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  • Tom Strode

Sinful choices and collateral damage


A Christian may ponder the cost to himself of choosing sin and foolishly decide it's worth the price. But how often does a Christian ponder the cost to others of choosing sin? How often does a Christian consider the collateral damage from his proud, rebellious, self-serving decision to sin?

The ones who become collateral damage may be a spouse, children, friends and even an entire church.

When the subject of King David's sin is raised, our minds likely go immediately to his use of Bathsheba to satisfy his selfish desires and his murderous disposal of her husband, Uriah. Certainly, there was collateral damage from those sinful choices. But David's decision to sin later in life resulted in far more collateral damage among God's people. As described in II Samuel 24, he decided to number the people. Joab, Israel's military commander, urged the king not to take a census, but David would not listen. The result of his sin against God? The deaths of 70,000 Israelites.

When professing Christians decide premeditatively after lengthy consideration to sin against a holy God and to reject the warnings of Scripture and those who love them, they often have already formulated rationales for why they would be justified in taking such action. You may have heard many such justifications. Here are some, each followed by what I believe to be a biblically based response that I would hope a person who hears it would heed:

"I deserve to be happy."

Actually, the only thing you -- and I -- deserve is eternal condemnation. Anything short of that is God's lavish mercy. If you don't receive what you deserve, it will be purely because of the free grace of God.

"I have to live out my truth."

Actually, if your truth doesn't match God's truth, then it's an untruth.

"I have to be authentic, because this is just who I am."

Actually, if you have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, it is not just who you are. You are deceiving yourself.

"My family and my church will be okay."

Actually, they might be okay ultimately, but it will be in spite of your sin, not because of it. It is only because God's grace to the downtrodden is so abundant that anyone devastated by your sin will be okay.

"God will forgive me."

Actually, you are presuming upon God and His grace. Even God the Son did not do that. He warned against such presumption when He rejected one of Satan's temptations by saying, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matthew 4:7). And if you don't want to obey God now, what assurance do you have you will want to repent and seek forgiveness some day in the future?

Oh, may God grant us grace to obey Him, reject the Tempter's snare, flee fleshly desires, trust Jesus and think of others before ourselves that they might not become collateral damage.

-- Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

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