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A Wonderful Drug

by Tim O'Hearn

Adrenaline is a wonderful drug. Naturally occurring, it can allow an arthritic, fifty-something, old man to play a game of softball as if he were years younger. Once on the field, the aches and pains disappear and I can play catcher without feeling it in my knees and heels. Of course, as soon as the game is over, sometimes before I can even get from the field to the car, I am again feeling the pain. In fact, it is often worse, because I have just worked my body in ways it is not accustomed to being abused.

Adrenaline is like sin. Sin has a way of masking the pain and consequences. It comes in fancy dress, but underneath is an unwashed body covered with running sores. Sin masks the pain that will result, but it often returns once the sin is completed.

Jesus talks about the consequences of riches, particularly those obtained through questionable means, as being deceitful. “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Matt 13:22) When working to become rich, rather than working to make a living, one often sees the money, and ignores what it takes to get it. Sometimes the person who desires riches pays for them in terms of broken families, destroyed relationships, bitterness, and hatred. Well is it said, “Be careful whom you step on on your way up, because you are likely to meet them on your way back down.”

Paul said it is not just riches that are so deceitful. It is anything that consumes a person so fully that they forget self-control and God-control.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:22-24)

Anything we lust after will deceive us. The deception may be, in part, that such things do not satisfy. It may be, in part, that such things do not last. It may be, in part, that we frequently come to hate the object of our lusts. Those are parts of the deceitfulness of lust, but the real problem is that it blinds us to “righteousness and true holiness.” God is who satisfies. Following God is the ultimate cure for emptiness. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man.” (Eccl 12:13)

The ultimate evil of sin is that it masks the pain of separation from God. We can be separated from the promised land, just as Israel was not allowed into the promised rest. The writer of Hebrews says that God has promised us a rest. But sin can keep us from it. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13) Sin makes us think we are resting, when we are really only tiring ourselves out. Like the adrenaline, it masks the signs of injury. Our spiritual muscles are hardened by sin, but it deceives us into thinking we can move as well as we did at one time.

The problem with an adrenaline rush is that it does not last. It disappears and the pains return. In the same way, sin plays to our short-term vision. The problem is that in doing so it blinds us to the long view. Moses rejected the adrenaline of sin because he could see the long view.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (Heb 11:24-26)

While riding a bicycle, I have gotten so tired that I would not look up beyond what was immediately in front of my tires. This short view is dangerous, because there is no time to react when a parked car suddenly appears in front of me. Looking up is the solution to sin. Look up to the long view, the heavenward view, and do not be deceived.