There is a potent spiritual "drug" with horrible effects. It can warp, twist and DESTROY your spiritual life! That drug is SIN. God's people need to realize the DEVASTATING EFFECTS OF ALL SIN — especially as the Days of Unleavened Bread draw near!
MANY of us don't really grasp the all-encompassing seriousness of all that God calls sin. It's easy for us, even in God's Church, to fall into the error of thinking "little sins" are not all that bad. It's easy to become calloused as the result of contact with the prevailing attitude of a society indifferent to God's way, in rebellion toward God's Laws. Each sin has a cumulative effect, weakening and stunting one's spiritual growth. Each time we sin, it becomes a little bit easier to sin the next time — especially if we fail to repent deeply. Very soon we can become hardened to a particular sin, begin to think nothing of committing it again, and become lulled into a feeling of comfortable co-existence with it — forgetting the devastating effects of all sin!
From Embryo to Baby
The cumulative effect of sin on our spiritual development can be well visualized in terms of the analogy God uses — comparing our spiritual life as a Christian to the begettal and growth of a human baby. A tiny human embryo grows from an unbelievably small cell into a wonderfully organized, expertly designed baby, looking in most every respect like its parents. Similarly, on the spiritual plane, we also develop from a small beginning, with the potential to be born into God's Family as His spiritual sons — in the image of our spiritual Father! Have you seen, or ever been, an expectant father? Remember the excitement, the thrill, the exhilarating anticipation of the imminent birth of an heir? Our God is an expectant Father. He is anticipating our spiritual birth into His family — kingdom. He also is excited. One of the primary concerns of a human father at his child's birth is the question of deformity. Expectant parents wonder, "will our child be a whole, perfect, well-formed baby?" When the child is born most parents carefully check to see that all fingers, toes, etc. are there. For a growing number will come the anguished discovery of a physical lack or deformity! Every year a quarter million babies, in the United States alone, are born with abnormalities which may range from slight to such gross malformations as the flipper-like appendages instead of arms of the so-called "thalidomide babies." Some abnormalities in newborn children appear to be hereditary. But many must be attributed to adverse factors in their prenatal environment, which interfered with the execution of an otherwise perfectly designed plan of development. Many deformities are clearly the result of the prenatal influence of DRUGS. And thalidomide is just one example. The tiny developing fetus is well protected against extremes of heat and cold, and buffered against physical injury. But it is totally dependent for food, water, minerals and vitamins found in the body of its mother. If the mother carelessly or ignorantly fails to provide the essential amino acids, vitamins, or even iron, in her diet, abnormal development could result. On the other hand, the blood stream may also permit harmful — even poisonous substances, including drugs, to pass through the placenta, drastically affecting the unborn child. The poisoning effects of such factors can dramatically alter the development of the embryo, producing the horrifying, twisted results so many anguished parents are experiencing today.
The Spiritually Begotten Child
As God's spiritually begotten children, we are also subject to external influences which — if we allow them — will definitely have a deforming effect on us spiritually. But God is eagerly expecting and awaiting the birth of spiritually perfect sons. "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect [that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity]" (Matt. 5:48, Amplified Bible). It is our job to become perfect God's way. The big difference between a physical embryo and an unborn spiritual child of God, is that the spiritual child has the ability to determine its own development — while a physical embryo is completely subject to its environment. It cannot choose and determine whether deleterious substances will reach it through the blood stream. It has no opportunity to act or counteract — no knowledge, wisdom or decision-making ability. The physical embryo has no control over its end result. But despite the fact that we are spiritually yet unborn, we do have, as begotten sons of God, the ability (if we will) to shape our pre-birth development, and personally determine the external influences that mold us. We are dealing now, not with the physical formation of limbs and organs, but with the spiritual formation of character. God intends that we grow in mind and character — that we mature in godliness. This is a responsibility God has given us as His spiritually begotten sons. However, brethren, there is a tremendous power working through a myriad of external sources to ensnare and trap us. Satan has seduced and deceived all humanity (Rev. 12:9). In these end times there is nothing he enjoys more than to get into his clutches a potential son of God, and to bend, twist, pervert and DEFORM him!
