Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Guilty pleasure. . .

"Serving God does not give us the same kind of here-and-now pleasure that sin gives. To eyes as little trained to reality as ours, there is a color and energy in sin, by comparison with which virtues look pallid and half-alive." -- Frank Sheed

Often the complaint is made that sin is fun and virtue is dull as a doorknob.  There are those who attempt to defend righteousness from this charge and to suggest that being good is a different kind of fun/pleasure than being bad.  You can talk all day on that one but our hearts, still prone to sin, know better.  Sin is fun as fun has been defined by our hearts since the fall and virtue is the foreign and alien good that the Holy Spirit must teach.

The pleasure of sin lies in the moment, the indulgence and the thrill of pursuing the forbidden as much as obtaining it.  It is the child in us that knows the bad and can hear the voice of the absent parent warning and still does what they know is wrong.  Nothing can replace the attraction of this as long as we inhabit this mortal flesh.  That is what it means to live in a sinful world and to await the perfection in holiness which will not come until God finishes in us His new creation.

This is why you cannot argue people into doing what is right when their hearts want something else.  the pent up passion of the sinful heart is unleashed in the moment of sin to produce a sort of serotonin effect.  Sure it does not last but neither does a great meal.  Sure it will awaken to regret and perhaps even guilt and shame but so does too much of a great scotch.  We know all this and still sin has us in the grasp of its forbidden pleasures in a way that virtue does not.

The Holy Spirit knows this full well even if we do not.  The Spirit is at work teaching holiness, equipping us for good works, changing the desires of our hearts, and making us into the good and pure that God has declared us to be but this is a slow process and a deliberate one.  It is like learning to walk again after some injury has made it painful or difficult.  We make progress that is largely unseen to us and known better to God (and perhaps those around us) but we do so against a constant and present desire that will not die until we are dead.  Such is the good fight of faith that is our daily battle.

Those who expect that one day we will awaken to love righteousness more than sin and no longer have to battle against the desires of the flesh, the allure of the world, or the temptations of the devil are just plain deluded.  Those who expect that one day we will suddenly decide righteousness is more fun than sin are waiting for a day that will take too long in coming or never come until God brings us to the new flesh, the new heavens, and the new earth.  And it is foolish for us to talk to Christians as if they will finally win out and no longer be caught in the tension of their desires and the righteousness they knew they should love.

The eyes see the things of this world as they are not and the things of God as they are not.  For this reason we walk by faith and not by sight.  God help us.  Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. 


ErnestO said...

By design the church’s holiness lies in its being separated from the world, called by God the elect people of faith serve Him (1 Peter 2:9–10).

John Joseph Flanagan said...

The pleasures of sin are momentary and produce guilt in the believer, while the unbelieving suppress and harden their consciences. Practicing righteousness and self denial brings you inner peace. And it is true that the Holy Spirit is integral to our Christian walk and sanctification. Sin and the pleasures of sin remain at the door of our hearts and minds continually, but reliance on Christ and frequent prayer helps us on this difficult journey through life.

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