Sin, Obedience, and Chick-Fil-A.
Good reasons will always present themselves when you don’t want to obey God’s commands. From neglecting relationships within the church to viewing entertainment with sexual overtones to slander and gossip, the boundaries of righteousness are often crossed with little concern. (Hebrews 10:25, 2 Timothy 2:22, James 5:9)
Today, sins are applauded as identity trophies or personality preferences rather than direct defiance of God’s commands. Some say, “well, that’s just who I am,” as if being characteristically disobedient is excusable.
When sin, whether great or small, is a part of your identity, this is the terminal stage of deception. From uncontrolled anger, lust, and gluttony to pride, greed, and perversion, no behavior is “ok” because it is a personal preference or trait. Every sin has with it a consequence of judgment. Judgment isn’t the result of God running a moral police state. No, it is the inevitable result of sin. Yet God, with great compassion, daily beckons us to depart from our wicked desires and follow His prescribed pathway of life.
Too often, God receives the blame for illnesses, catastrophes, or calamities that result from a world broken by sin. When we open the floodgates of sin with our selfish choices, God pleads with us to leave our self-worshipping lifestyle and obey Him. What else can God do if we despise His correction and choose sinful behaviors?
Jesus waits with compassion and mercy for the wayward to turn from sin’s destruction. There is only one way by which one can find fulfillment, belonging, and joy in life. It is in loving and obeying Jesus. The beauty of God’s grace is that He forgives all our iniquities and then will extend us His grace to manage the messes we’ve made. With a bit of humor, let me give this example.
Let’s say I start a habit of excessively visiting my local Chick-Fil-A. “A chicken sandwich and large fries” becomes my go-to order. I daily eat from their menu for lunch meetings, after-church hangouts, and even breakfast munchies. Slowly the pounds will start increasing, and my health will start declining. “It’s a Christian restaurant,” I protest to concerned friends and family as they share their caution for my health. Then after discarding their concerns, I ignore the gentle warning of the Holy Spirit to take care of my body. A few years pass, and I find myself at a doctor’s office with the expected outcome of hypertension, high cholesterol, and related matters. I respond to the bad diagnosis with a, “well, I believe God will heal me!” I continue in my unhealthy eating pattern and a few years later find myself in the dire medical condition of heart failure. “Where is God in all this,” I begin to ask. He was there all along, asking me to obey His counsel. Though this is a silly example, it’s not far from reality.
In the end, though I may claim to be following Jesus as a faithful disciple, I am not. My appetite has become the god of my life. The consequence of this idolatry is evident; it will destroy my body. Paul even warned the Philippian church of those who lived for sensuality and gluttony. (Philippians 3:19).
However, let’s say I repent somewhere along the way. This means I change the arguments in my mind that gave me permission to sin. Immediately, God will respond with forgiveness. As I step toward obeying His voice and caring for myself, He will give me the grace to get back into good health. Often, this means a process by which I learn how to bring my body into subjection. (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Stories like these often do not have a happy ending because the consequences of sinful behavior are destructive. Sin demolishes the body, soul, and spirit. Unfounded optimism has crept into our theology and granted laziness and an undisciplined life a place, but this is not a reality in God’s kingdom. We are to be mastered by only one voice in our thoughts, the voice of Jesus. Sin has consequences; the only way to avoid them is to carefully hear and obey God’s voice.
*Note: I love Chick-Fil-A; this is not a post to discount their business.