The Pleasures of Sin

Holiness is a tricky subject.

Prevailing thought would lead us to believe that holiness is what gives us closeness to God, a relationship with God, or salvation from God. It seems kind of obvious to surmise that right behavior before God wins us favor with God. As humans, we are naturally approval-seeking beings. Who is more likely to receive approval from God, if not the “holy” among us?

The Bible leads us a different direction when it comes to holiness. Scripture doesn’t teach that we are saved by being holy, but that we are saved by God’s grace for holiness. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”[1] God didn’t wait for us to be holy in order to qualify us for his mercy and grace. We’re qualified because God is merciful and gracious, not based on our merit.

But we are saved for holiness. The first chapter of 1 Peter talks about this continually. So how do we live holy?

We have to start by examining the issue of sin.

J.C. Ryle begins his book Holiness:

“He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.”

As we examine sin, we discover that sin is pleasurable. Genesis 3 tells us about the original sin.

Genesis 3:6
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 

The tree that God forbid Adam and Eve to eat from (Genesis 2:16-17) is described in 3 ways:

1) It was good for food
2) It was a delight to the eyes
3) It was desirable because it (seemingly) could lead to wisdom

Sin is pleasurable. Sin brings pleasure. We are beings that desire and delight in pleasure, so the allure of sin entices us.

So why abstain from sin?

Sin also brings death.[2] And though sin is pleasurable, it is ultimately not as pleasurable as holiness. As Christians live in the holiness that God has created us to live in, we are operating in the restored image of God that is ours through Jesus Christ. The pleasure found there is far better than the momentary pleasure of sin.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis The Weight of Glory

[1] Romans 5:8

[2] The rest of Genesis 3, the entire Bible, and human experience bear this out.

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About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
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