20 Sep 2012

The Author

I am author of the book, "Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World" from Civitas Press. I also contributed an essay to “The Practice of Love: Real Stories of Living Into the Kingdom of God,” under my pseudonym Arthur Dimmesdale. By trade, I am a certified athletic trainer.

I am keenly interested in the theme of redemption and seeing it play out in the Christian community. I'm also intrigued how tragedy affects Christians and how we view it in relationship with the cross. My theology is somewhere between Asahel Nettleton and Bruce Ware.

I'm originally from Arkansas but currently reside in Western Kentucky. I am a husband to my beautiful wife Allison, and a father to three.

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The Taste of Sin
runningstand

Today I found myself listening to one of my old favorite U2 songs tonight, “Running to Stand Still” from the Joshua Tree Album. Here it is if you’ve never had the great pleasure of listening to it:

Literally, it is a song written about the heroin problem that plagued Dublin in the ’80s. You can read all about the imagery within the song at the song’s Wikipedia page. It is considered by many to be one of the most complete U2 songs ever written.

One of the things I like about U2 songs is something I heard someone close to the band say once. Or maybe it was Bono: “Really, you can make our songs about anything you want.” Fans will agree with that as many people find many of their albums becoming a soundtrack for their own life, just when they needed it.

In that particular song, there are a couple of statements that intrigue me, especially after my own fall from the pastorate due to adultery. And I really think it’s applicable to anyone who has sinned against God or struggled with addiction, argued with God, or simply just not felt good enough for God because of their sin.

Sin has a double edged slice to it. For those who love God, we know it is wrong. When we sin, we know it puts us in a bad relationship with him. When we commit those “small sins,” you know, driving too fast, calling the guy in the car next to us an “idiot” when he cuts us off, cheating on a test; it doesn’t bother us so much. But when we really sin, we are overwhelmed with guilt.

The other edge to sin is how appealing it can be. Especially the big ones. Just go back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The fruit on the tree was appealing to them. Knowing they could be like God was appealing to them. It sounded delicious to them.

Frankly, when I got to the point in my life where I first considered adultery, it sounded very appealing. I wanted the woman I was with. She was the answer to my prayers and everything I needed. There are other sins like that. What if you need money badly? Let’s say you work somewhere that you can access it easily and no one will miss small amounts? It’s desirable. It’s delicious to you to think about taking it. What about the abuse of power? You can get your way over other people with manipulation or being a jerk. Using that power is appealing. Tasty.

There’s a line in the song where the heroin addict is feeling something that U2 wrote about:

“Sweet the sin, but bitter the taste in my mouth.”

There’s the rub for the Christian. None of us just wake up one day and say, “Hey! I’m going to commit adultery/embezzle/be power hungry!” No, it breeds in us. It becomes delicious to us over time. And we finally decide to sin and consume that sin that we think will be so tasty to us.

But when we eat it, at first, it might be delicious. But then, for those who know God, we realize the bitterness. There are consequences for all of our actions.

We might be in a place where we think, “I have to commit this sin. Life has left me no choice. My marriage is a joke,” or “I’m broke.” There’s another line in the song that is dealing with something else but is applicable: “I see seven towers, but I only see one way out.”

When we begin focusing on a sin, we think the only way out is to keep pursuing that sin. But if we know Christ, we know that’s not the case. With the redemption of Christ, there’s always a way out. If we are surrounded by a community filled with the love of Christ, we are even more assured that rescue is at hand.

But all too often, we will choose to pursue that sin. The sin that looks so delicious, yet when we bite into it, will only deliver bitterness.

That’s where you may be today. On the path screaming straight toward a sin. Turn from it while you can. Know there are people who are willing to care for you and love you. Look past the deceivingly beautiful veneer of the sin on the outside and see the bitterness that dwells within. Don’t be afraid to pray to God to deliver you and to put you in the path of people who can help.

7 Comments
7 Comments
  1. Great post, Ray!

  2. My “taste of sin” was purposally seasoned. I did not have an excuse why I harmed, or even robbed, another: i had concrete reasons. Adrenaline is the taste of sin for me.

    My experience is that labeling anything as sin is a pathetic expediency. Why so few Christians become as Christ is the direct result of this moralistic purge. Morality has next to nothing to do with being a Christian.

  3. Jerry
    Can you clarify? I am not sure I follow your thinking.
    Ray
    The bitterness of the fruit is the shame it creates…which keeps us in the cycle of trying to make ourselves feel better, which leads us back to sin again…and around we go.

    • Roy, you’re right. It’s a vicious cycle. Sin is a pleasurable experience. Once we are involved we are moved further and further away from our Creator.

      Jerry, I too would like further clarification. I’m a little confused.

  4. “Screaming towards sin”?

    I’m stuck in it. It is my CONDITION, and I cannot break free of my own accord. Indeed, I don’t want to break free from it.

    The reason that we don’t stop sinning is simple, and shocking…we don’t want to!

    But our Lord knows this about us., Look at St. Paul. Read Romans 7. But the Lord used him mightily as He will use us when we proclaim His gospel for the ungodly…those who are bound in their sin.

    Thanks.

    • Steve,
      You’re right. We do not want to. But thanks be to God that He has given us His Spirit to wage war against sin. Will we still fall? Yes. But we know that Chriat was tempted in every way that we are. It is not an impossible battle.

      Sin is so desirable. God tells us, “don’t do this.” What is our natural reaction? To do it. It’s like telling our kids, “Don’t stay out too late. Don’t go see that rated R movie.” So what is their natural reaction? To go and do it. That is why we are to cultivate the fruit of the spirit. Easy? Nope. But is it what God wants for us to be for our best and His best? Yeah. Tough.

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