A few years ago, after moving to a new apartment, my family decided to purchase a new TV. Although I would usually keep the box the TV came in for some possible future use, I decided to throw it out due to the lack of space.
As I was waiting for the elevator to throw out the box in the basement, one of my neighbors, who was around the age of 8, appeared around the corner. He looked at the box I was holding and stood in awe in the presence of my box. In excitement, he asked me if the TV was mine, to which I responded that this was only the box and that there was nothing inside. Yet, even though he knew that there was nothing in the box, he desired the box. He desired it because he knew what it offered: life with a big TV.
The Lie of Sin
In many ways, the TV box is a picture of sin in our lives. We look at sin, and we desire it because of what it potentially offers us: happiness and satisfaction. We sin because we believe that sin will hold true to its offers and bring us what it promises. With the TV box, my neighbor saw the potential life with a bigger TV, which to him equaled more happiness and satisfaction.
This is why sin is so attractive. What sin offers us is love, acceptance, joy, and satisfaction. It promises to give us what we so desire and long for in our hearts.
Sin, however, is a lie and just like the TV box, there is nothing inside. Its promises are empty, and all it provides are temporary gratifications. It is attractive on the outside but when we look in, we find that all it is full of are lies.
However, the lie goes deeper than just unkept promises.
Not only does sin not provide what it promised, but it also brings death (Romans 6:23) and leads us further away from God for it is something that God hates (Psalm 5:4).
Sin promises life but in reality brings death. This is the lie of sin.
The Devastating Exchange
Although we may know that sin is wrong, the truth is that we fall into the lie of sin. We start to believe the promises of sin and begin to actively participate in it.
Paul addressed a very similar problem in Romans 1. He talks of people who, although they knew of God, did not honor him or give thanks to him. They then, in what they believed to be wisdom, exchanged the glory of God for images resembling man and animals (Romans 1:23). These people started to believe that these images would bring them joy and satisfaction.
In the same way, we exchange the glory of God for the sins of our lives. We believe that relationships, money, sex, our careers, and other things will bring us joy and satisfaction. We take inherently good things and not only place them above God but make them our God.
This is the devastating exchange. We give up God and instead settle for images that are far less glorious. As C.S Lewis said in “Weight of Glory“, “ We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
In all this, God knows that nothing could satisfy the souls of his creation other than himself. In knowing this, God gives people over to the very sinful desires of their hearts to show them that only he can satisfy (Romans 1:24). He wants his creation to see that they must go to him to be satisfied. He wants more for us than to participate in this devastating exchange where we give up God for sin.
The Truth of God
In Romans 1, Paul says that people exchanged the truth about God for a lie. The lie of sin was that it did not provide all that it promised and in face of this lie, we exchanged the glory of God for this very sin.
What we need to help us not fall into the lie of sin is to see the truth of God. Here are 3 truths that we must hold onto:
1. God is the most glorious
There is nothing in this world that is as glorious as God is. He is so glorious that even the heavens declare his glory and the skies proclaim his handiwork (Psalm 19:1-2). Not only do the heavens declare his glory, but all things are from him, through him, and to him (Romans 11:36). He is the King of glory and we can never truly fathom the depth and breadth of his glory. (Psalm 24:10)
It is then by seeing and knowing that God is the most glorious that we stop chasing lesser things. In order to see through the lie of sin, we must know that whatever sin may give will always fall short of the glory of God. Even if sin kept its promises, it would be providing a shell of true glory.
2. Only God can satisfy
It is because our souls long to be satisfied that our default tendency is to do what we can to fill it. However, the truth is that nothing in this world can satisfy besides God. Many times throughout Scripture, its writers declare that God satisfied the longings of their soul (Psalm 107:9) and that he fills us with joy and eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). Furthermore, Jesus himself says that you must drink from the water that he gives in order to never be thirsty again (John 4:14). What this shows is that everything other than God will continue to leave us thirsty and empty.
The more we come to understand that only God will satisfy, the less we will look to other things to satisfy us. By understanding this, we come to see more clearly that sin can only provide temporary satisfaction. Thus, we fight sin with that truth that only God can truly satisfy.
3. God deserves all the glory
In knowing that God is the most glorious and that only he alone can satisfy, our response to these truths must be worship. We must know that it is because of these two truths that God deserves all the glory. So in our pursuit of fighting sin and finding satisfaction in Christ, we must give all the glory to God who deserves all our adoration and praise (Revelation 4:11).
As we hold onto these truths, may we continue to fight sin and run to our God who provides eternal satisfaction.