Best of Daily Reflections: Isn’t Sin More Fun?
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Years ago, I was leading a Bible study for college students. As we were looking at a passage of Scripture that spoke negatively of sin, one of my students spoke up bravely: "I just don't get it," she said. "I know sin is supposed to be bad and I shouldn't do it. But I look at my life and then I look at the lives of my non-Christian friends. I sit in Bible studies and go to prayer meetings. I don't sleep around or party. Meanwhile, my friends are doing all the wrong things, the things I consider to be sin. But they seem to be having a blast. Isn't sin more fun?"
I was surprised by my student's honesty. I admired her guts. My guess was–and still is–that most Christians have had the same questions about sin, but haven't been willing to vocalize them. In a way, sin does appear to be more fun than righteousness. Yet the Bible sees sin as something terrible, something that is permeated by death, not life. How are we to make sense of this?
After my student asked her bold question, I put it out to the group: "Is sin more fun? From your own experience, or from that of your friends, what do you think?" As others began to share, they agreed that certain sinful behaviors seem to be more fun, at least at first. But they also talked about the pain that often lies beneath the surface or the sorry consequences of sinful choices. The young woman who sleeps around doesn't find the real love her heart desires. Or the guy who gets drunk every weekend has the imminent penalty of a hangover, not to mention the disarray of a life dominated by partying.
I pointed out that Scripture itself teaches us that sin can appear to be the most fun. In Genesis 3, when the serpent tempted the woman to eat the forbidden fruit, we read, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it" (3:6). According to the text, the fruit was in fact "good (tasty)," "pleasing," and "desirable." But the choice to do what God had forbidden had dire consequences.
In retrospect, I wish I had asked the group about what in their lives had given them the greatest joy. My guess is that they would have talked about experiencing love among family and friends. Some would have talked about how it felt to embrace poor children in Mexico on mission trips. I believe their life experience would have shown, not only that sin leads ultimately to pain, but also that living for God is the most rewarding and delightful way to live. Sin leads to death. Abundant life is found in God and his ways, through Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you look at your life and the lives of those around you, can you think of times when sinful behavior seemed to be the most fun, but actually led to pain and heartache? If, indeed, sin is sometimes the most pleasurable option, how can we avoid sin in order to experience the best life God has for us?
PRAYER: Gracious God, I will admit it. Sometimes sin does seem like the most fun. Sometimes it does offer momentary pleasures. Sometimes it feels good to indulge in fleshly pleasures or to gossip or to hate, or ...
Yet, Lord, I know where sin leads. I know from Scripture as well as from experience that sin leads to sorrow and ultimately to death. So I ask you to help me. When I am tempted to sin, give me eyes to see what is really true. Help me to penetrate the illusion of sin's sweetness. Help me to desire you and your righteousness above all else. Amen.