Scripture Reading: Romans 6:6-23
Just about everybody loves blackberries! Blackberries are juicy and very pleasant to the taste. They are great in pies, cobbler, as toppings, as jam, and right off the vine! Yet I have learned that there are some places that are just not so convenient to have blackberry vines growing. Several years ago at another church we were making improvements to our church’s landscaping and we needed to get rid of the unsightly blackberry vines. Long vines were all around us seeming to want to choke and entrap us. Along with the vines were sharp thorns that scratched and tore us. Now if the vines had no berries but only thorns that caused us pain, I don't think people would joyfully climb through them. Most animals don't get ensnared in an empty evil looking trap with nothing enticing them. There is usually some form of bait set in the trap to be attractive to it's desired victim.
This past summer my family went blackberry picking. The blackberries tasted so delicious. However the delight of picking blackberries diminished as we got pricked by the thorns and our children tripped into the vines getting tangled with the thorns, to then get stung by yellow jackets!
We don't typically sin because we see the pain and destruction that it is going to cause. You don't see liquor companies advertising the devastation their drink provokes. They don't show TV ads of the significantly increased health risks of alcohol consumption, or of marriages that were ruined, the sexual immorality that often follows when in a drunken state, that alcohol related vehicle crashes is the number one killer of teenagers, domestic abuse, depression, etc. They promote their beverage enticingly; they show celebrities and sport figures drinking, attractive men, sexualized women, partying and having fun. It may be fun momentarily, but the fact is drinking alcohol doesn't make you famous, attractive, or better at sports. There is something attractive that entices us to sin, and yes it is usually pleasurable but only for a season.
Often we try to trim or cutback on our sin to a “moderation” that we think we can handle, only to have it flourish abundantly in it’s dominion over us. We’ll gain a fire and zeal for the Lord, but only when the wind blows our way. We’ll draw nigh unto the Sun of righteousness, but we soon slip back into darkness when offenses come. The Holy Spirit will fill our life with joy, howbeit when we get self centered we choose to follow the lusts of our flesh. The only sure way to get rid of the blackberry bushes was to dig out the roots. The only way we’ll conquer sin in our life is if we’ll go beyond the surface and dig out the root of our sin crucifying the old man in us. We must amputate our sin, not just trim it down a little. Resist the temptation of sin when it comes your way, and when possible avoid the very presence of temptation (Proverbs 4:14-15). We can only have this victory over sin with a Spirit-filled life through the power of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we won't be perfect until we are with Christ, we don't need to live in defeat as if sin has dominion over us.
Enjoy God's gift of blackberries while carefully trying to avoid the thorns (thorns actually even came as a result of the curse because of sin - Genesis 3:17-19), but don't even play with sin no matter how enticing and pleasing it seems. It always leads to destruction, misery, and ultimately death.
James 1:12–16 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.