The Deforming Effects of SIN!
Sin deforms! If we allow ourselves to sin and to become increasingly indifferent to God's commands, then we contribute to a spiritual deformity. If physical parents are horrified at deformities in their children, what about God? God's family is eternal. His mercy and justice will not allow spiritual mistakes in that family who would be an eternal liability — both to themselves or to others. Those who allow themselves to be twisted and perverted into spiritual "monsters" are simply not going to be born into that family! They will be spiritual miscarriages. In Revelation 21:7-8, God explains that the overcomers will be His sons, but the defectives will be annihilated for all eternity: "He who is victorious shall inherit all these things, and I will be God to him and he shall be My son. But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive; and as for the unbelieving and faithless; and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations; and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters [those who gave supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars [those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed, all of these shall have) their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death" (Amplified Bible). This is the long-term effect of sin. But do we keep the long-term effect in mind continually? As members of God's Church, God has given us the understanding of how best to shape our developing spiritual lives to resist Satan's wiles and not be plunged into even "little sins" with their spiritually deforming results. God has lovingly given us His royal law to protect us against the destructive external influences that can so readily twist us out of shape by poisoning our minds. But it is so easy to allow one sin after another to pervert us, in spite of God's warning that the perverseness or transgressors shall destroy them" (Prov. 11:3). The harm and heartache of deformed children is only too real when presented to us in the tangible form of grotesquely malformed limbs and flesh. Regrettably, the impact does not seem as great when we think in spiritual terms. For God's people, however, the impact should be even greater!
Guard Your Mind
James was inspired of God to write: "Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire [lust, passions). Then the evil desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully matured brings forth death" (James 1:14-15, Amplified Bible). There is a plain warning! Our minds are subject to enticement through evil desire. The sin which begins in our minds, unless resisted, can lead to our death. And don't kid yourself! God's people are not immune to the barrage of influences from society that daily pummels our minds. You have human nature. You have desires. These pulls and passions, under Satanic worldly influence, will lead you if you give them the slightest leeway. If you refuse to realize that you can sin, and neglect to guard against it, then you're on the threshold of trouble — and the fate of a spiritual simpleton. Your mind is priceless! Combined with God's Spirit, it becomes the embryonic beginning of a unique, eternal, spirit being in God's family. You have the power to direct that mind, to open or close its doors to whatever you will. Is your mind guarded in a manner befitting the priceless treasure it is? "Keep thy heart [mind} with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23).
"As It Was In The Days of Noah"
It takes an urgent, strong, driving effort to control your mind — it is not easy. At this time, of all times, our minds need diligent, wholehearted persistent protection. In the days of Noah, God saw "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5, Amplified Bible). Our day, again — as prophesied (Matt. 24:37-39) — is just such a time when the human mind, as an instrument capable of conceiving and communicating unimaginable torrents of totally demented Satanic filth, is giving itself over to such. Society is being inundated and saturated with it. Precious little can be labeled "godly." Stealing, lying, cheating, hating, violence and all types of sexual looseness are condoned. People say what they like, write what they like and do what they like. This is just what Satan wants. He knows that once sin has started to deform a mind, its hold is so tenacious, its call so appealing, its short-term "benefits" and attractions so exciting, that even a once-converted mind can rapidly degenerate into the mire of this world and lose all concern for a God-plane relationship and eternal future with our Creator! "The wicked man is doomed by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him" (Prov. 5:23, Living Psalms and Proverbs). To the mind devoid of God's judgment, stolen waters are the sweetest (Prov. 9:17). There is an illicit attraction in things known to be wrong, yet appearing to be pleasing or thrilling.
