We love destroying ourselves.
There really is nothing quite like it. It is just TV. I know it isn’t real. But without fail, when I watch a character destroy his or her life over a stupid mistake, it affects me for the rest of the day. My wife and I follow a few shows. Recently I remember one about the typical family screw-up who is trying to be more responsible. His name is Crosby. He is finally engaged, and his family is impressed. But Crosby and his fiancé get into a fight and he does something really stupid. He sleeps with another woman. You’ve seen the dramatic and surprising scene a thousand times I’m sure. Hollywood creatively and effectively manipulates your emotions to think, “Don’t be an idiot. You’re going to lose everything.” And finally it happens. He cheats. And you, the viewer, are just as completely aware as he is that while he may be experiencing 30 minutes of pleasure right now, he is going to have the worst day of his life tomorrow morning. As an outsider, I see how much he is going to hate himself tomorrow, I see that he is destroying something beautiful and long lasting for a sorry substitute that will not last for more than the evening.
Five minutes that ruined everything.
We have all done something like this. We are all sinners. This started back with the first two people who ever walked the earth. Genesis 2-3 says that Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. They walked with God “in the cool of the day,” they saw him face to face, they actually found joy in their work rather than difficulty, they were “naked and unashamed,” and they lived in a beautiful garden. In every way, the word Paradise drastically falls short. But something happened. Satan tempted them, and they did the unthinkable. When I read the story, I already know what is going to happen, so it doesn’t often feel very impactful. But be the third person, watching their TV show for a second. They are speaking to Satan, and he is trying to convince them that they will not die like God told them they would, but that God is holding out on them. He is keeping something from them, and in fact, if they eat the fruit, they “will be more like God, knowing good and evil.” Every benefit imaginable is at their disposal, and in a moment of weakness, (or really, stupidity and blindness), they give in. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” They traded paradise for five minutes of curiosity and pleasure. I’m sure the fruit was delicious, and it says that it looked wonderful. But was it worth it? Really? Five minutes of pleasure ruined everything. They destroyed the fellowship they had with God. You may say, “It was just fruit.” It wasn’t just fruit, it was treason; it was rebellion. They believed a treacherous snake over their faithful Father. This is no small thing. This moment shattered the greatest relationship mankind has ever known. Jeremiah 2:11 says, “My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.”
Think about what their curiosity and pleasure seeking cost them. James 1:15 says, “Desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Don’t miss the key words here, “conceived,” “gives birth,” “full grown.” This isn’t just a Bible verse about sin, this is the language of pregnancy. It is the language of miscarriage. “When desire has conceived…” This is that moment in the garden with the snake, when Adam and Eve start to think, “Well it does look delicious. What if God is hiding something from us?” This is the moment where Crosby thinks, “But she’s so beautiful, and my fiancé is acting crazy. I deserve a night of freedom.” ‘Conception’ is the moment when you deceive yourself to think it is going to end well; consequence free, no one will ever know. It is the excitement and anticipation about what is to come, like a couple that gets a positive test result for pregnancy. The baby begins to grow, you first feel something swimming around inside of you. Then you eventually feel a kick. You pick out a name, you have a shower, you prepare a nursery. Morning sickness becomes back aches, back aches become early labor pains, early labor pains become active labor pains (or an epidural), and before you know it you hear the doctor say, “Push.” So much pain. So much joy. You can’t wait to meet this little person. But then there is a panic. The doctor says, “The heart rate is dropping.” And the baby dies. It is devastating. You realize that the excitement did not deliver what it promised. This baby you have been anticipating for the past nine months is gone, and all of the excitement, all of the pain, is all lost and replaced with sorrow and disappointment. That is what sin is like. And we have all experienced this. Something wonderful is on the line, and we sacrifice true lasting joy on the altar of momentary satisfaction.