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From the Pastor's Pen

Poisoning the Pot


Pastor Clarence E. Byerly

June 1999

One of the first stops my family and I make when we go to the National Zoo in Washington is the Amazon Building. It is fascinating to view the exotic plants and animal life of the jungle. I enjoy observing a species of Amazon frog that is stunningly beautiful, but very poisonous. It's bite kills.

As I drove into the church parking lot this morning as I write this article, there was a message on our big sign board. It said, "Sinfully means more than a good dessert."

Let me offer a brief definition of sin since people define it in so many different ways. Sin is to miss God and the purpose he has for our lives. Yes! Immorality is sin, but only in the sense that it corrupts and destroys our relationship with God. We often define sin as anything that doesn't meet with our expectations but sin has to do with offending a Holy God.

Many people are caught up in sinful, destructive lifestyles. People vow to live better but they don't. They continue to make choices that poison their lives. Sin has left them hating themselves, closed off to God's blessings, and living outside the boundaries of God's purpose.

A recent reading of Deuteronomy spoke to me so forcefully about this matter of sin. As Moses gave his final instructions before the Israelites marched into the Promised Land, he cautioned against turning away from God. Moses said sin plants a "root among you that produces such bitter poison" (Deut 28:18).

The Bible says sin looks very attractive on the surface but its bite poisons and kills us spiritually.

Sin begins with a small decision that doesn't seem earth-shattering. Yet, in that very moment, we are planting a bitter root into our lives that will poison us. The choices of our lifestyle planted today will fester and become open sores tomorrow.

In the words of St. Augustine's Confessions, "Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God." The moment we allow sin to enter our lives, we have degraded both ourselves and our Creator. Something ominous and dark begins eating away at the core of our character. The ultimate irony is that God gets left out of our lives.

Whatever the action -- fornication, adultery, stealing, lying, greed, refusing to gather with God's people to worship and study God's word, or some addiction -- when we crack the door to sin, we are releasing a bitter poison that emotionally disrupts and spiritually destroys. What seemed to be the freedom of "paradise" soon becomes our prison.

The flip side of sin is righteous living. God honors and blesses righteous living. God has a moral standard that does not change with the whim of feeling and the fad of time.

We try to absolve ourselves of our wrong but it won't work. We need a Savior who can impart His perfect righteousness into our lives and bring cleansing to us. Salvation brings forgiveness of past failures, transforms us into new persons, and empowers us to live by God's moral standard.

Have you been cleansed of your wrongdoing before God by genuinely seeking the help of Jesus Christ in your life?

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Updated November 14, 1999