(Photo: Dan Delzell)
You are out in the middle of the ocean....all alone....in a small boat....and dying of thirst. You know that drinking the saltwater will not solve your problem, but only make it worse. So what do you do? You could get a momentary fix by drinking it, but that will only make your thirst stronger. Or you could resist the urge to drink the saltwater.
This is man's dilemma in the real world. He has a thirst for something refreshing which will satisfy his soul....but he also experiences cravings to quench the thirst of his sinful nature. Should man give into temptation and get a momentary fix, or resist the urge to drink the "saltwater" of sin? It seems that man is in quite a predicament.
The biggest problem with sin is that it violates God's law and His standard for us. But another huge problem is that it never delivers the desired outcome. So sin is really just a big phony....and a fake....a counterfeit. It pretends to have this great solution for your thirst. So you drink....and oops, your thirst just skyrockets. Thanks sin for lying to me about your real effect. And boy did I buy it....hook, line and sinker.
I guess this is what God means in His Word when He tells us, "A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19) Sin is not neutral. It doesn't leave you in the same condition when it is through with you. It moves you into a state where your thirst for more sin only increases. Sin is kind of like that drug dealer on the corner who tries to get people in his neighborhood hooked on cocaine. So he makes it easy for people to get started on it. That is what sin does....as it deals its deadly drug to our soul.
Sin makes us less content with the things of God....and even more compelled to engage in sin again. Hey....if sinning could really quench man's thirst, then sinning would actually be a way to curb the cravings for more sin. How crazy is that? But that is not the way it works. Everything sinful is by definition addictive. By giving into temptation, you are assuring that the temptation will only get greater in that area of your life.
Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34) That pretty much sums it up. That explains why trying to quench our thirst by sinning only increases our thirst for more sin. Why then are we so reluctant to believe the Lord on this one, and on everything else He said about sin and grace? As if the Lord's words are not enough, we also have our own personal experiences. That is something which has taught us firsthand about the addictive nature of sin.
Think about this for a second. If you are not a Christian, when has your sin of unbelief ever done anything but perpetuate more unbelief in your heart. When has it ever helped you to stop rejecting Christ? Precisely. Sin breeds faster than rabbits.
Likewise, if you are a believer....when has your "pet sin" ever stopped growing and growling after you fed it? If you are honest about it, you will admit that pet sins grow into larger animals....with louder growls....and greater appetites. Right? I mean when does it ever play out differently?
So what desires and affections are going to rule your life going forward? Will they be the desires of your sinful nature, or the desires of the Holy Spirit? (see Gal. 5:16-18) You get to choose....everyday....in every situation....and so do I. The bottom line is this....do we love sin more than Christ? No one can serve two masters. So who, or what, is your master?
In other words, who or what is the greatest love in your life? If you are unsure, simply examine which desires and affections you spend the most time trying to satisfy. That examination shows us who, or what, we love the most. It also helps us to understand why sinning never quenches man's thirst.
The psalmist gives us a beautiful description of the person who thirsts for the Lord. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" (Psalm 42:1,2)
When that desire becomes the yearning of our heart, we are getting closer to having the deepest longings of our soul fulfilled. I guess it makes sense that He who created us is the only One who can truly satisfy our thirst. Imagine that.
If it wasn't for His living water (see John 7:37,38), we would really be a mess. As it is, it's messy enough being a sinner saved by grace. Won't heaven be glorious? No sin....no temptation....no unfulfilled longings....ever. Only a full and satisfying quenching of every kind of thirst we will experience there. A person could get used to that sort of existence, although we will never tire of it.
But that's for a later time, when the Lord comes back down here to gather His children for heaven. For now, you are out in a boat....and dying of thirst. If you are a believer....and you are tempted to drink the saltwater....just remember who it is that sits next to you in the boat....and remember the living water which He makes available to you 24/7 to truly quench your thirst.
Let's see....the water out there in the ocean? Or the living water from my eternal Savior and Friend sitting with me here in the boat? Hmm.
When you put it that way, it's hard to see how a person who loves the Lord would ever allow himself to "go for the saltwater." And yet we find that sometimes we still do. Go figure. I guess being a disciple of our Lord really does boil down to a moment by moment lifestyle of Hebrews 12:2. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."