God's Law Protects
By their actions, words and thoughts, some in God's Church appear to be saying they want to become twisted, deformed spiritual embryos. But how ironic. The very ones who seek the thrills, the "fun," the kicks, are the ones who receive the kick-backs, the headaches, the "mornings after the nights before." THEY REAP THE PENALTY FOR GOING THE WRONG WAY! As our spiritual Father, God has wrapped us in a protective environment delineated by His Law. As a spiritual parent He is concerned about keeping us from all harm, wrong emotions, degenerative tendencies. David thrilled to this knowledge of God's Law: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Ps. 19:7-11). God's laws, revealed to us in their spiritual intent, provide us with an effective Early Warning System. Written in our minds, they clearly delineate the limits of right and wrong, and cry out a warning when we carelessly get too close to the edge! How concerned most of us are when we have a physical unborn baby to protect and nourish! How industriously and thoughtfully we restrict the intake of anything that may be even remotely harmful. How particular we are about observing all the rules and regulations designed for the protection and healthy development of that tiny child. But when it comes to the protection and care of ourselves as unborn spiritual babies, is there the same diligent caution?
Do You REALLY HATE Sin?
God bates evil because He realizes its deforming effects on our spiritual character. If we are to remain unmarred by the evil influences gripping this society, we too must hate the wrong and flee its clutches. If we are close to God we will hate what God hates. We will be developing the mind and attitude of our Father. "If anyone respects and fears God, he will hate evil. For wisdom hates pride, arrogance, corruption and deceit of every kind" (Prov. 8:13, Living Psalms and Proverbs). But do you, as a member of God's Church, have such awe and fear of God, and consequently such hate and abhorrence of all evil ways and influences? Or are you easily tempted, easily attracted by that which you know is wrong, yet somehow just can't resist? Have you found that certain things you would not have done earlier in your Christian life don't appear so bad now? Have you gradually come to feel that gossip, lusting, coveting, lying and other "little sins" aren't too bad after all? If you have so foolishly tolerated such permissiveness and complacency in your Christian life, then WAKE UP! God says, "The foolishness of man perverteth his way" (Prov. 19.3). If you compromise with sin, you are allowing, in spite of God's warning, your spiritual shape to be twisted and distorted, your embryonic spiritual character to become malformed, unfit to be born into God's glorious kingdom! Joseph hated the illicit sexual suggestions proposed by Potiphar's wife because he knew God designated this as evil. Under stress of temptation, he was able to say, "How then can I do this great wickedness and SIN against God?" (Gen. 39:9.) For him, to submit to evil became a direct effrontery to God. Does the same hold true for you? DO you successfully resist temptation, even in areas of particular weakness because, for God's and your sake, you want to be a clean, pure, spiritually well-formed son in His Kingdom? Notice once more David's attitude toward sin and evil. See how God's Law provided the warning system and barricade against character-deforming influences. David declared: "Since only your rules can give me wisdom and understanding, no wonder I hate every false teaching.... Every law of God is right, whatever it concerns. I hate every other way... How I hate all falsehood, but how I love your laws" (Ps. 119:104, 128, 163, Living Psalms and Proverbs). God's standards are the only ones which will provide the type of environment needed for spiritual perfection. If we work at steeping ourselves in God's Word, learning His Law, asking for wisdom to apply it, and accepting correction from it, then we will be purposefully creating the spiritual surroundings needed to develop a perfect spiritual son of God. Remember, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16-17). Any evil, any sin, "big" or "little," will separate you from God (Isa. 59:1-2). The stakes are high — far higher than the desire for a physically perfect baby. By submitting to sin, and playing with tantalizing temptations, you are meddling with eternal life. You are tampering with the one characteristic that is destined to live forever — your spiritual character!
Examine Your Life
So, brethren, let's EXAMINE our lives carefully at this season of the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. Do you bate evil as Joseph and David did? Are you allowing evil to pervert and destroy your most precious possession — your mind? Is the effect of sin on your character real to you? For some, the reality will never fully dawn until the moment they are to become spiritual miscarriages — disposed of for all eternity. God as a Father is deeply concerned: "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:4). But it is your responsibility to yield to God's calling and be purged — of your sins! "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:7-9). Your success in becoming a well-formed spiritual son of God depends on the seriousness and depth of your view of sin. See sin as God sees it. Thank God that He will pardon sin, and clean you up when you falter. Purge your life of all sins, brethren, and strive to walk pleasing before God!