious people, were kind of proud of the fact that they had not committed sins of murder or adultery. But when Jesus came on the scene, He gave them a different perspective on sin.

He said to them, “Yes, you may not have been guilty of these external, huge gashes in your life, but that’s not really the essence of sin.” Jesus wanted them to see that the essence of sin is a matter of the heart. He began to point the finger at these self-righteous, religious people who thought that their sin wasn’t all that bad. He wanted to show them that if they were guilty of anger or lust in their hearts, even if they hadn’t lived it out, if it had just been kind of invisible, under the surface . . . that was still deadly sin.

Those of us in this room come from many different backgrounds. Some of us have had the privilege of being raised in the church and in Christian homes, and we would not think of committing certain kinds of sins ourselves. We wouldn’t think of being a prostitute or having an abortion or living a homosexual lifestyle.

We wouldn’t consider using profanity. Growing up in my home, this was not an option. Some of us wouldn’t think about embezzling money from an employer or divorcing our mate. So it’s easy for those of us with that kind of background, to pride ourselves on the fact that our sin isn’t really “all that bad.”

Now, this is not a lie we would consciously believe, because in our hearts we would know “sin is sin” and God hates all sin. But when it comes down to it, we really think that we’re better off than certain other kinds of sinners who have done certain other kinds of sins.

Interestingly enough, some of us who might not participate in some of those obvious lifestyle, sinful choices, might think nothing of other kinds of sins, sins like: wasting time, talking too much, having a sharp or critical tongue, fear, worry, the whole issue of pride . . . my motives, my heart, my values. Many of us may not even think of some of those things as sins.

I don’t like to think of whining as a sin, but I do a lot of whining. Why does my whining not hit me the same way that I would think about someone else’s sin, in a particular sin of the flesh? Careless words . . . I think of how many times in the course of an average day I say things that either are not true, not kind, or not necessary, but do I think of those as some great big sin?

Subconsciously I think of my sin as not all that bad. In fact, it’s easy to justify some of those types of sins as not being sins at all. We think of them more as weaknesses or as struggles or as personality traits—that’s “just the way that I am.”

I think Eve could have viewed her sin in this way. She could have been deceived by this lie, “My sin isn’t really that bad.” After all, she didn’t leave her husband, she didn’t curse God, she didn’t deny God’s existence. All she did was take one bite of something that God told her not to eat. What’s the big deal?

I’ll tell you what’s the big deal. God said, “Don’t,” and Eve said, “I will.” That’s the big deal. This was really a battle of the wills. This was a battle for control. Now, that puts taking a bite of something I’m not supposed to eat into a little different perspective, when I see it that way. That one simple, single act produced enormous consequences . . . like a rock thrown into a pond.

There was a ripple effect—it just went on and on into the lives of many to follow. All of us, really, are reaping—in a sense—the consequences of her one, single sin. Through the Scripture you see the seriousness with which God views what we might consider as just a single, simple sin.

I think of how Moses struck the rock when God said, “Speak to the rock.” How many times in my wrath, my anger, do I take a matter further than it needs to be taken—further than I know God wants me to take it? I’ve just got to get my extra word in. I’ve got to get my barb in to wound the person who wounded me with their words.

God said, “Speak.” Moses struck the rock, and as a result, he missed out on the promised land. I think of Uzzah, reaching out to touch the Ark of the Covenant as it was on the oxcart. God had said, “Don’t touch the ark.” And Uzzah, apparently for reasons he thought were okay—or he didn’t stop to think at all—reached out to steady the ark. God was angered and struck him dead on the spot.

John Bunyan said, “One leak will sink a ship, and one sin will destroy a sinner.” Jeremy Taylor was a contemporary of John Bunyan, and he said it this way, “No sin is small. No grain of sand is small in the mechanism of a watch.” Just that little grain of sand will get a watch mechanism all out of order, and ultimately you’ve got a broken watch.

You go out on the beach, as I do sometimes on Lake Michigan, not too far from my home. In a storm where the wind is blowing and the sand is blowing, you get a little grain of sand in your eye. This grain of sand just seems so small, so insignificant. But ultimately, if you get it in your eye and can’t get it out, I’m told it can blind you.

The consequences of a single, simple sin can truly be disastrous. If you and I could only see that every, single sin is a big deal. My sin really isn’t that bad? Yes it is. Every sin is a big deal. Why? Because it’s a battle for control. Every time I sin against the Word of God or my conscience, I am committing cosmic rebellion against the God of the universe. I’m really saying, “Move over, God. I’d like to sit on Your throne for a while. I’d like to be in control here.”

Every time I choose my way over God’s way, I am really mounting an insurrection, a revolt against the God and King of the universe. That puts my sin in a whole different perspective. It makes me realize that every single one of my sins is serious to God, and ought to be serious to me.

How do you view your sin? Let me ask you that, particularly if you grew up in the environment that I did, where you never knew anything for years but to know God and to know His Word and to walk with Him. How do you view your sin? How do you view those inner sins of the spirit?

Do you see them as God sees them, or have you fallen into thinking, “My sins really aren’t all that great.” Have you found yourself, perhaps, justifying some sins of the Spirit? Have you found yourself justifying some little things, some little compromises, some carelessness with your tongue . . . some attitudes?

From God’s Word, they’re not right, they’re not holy, but you find yourself justifying, excusing them, maybe even blaming others, and thinking they’re really not that big a deal. What comes to mind when I talk about those kinds of issues?

Would you do what I’m asking God to do in my own heart in recent days? That is to say, “Lord, would you show me how You see my sin? Let me see my sin in the light of Your holiness. Show me Your view of my sin.” It was not the great big gash that took the Titanic down, and in many of our lives there may not be any great big gash that takes us down.

But as ships can sink with just a small series of slits in the side, things that we let go, we don’t intend to, or maybe we don’t even notice, those ultimately can be our downfall and destruction.

Leslie: “My sin isn’t really that bad.” Have you ever fallen for that lie? Nancy addresses this lie in her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. Here are some more lies she address in a chapter called "Lies Women Believe about Sin:"

                  I can sin and get away with it.

                  God can’t forgive what I’ve done.

                  I can’t walk in consistent victory over sin.

In this book, Nancy also addresses lies about circumstances, emotions, marriage, children, priorities and more. Would you think through some of the lies that tend to ensnare women? As you read, you’ll evaluate whether you’ve fallen for some of these lies, and you’ll discover the truth that will set you free.

Ask for the book when you call 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com

Why do you keep sinning, even when you know better? We’ll explore that tomorrow.

Nancy: The problem is that we tend to compare our sins and our lives to other people, and in comparison, we can always find some sinner that we think is a bigger sinner than we are. Honestly, it makes me a little comfortable to think that my next-door neighbor or my mate or my child or my parent would have some sins that are greater than mine.

It gets me off the hook a little bit, in my own mind, and I can begin to justify my own sins, because I compare them to the sins of others. I think of a conversation I had with a woman several years ago. Her husband was wrestling with some issues related to pornography.

This wife was distraught. She came to me when she learned he’d been dabbling in this, and she just could not fathom how this could be a snare to a man. Her mind doesn’t work like his, she’s not wired the way he is, and she just could not get over the fact that this would be a difficulty, a temptation, for her husband.

As we began to talk, it came out that she was really holding bitterness and unforgiveness toward her husband. I said to her, “You know, you will never be free until you come to see that your sin of bitterness and unforgiveness toward your husband is as serious an offense against God as is his struggle with these moral issues in his life.

Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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