Sin… it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I think most of us don’t realize how true this statement really is. Sin is built around a fantasy of fulfillment. It is hollow and never satisfying. It only satisfies to the point of promising more. Any sin when followed to it’s natural conclusion leaves us in a worse condition than when it found us. Just think about it.
- Coveteousness – …is never happy. It starts small urging us to buy more or strive to win more. But then we buy and win only to feed it more. Now we have to keep buying or winning, which is impossible. Ultimately if fed long enough, covetousness leads to debt and poverty.
- Lust – …also never happy. It starts with a casual glance or a sneaky peek. Soon, just looking isn’t enough. When given everything it wants, lust leads to sexual addiction, increasingly perverse desires, disease, unwanted pregnancies, and violence.
- Lying – always starts small. That harmless white lie requires you to skirt the truth over and over until it’s not so harmless anymore. If left to continue, lies lead to broken relationships, lost jobs, and even financial ruin.
Obviously this is just a small sample of how damaging sin can be. Sin is attractive, but ultimately there’s nothing there to really like. It just feeds more longing. Part of the judgment God provides sinners is giving them what they think they want, only this is a curse and not a blessing:
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
(Romans 1:24-25 ESV)
Hell in The Twilight Zone
I was intrigued the other day when watching The Twilight Zone at how clearly this point was being made in an episode entitled, “A Nice Place to Visit.”
I don’t know if I’ve told you, but I’m a huge fan of The Twilight Zone. It never ceases to amaze me how smart those little spooky vignettes were. Rod Serling along with the talents of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, and a few others brought some very deep, smart, and sometimes downright creepy stories to the small screen circa 1960. This episode is one of those stand out episodes. Although it is just a short little parable, it really makes the point of how horrible sin is if it is all we have.
This story by Charles Beaumont follows the death of a jewel thief who is shot fleeing a crime scene. The thief, named Rocky Valentine wakes up in the alley to be greeted by a man in a white suit named Mr. Pip. Mr. Pip tells Rocky he is to be his guide to anything his heart desires. At first, Rocky is skeptical, but after being given a lavish apartment and a nice steak he starts to get into it. Mr. Pip magically gives him everything he wants. Rocky starts spending this afterlife at a Casino where he is popular, attractive to women, and on the winning streak of his life. He takes more than forty grand and three women home with him.
At the end of the night he asks Mr. Pip what he ever did in his life to deserve this kind of afterlife to which Mr. Pip shows him the record of his life. Naturally, nothing good is mentioned. Rocky had lived a horribly sinful life. He shrugs it off, content to be given everything he wants.A few days pass and we see Rocky at the casino again, still winning with women all around him. But something’s changed, he’s not laughing or having a good time anymore. He leaves his winnings at the table and goes home with the girls who keep telling him how great he is. Sick of hearing this, he screams at them and kicks them out. He walks to a pool table and decides to shoot some billiards. But his break sends almost every ball into the pockets. Frustrated he breaks his pool cue and calls for Mr. Pip. He tells Pip how nothing is making him happy anymore. Winning’s not fun when you can’t lose. He thought he’d never get tired of the women (dames), but now he can’t stand them. He states he’d like to rob a bank or something, just to see if he could get caught. He’s informed about a bank across the street he could rob, but he would not get caught. Finally Rocky screams that there must’ve been a mistake. He’s not cut out for heaven and if it’s just the same, he’d like to go to the “other place”. To which Mr. Pip grins and replies, “Well who ever told you you were in heaven Mr. Valentine? This is the other place.” Mr. Pip then maniacally laughs and Rod Serling narrates:
A scared, angry little man who never got a break. Now he has everything he’s ever wanted, and he’s going to have to live with it for eternity, in The Twilight Zone.
There’s an old saying, “be careful what you wish for… you just might get it.” Sin is about desire. It’s about the thrill, but it was never meant to satisfy. How sad it would be if earthly pleasures were all there was. What would you be willing to give for something that can never satisfy you?
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)
The whole world? I guess it’s a nice place to visit. But Jesus provides true rest. The type of rest which cannot ever be obtained through the creation, but only by the Creator. In the story, Rocky talked about how hard his life was and how the only things he ever got were the things he took. He did not realize… rest and peace were always within reach:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)