When does a sin begin? And at what point should you act to fix a sin you have done? The answer is that sin must be stopped regardless of how longstanding it is or how complicated it has become, yet these issues are best caught at the beginning.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
James tells us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15) Sin begins as a desire. The desire itself is not necessarily sinful, but when we act wrongly to acquire what we desire, we have sinned. So when is the best time to catch sin and stop it?
The best time to catch sin is BEFORE WE DO IT. The reason for this is because that is when it is easiest—all we have to do is realize what’s going on and not do it. Imagine, for example, marriage to a person who rejects Christ. Because 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” we know such a marriage is contrary to God’s will for His people. Common sense should tell us that it is highly unlikely our witness will cause this person to accept Christ before we become inextricably attached. So while movies always show dramatic last minute abandonments at the altar, it is far less difficult and painful—for ourselves and others—to deduce that such a situation has no good resolution and simply determine that no matter how wonderful he or she is, you will not date someone who is not Christ’s.
The same is true of any sinful behavior. Actions have consequences and things snowball. And while this doesn’t mean you can’t necessarily right a wrong you’ve already done or let go on for a while, it does mean it will be much more complicated–so convoluted, perhaps, that you might be tempted to simply talk yourself out of even trying to get out from under it. So how should we avoid getting ourselves into difficult situations caused by sin in the first place?
The way to avoid getting trapped by a sinful behavior is by LIVING VERY CAREFULLY. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15) We should do our best to know right from wrong by studying God’s Word regularly, and be very intentional in our behavior because many truly miserable sins have seemingly unprodigious beginnings. Yet even though the first steps into the sin might seem like “no big deal,” as James tells us, “…sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” But what if you’ve already messed up—what if you have already done something wrong?
The way to fix a wrong is to ADMIT IT TO GOD, STOP IT, and do your best to MAKE IT RIGHT. Some situations clearly are more “fixable” than others. Divorcing your spouse will not undo a wrong marriage, an illegitimate child cannot be put back in the womb, and no amount of repentance will bring a person back to life. There are some behaviors whose consequences you simply have to live with.
Yet some things can be made right, at least to a degree. Dishonesty can be admitted and corrected, sinful sexual behavior can be stopped, and relationships can be mended. God tells us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Because we are of the Light, we are to walk in the light!
Help us to always walk in the light, because we are of You and You are the Light! Amen.