The Convenience of Sin

by Mark Chatfield
Sentry Magazine, June 2002

I was late for an appointment, driving in an unfamiliar part of North Carolina, and my PT Cruiser was beeping at me because it was low on gas. The exit sign said, "Gas 0.5 miles," but I had already gone more than a mile down the obscure side road and there seemed to be nothing but yellow pines on both sides.

"I better tum around, I must have missed it," I thought.

"Why was this traffic light red? There is no cross traffic.

"I can see all directions for 500 yards, I'll just make a U-tum from this left-hand lane and go back to find that gas station. Oh, no! Where did that cop come from?

"Yes, Officer, I was just in a hurry. I knew the light was red when I entered the intersection."

Have you ever wondered why we sin? I mean, even when I know ahead of time to look out, somehow the sin is right in front of me and before I know it, I succumb to it and I'm hanging my head in both sorrow and disbelief that a split second earlier everything was fine but now I have another regret. Now I have another reason to encumber the grace of Christ.

The reason we sin, I believe, is not because we are inherently evil, and unless we consciously suppress ourselves all the time the sin will just ooze out of our pores. It is not because we really want to sin. The reason we sin, I believe, is because it is so convenient.

What is so convenient? Well, today in the USA almost everything is convenient. Except for those who are smart enough to be without one, our television set brings the lust of the eyes into immediate focus with the flick of the left thumb. Perhaps the punishment of Adoni-bezek (Judges 1:7) would help here, but that aside, have you considered disabling the remote? If we can't tear ourselves away from the television itself, at least (one might think) we could get up out of our potato chips long enough to walk over to the electronic cyclops to change the channel. I know. That's a crazy idea. I won't do it either.

However, it seems to me that much of our problem with sin today in America has to do with the conveniences we take for granted. They seem so good and economical and time-saving. A computer makes writing letters and doing my finances so simple. A faster computer makes the process even simpler. Now I can write to all my friends by just changing the address and a few words here and there so they don't know I was thinking about someone else when I wrote them. It is so easy to deceive. The same Internet system that I can use to do my Bible study, enables the porn industry to gain virtually instant access to anyone with hormones. It is so easy to be tempted.

Let me not take more of your time to provide a discussion of the convenience afforded by stockbrokers and financial planners to slip over the line that distinguishes tax evasion from tax avoidance. I won't elaborate on the ease with which we are drawn into breaking the speed limits because traffic enforcement does not even begin until you are 10 to 15 mph over the legal limit. Let's just say there are many ways we sin just because it is so easy for us to do so.

Now, you might ask, am I just a helpless victim of the inevitable sin that so conveniently presents itself? Am I destined to a life of sin just because the circumstances around me make it almost impossible to avoid breaking the Jaws of God?

Let's let God's word provide some answers. Don't focus on convenience, focus on God:

"And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said unto him, You foolish one, this night is your soul required of you; and the things which you have prepared, whose shall they be? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:19-21).

Ease or convenience itself is not sinful, careless ease of fools is sinful:

"For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of fools shall destroy them" (Proverbs 1:32).

"Rise up, you women that are at ease, and hear my voice; you careless daughters, give ear unto my speech" (Isaiah 32:9).

If it is convenient to sin, it is also convenient to help the poor and the needy:

"Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease were in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy" (Ezekiel 16:49).

Yes, it is convenient to sin. It is also convenient to do good. The next time you prepare a meal for someone who needs it; think how difficult it could have been but how easy it really was. The next time you give somebody a ride to the doctor's office or to church, think about what it might have been like to do that favor 200 years ago and appreciate how convenient it is today. The next time you think, "That's a lot of trouble." Take a moment to understand that there is very little in our society today that has not been made extremely easy. Go ahead. Feel a little guilty. Then, get up off the couch and go help someone who needs encouragement more than you do.

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