This weekend while doing yard work I loaded several episodes of Ask Pastor John. One episode, Pornography and Resisting the Power of Temptation, is worth your time. It is a parable about knowing the power of sin.
The issue he’s addressing is whether or not we need to experience a sin to know its power. His illustration shows that it is not those who give in who understand what sin can do, but those who resist.
It’s an excerpt from a sermon, The Importance of Knowing Our Sin. It is worth your time. At the very least I suggest you listen to the podcast. I’ve included the text of the parable below.
No, you don’t need to experiment with particular sins in order to know the power of sin in your life. Think of it this way. Someone says: How can you really know the power of the temptation to lust – say to look at Internet nudity – if you’ve never given in and experienced it? Let me give an answer in a parable. There are three men – women, you supply the necessary changes to make the parable fit your situation – and each of the three stands beside a pit of lewdness and sin. Three ropes extend out of the pit, one bound around each man’s waist. The strength of this narrow cord is one-hundred-pound test.
The first man begins to be pulled into the pit that looks exciting, but that he knows is deadly. Five pounds of pressure, ten pounds, fifteen pounds. He resists and fights back. Twenty pounds, twenty-five. He digs in his heels with all his might. Thirty pounds, thirty-five pounds, and the rope starts to squeeze and he stops resisting and jumps in. Click goes the mouse button.
The second man begins to be pulled into the pit. Five pounds of pressure, ten pounds, fifteen pounds. He resists and fights back. Twenty pounds, twenty-five pounds. He digs in his heels. Thirty pounds, thirty-five pounds, and the rope starts to squeeze. He says, No! and fights back. Forty pounds, forty-five pounds, fifty pounds, fifty-five pounds. It’s harder to breathe as the rope tightens around his stomach and it begins to hurt. Sixty pounds, and he stops resisting and jumps into the pit. Click.
The third man begins to be pulled into the pit. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five pounds of pressure. He resists and fights back. Thirty, thirty-five, forty, and the rope starts to squeeze. He says, No! and fights back. Fifty pounds, sixty. It’s harder to breathe as the rope tightens around his stomach and begins to hurt. Seventy pounds and his feet start to slip toward the pit. He cries out for help, and reaches out to grab a branch – shaped like a cross. In the distance he sees his wife going about her business, trusting him; he sees his children playing, and in their hearts admiring him. And beyond them all, he sees Jesus Christ with a gash in his side standing, with both hands lifted and fists clenched and smiling. And filled with passion, the third man holds fast. Seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five pounds, and the rope cuts into his sides and the pain stabs. Ninety, ninety-five and the tears flow unbidden down his cheeks. One hundred and the rope snaps. No click.
Question: which of these men knows the full power of temptation?
If this were a message on lust I would look around this room and say, “Are there any soldiers here? Does anyone in this room have blood on his shirt and scars on his side? Do you know the power of temptation? Or do you just jump in before its power is spent?”
But this is not a message on lust. And all I am doing right now is answering the objection that the only or the best way to know your sin is to give into temptation and experiment with sin and taste the pit. Not true.