Ben Franklin told us, "When in doubt, don't". That isn't all that complex of a formula, is it? We complicate it so much by asking ourselves if the thing we are about to say or do is really all that bad; perhaps it is something God will look the other way on when we do it. The truth is that God doesn't look the other way - ever - so stop trying to talk yourself out of your guilt - just don't do it!
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance. (Proverbs 21:3)
Far more than - this also says it all, doesn't it? What can you justify with your excuses? I have to ask - is it worth 'far more than' God's presence in your life? I can justify a couple fresh baked oatmeal cookies with "I will walk more this week" or "It is just once". Truth be told - I NEVER stop at a couple. That 'taste' lingers and I want one more - and then one more. The couple leads to a handful!
Sin is kind of like that - the taste lingers just long enough to excite our senses a bit. Then the guilt sets in. We prefer the 'tingle' of our senses to the enjoyment of saying or doing something that we justified as 'okay' at the moment, don't we? The sense of guilt produced by the engagement in whatever we should have left alone lingers probably just as much as the 'pleasure' we experienced in the moment of our indiscretion.
Worse than that, we attempt to rectify our wrong living with church activities. We volunteer to watch the kiddos in the nursery - doing 'penance' for our wrong actions. We commit to lead a small group in our home, never really opening up about our struggles, but acting like we have absolutely no issues. What does all this religious activity really do? It masks what is hidden just beneath the surface - a sinful life, miserable, and guilt-ridden.
Clean living and justice - two hallmarks of a believer - but does that mean a believer is free of sin? If you have any knowledge of scripture at all, you will yell a loud "NO" to that one. It means we have an active life with Jesus, learning to listen to his voice more and more each day. We know when to not cross the line, but if we do, we also know where we return to find the forgiveness and restoration we so desperately need.
Does that mean we can sin indiscriminately? Just do wrong and then come back for grace time after time again? No, absolutely not - but grace is unending - it is there when we need it. It never gives us license to just 'do' then 'confess'. It gives us hope that restoration is ours if we 'slip up' on occasion, though. The taste of sin might be intriguing for a while, but if we will learn to listen to Franklin's advice, we might just find the 'taste' of sin is observed less and less in our lives. Just sayin!