Sin has a way of taking over. It does not want to be a powerless prince; it aspires to rule on the throne of your heart like a tyrannical king. It has no desire to be your boss; it wants to be your slavemaster. It wishes to submerge you in its filthy mire, not merely smear a smidgen of it on you. Merely dipping your toes in its enticing waters will not quench its thirst to destroy you; it wants to drown you in a deadly whirlpool of guilt.
The unknown author of the first psalm evidently had a profound grasp on the overtaking nature of sin. He said, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (v. 1). Did you notice sin’s gradual dominance? The first step toward wickedness is stepping on the evil path—walking in the counsel of the wicked. Then, such strolling leads to standing “in the way of sinners” and holding one’s place. Eventually, you reach the seat of iniquity, where you sit for good.
We willfully follow this downhill slope of retrogression every time we sin. This is exemplified by every character in Scripture who suffered a moral fall. Each of them took one small step on the path of sin, and before long, they were firmly planted there. They dilly-dallied near the cliff of iniquity until they fell and eventually hit the ground of disgrace. David committed adultery, theft, and murder because of one lustful glance at Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:1-12:14). Cain killed own brother because of one burning ember of jealousy in his heart (Gen. 4:1-12).
According to pastor and author, R. Kent Hughes, the lethal cycle of sin usually unfolds as follows: “[There is] a progressive desensitization to sin and a consequent inner descent from holiness . . . the pathology of the human factors that lead to a moral fall [are]: desensitization, relaxation, fixation, rationalization, and degeneration.”1
This is true. First, we become numb to sin, treating it as if it were a harmless mosquito bite (cf. Gen. 19:15-16). Second, we become apathetic, lowering our shield and stowing our sword in its sheath (cf. Rev. 3:15-16). Third, the eyes of our idolatrous heart become fixated on the sin for which our flesh hungers—and at this point, we see no use in letting go or looking away (cf. 1 John 2:15-17). Fourth, we justify our sin in every manner possible, and the mind becomes sin’s lawyer, defending it with every conceivable reason and excuse (cf. Gen. 3:12-13). And finally, we reach the point of no return until we hit the ground at the bottom of sin’s slippery slope.
We must heed the Lord’s wise counsel to Cain: “And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7b). Be mindful that sin is out to get you. Do not deviate from the path of righteousness or sit comfortably in sin’s seat. Take the axe of repentance and cut sin off at its root before it grows. Dethrone it from your heart by the grace of Christ.
- Hughes, Kent. Disciplines of a Godly Man (Wheaton: Crossway, 2019), 34, 38.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).
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