Once more social media is filled with the news of Christian Grey. I watch with interest as Christian women plan evenings out that revolve around the new movie. They joke about how eager their husbands will be have them home afterward–their sexual passions stirred by an actor who isn’t their husband, portraying a twisted, cruel character who isn’t their husband. And, I suppose the prevailing attitude is that men don’t care by what means their wives get in the mood for sex, so long as they get in the mood.
But, if this is how we think of our husbands, we’re wrong. Men do care if their wives are ogling other men, even if those men are actors who live a thousand miles away in a different world. Even if lusting after a man you aren’t married to is generally considered harmless these days.
The harmless sins are the most dangerous of them all.
They are the ones we explain away with a little shrug, a wave of the hand, a joke. They are the ones we justify over and over again. They are the ones that are so easy to fall into. And, they are ones that are killing us.
But, I’m not just picking on 50 Shades of Grey. Temptation to sin is everywhere, and one thing that makes sin so appealing–one thing that convinces us that it is irresistible–is that we honestly consider most of it to be no big deal. Pornography, gossip, jealousy, hatred, dishonoring our parents, lust. All of these can seem utterly harmless to us when we are in the thick of temptation. We tell ourselves that it won’t hurt anyone, but we are wrong about that, too. Sin always hurts. We hurt ourselves and we hurt other people and we grieve God. No sin is harmless. There is always harm done. Always.
But, we aren’t left with no hope of conquering temptation, no matter how fiercely it tries to drag us into the pit. There is always a moment before sin in which we choose. That moment is where the battle for purity and holiness is won or lost, many times a day, every single day. Left to our own willpower, we would choose sin more often than not. But, if we know Christ, then we have been emboldened and empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist temptation in all its forms. If we think through all of the choices that we make in a day, we will get a fairly clear picture of what kind of faith life we’re leading. How often do we give into temptation with little or no fight? How often do we forge ahead with our sin, barely pausing to acknowledge that a real choice is being made?
Just a few days ago I started to write Chad a private message about an old acquaintance of ours. I was set to describe all of the ways that this person was annoying me on Facebook. The message was completely devoid of any kind of grace or kindness, and looked nothing at all like Jesus. Just before I made the conscious decision to hit send, the Holy Spirit miraculously opened my eyes to the fact that I had accidentally written this message to the person I was talking about. I quickly deleted the whole thing and walked away from my computer, knowing that I had just been given a precious gift of mercy that I didn’t deserve. I was horrified at the thought of this person reading what I had written. Yet, I was perfectly fine with God seeing it and with my husband seeing it, even though I knew it would likely hurt my husband spiritually and grieve my God.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my wicked heart more clearly than in that moment.
We all make choices every day. Are we giving into temptation, or are we fighting, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live a life that pleases God? Because, even though I was humiliated at the thought of this old friend of mine reading what I wrote about her, how can I forget that one day everything I’ve done will be made known? How can I ever feel proud of my goodness when I know how often that I very clearly choose to turn from God’s way and dive right into sin?
I’m so grateful that we have a God who can sympathize. We have a Savior who knows what temptation is like, even though He always made the right choice. His blood was spilled for our harmless sins. But, no big deal, right?