What Poison Oak Taught Me About Sin

ivyYou might consider me less holy after this statement, but I can’t help it.

I hate poison oak or any of those other similar poison plants.

Not really sure if I am supposed to say that about God’s creation, but that’s what I am feeling right now because of the constant itch I feel on my arms. And because of the fact that I can just look at the plant end up bumps all over. (I might be exaggerating a little)

I wonder if this is what God was really trying to warn Adam about after he sinned in the Garden?

God to Adam:

Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you…”

My guess is God said this while trying to give Adam subtle hints or maybe even directly pointing at these little green demons.

Of sin and poison oak

As much as I hate poison oak, God spoke to me during one of moments of weakness.

My arms was itching and I really wanted to scratch it. But as I thought about it, I also remembered that if I scratch it there is a consequence that is possibly worse that the itch – A prolonged and multiplied amount of itchy bumps.

Yes, scratching might bring an immediate sense of relief, but there is more to it than that.

I knew that scratching my arms would feel good while at the same time bursting the little bumps and contaminating more of my skin. So immediate gratification would actually mean greater pain later on.

Now and later

You see sin is like a constant itch that wants to be scratched.

It begs you and gives you a promise of relief.

Yes, it can hold up to its promise for a short period of time but eventually its vicious claws come out.

The immediate gratification of sin will feel good in the moment but it will always come back to bite you.

  • Over indulging on the food might feel and taste good now, but it will come back to bite on the scale or at the doctor.
  • Maxing out that credit card might excite you right now and make you feel good with all the new smell, but it will come back to bite you when large interest rate and hard to make payments.
  • Having sex outside of marriage might give you a sense of ecstasy right now. But it will come back to bite when you get pregnant, get an STD, get heart-broken, lose respect for yourself, or what might be more subtle, lose respect for other human beings and start treating them as object for you self gratification.
  • Sharing the newest bit of gossip might make you feel important of give you a sense of acceptance, but it will come back to bite when it’s you they’re talking about or when the person being talked about comes to to settle accounts.

False sense of satisfaction

Just like with the poison oak there is a false sense of satisfaction that feels so real that you forget about what you deep down know is the right thing to do.

To often you don’t realize what you’ve done until it’s to late.

When you burst that bump it’s to late. And when you give into sin it’s to late.

Yes, God forgives. But there will always be consequences.

Choose difficult now

Do the hard work now so that you can enjoy the benefits of it later.

  • Set limits.
  • Reduce exposure.
  • Say no.
  • Lose those friends.
  • Cut those credit cards.
  • Don’t go to buffets.
  • Hang out in public only.
  • Change your number.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts. (for those suffering with poison oak)
  • Fill your mind with good images, music, conversations, words and thoughts.

Doing the hard work now will pay off big time later.

Don’t scratch the itch so it doesn’t spread. Spray brush killer. Wear appropriate clothes when working in high grass or brush areas. These things pay off big when I choose to do them. But even still sometimes I don’t.

Do the hard work of saying no to immediate gratification. Put up safe guards in those areas you know you are weak. Make pre-decisions as to what you will do when tempted.

Apply the Gospel

Just like we have medicine for this external poison we have the power of the Holy Spirit to apply when we are dealing with sin.

God said He would not be tempted more than we could handle

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

God through Jesus has given you the power to overcome sin. As a Christian you are no longer bound by it’s power.

If I have the medicine but never apply it, it doesn’t do me any good.

In the same way, you have the power of the Holy Spirit. Choose to live in that power and choose the way out that God has made for you.

Soul Check:

Are you more prone to choose instant gratification?

Do you consistently ask God to search your heart for un-confessed sin?

Is it easier to give in to sin then to seek God for deliverance from sin?

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