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The Futility of Sin

Why does man sin? To answer this question let us consider the process that leads to sin described in James 1:14-15:

14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

No one wants to die, but sinners don't see the end of this process. Instead, they are blinded by their lusts and the means of satisfying those lusts.  They are overcome by a love of the world that replaces the love of God in their hearts. John warns against this in 1John 2:15-17:

15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

So then, man sins to satisfy his own lusts, but sin is never satisfying. When a man sins, his lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and boastful pride of life do not cease. He may be appeased temporarily, but his lusts will soon return and with even greater strength. The sinner's appetite for sin demands even more sin, and he enters a vicious, self-destructive, spiraling cycle that is increasingly difficult to escape.

In a perverse way, sin is a way that man attempts to become like God. This has been true from the beginning, for the devil in the form of the serpent used this lure to tempt Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Consider Genesis 3:4-5:

4The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Indeed, Adam and Eve did become like God in that they knew good and evil (Gen. 3:22), but their sin separated them from God and deprived them of His wonderful blessings in Eden (Gen. 3:23-24). In trying to become like God, Adam and Eve pushed themselves away from Him.

So it is that whenever man attempts to elevate himself into the place of God and satisfy his own lusts by his own devices that he actually lowers himself into an abyss of corruption and separates himself from God, who is the source of every blessing. Those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things" (Phil. 3:19) can never achieve their goals. To them, the word of God says, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isa. 59:2). A sinner's vain pursuit of glory and pleasure always fails, for "every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (Jas. 1:17). When sinners alienate themselves from God, they lose everything that is good and perfect.

Consider the futility of sin as it pushes the sinner farther from the only possible source of genuine satisfaction. Sinners reject God in pursuit of the wisdom of man, but true wisdom is found only in God (Jas. 3:15-17). Sinners exalt themselves only to be humiliated by God, who is the only one who can truly exalt anyone (Jas. 4:6-7, 10; 1Pet. 5:5-6). Lazy men seek for rest, but the only lasting rest for the soul is found in the Lord (Matt. 11:28-30). Lovers of pleasure seek to indulge their fleshly lusts, but only in the presence of God is the fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11).  Rebellious men seek to be free of God's laws, but true freedom is found only through the truth of God's word (John 8:31-32). Covetous men seek to obtain more and more possessions, but none of their possessions will ever truly belong to them, for all things are owned by God (Ps. 50:10-12).  Envious men seek to excel above their peers, but the name of Jesus excels above all (Phil. 2:9-11). Angry men seek revenge, but vengeance belongs to God (Rom. 12:19). These examples could go on and on, and they demonstrate the utter futility of sin.

Therefore, let us endeavor to put away the futile ways of sin and to pursue the Lord's ways of lasting profit. If we will be patient and faithful now, then God will reward us richly in a little while. Consider 1Peter 1:3-5:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In futility, sinners waste their lives with every sin, but servants of God invest their lives for an eternal reward. What will be the outcome of your life? Futility, or eternal life?

Stacey E. Durham





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