There are plenty of reasons why we should avoid sin like the plague. The primary and foremost reason is to not dishonour, shame and hurt our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That should always be our overriding motivation for living holy, obedient lives, and avoiding sin and disobedience at all times.
But there are I suppose more selfish reasons why we need to guard our lives closely. The Bible warns us repeatedly about how our sins will come back to bite us. What we think we are doing in private will eventually come out in public.
There are consequences to our sins, in other words, and if we persist in known sin, we will all one day face the music – if not in this life, then certainly in the next one. But often there will be this-worldly consequences to our ongoing sin. Consider just a few passages here.
We have of course well known texts such as Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
And Jesus also warned us about this: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. They just pretend to be godly. Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftop” (Matthew 12:1-3).
Then there are Old Testament passages such as Numbers 32:23 which also come to mind here. The KJV puts it this way: “you may be sure that your sin will find you out”. So we have plenty of warnings here. If we think we can sin privately and with impunity, we are only kidding ourselves.
And these biblical truths are far too often verified for us in the headlines of our daily newspapers. Often we will read of someone caught out in a very public and disgraceful fashion. Of course these public sins are almost always preceded by plenty of private sins.
People just do not go out and do flagrant and gross sin unless they have been first toying with the ideas, flirting with the temptations, and dipping their feet into “little” sins beforehand. For example, a man does not usually go out and commit adultery just off the bat. He almost always has been previously sinning in his mind and his fantasy life before the outward act takes place.
So we must all be very careful here. As I say, our primary motivation should be our love and respect for Christ. That should suffice. But if we need further motivation to treat sin harshly, and nip it in the bud, well, risk of public exposure also comes into play here.
Let me offer one rather shocking example of what I am talking about here. While this story has been around for a while now, it should serve as a fitting warning to us all. The news item goes like this: “A man hired a prostitute to come to his hotel room – and answered the door to his own daughter.
“Titus Ncube, a married father-of-three, collapsed to the floor with shock while his daughter, 20, fled the hotel in tears. Mr Ncube, from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, said he was having marital problems and decided to rent a room in a local hotel, followed by a prostitute.
“He said: ‘I am sorry for what I did. I spoke to my wife and daughter. I apologised for my actions as I just wanted my family back. My daughter has stopped doing what she was doing and is going back to school next year. My marital problems are not over, but we have a counsellor who is helping us to get over this most difficult period.’ His wife Rosemary said: ‘If it were not for my children, I could have divorced him a long time ago. But because of the trauma that divorce has on children, I decided to stay’.”
So here we have two clear examples of this for the price of one. Both father and daughter were living a double life. Both were sinning, and seeking to hide their sins from others, or at least from certain parties. Yet both ended up being very publicly and very painfully exposed.
Not only were these two caught out to each other, but the whole world now knows about it. Talk about Numbers 32:23 in action. Talk about biblical realism here. What a tragic tale. But I suspect it is far more common than we realise – albeit not always in such spectacularly glaring and in-your-face fashion.
So the lesson here is quite clear: we need to guard well our inner lives. What we do not carefully deal with will eventually be outed. Better to deal with our inner sins with the Lord now, than to have to display our dirty laundry before the whole world.
So let this be a lesson to us all. God gives us all grace to live a godly life. Sure, that does not mean sinless perfection. We are all still sinners, and we all still blow it. But God has made provision for us to experience real growth in sanctification. We dare not despise that grace and forfeit what God so kindly offers us.