Sin’s Power Over Us: Rewards and Punishments

Sin’s Power Is Strong Against Us

A little boy is tempted. There within reach is a delicious treat. But he’s not supposed to eat it. The urge is strong. Then he does what everyone does. He looks around to see if anyone is watching. He’s calculating whether he will be caught. Ah, but he’s already caught! Not by Mom but by sin’s power lurking within.

we feel sin's power all the time

We’ve all done it. We still do it! We’re in a hurry. The sign says “No right turn on red.” We look. No one’s around. We turn right on red. We’re at our desk. The inbox is full, there’s much to do. The thought of doing some personal shopping online on company time crosses our mind. We look around and see everyone’s busy. Perhaps they’re shopping, too. We give in to the urge.

Every day we experience sin’s power as either rewards or punishment. It’s a universal experience. The Bible describes this well when talking about Moses.

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26

The Rewards And Punishment Of Sin’s Power

Make no mistake, sin offers real pleasure as a reward. I’ve had addicts tell me there is no greater pleasure in life than that first high from crack cocaine. But then it’s gone. It’s fleeting. That’s the way sin works. Your anger rises and you scream at someone. It feels great! For a moment. Another time you’re depressed and as you wallow in it you have an urge to feed it. You want the pleasure your particular painkiller gives, alcohol, drugs, sex, junk food. It kills the pain. For a moment. Then there’s more pain, a different kind. Guilt and shame.

Sin’s power also includes the threat of punishment. Moses rejected the pleasures of sin in Pharaoh’s palace that were equal to any in the world. By doing that he was punished. Berated as a religious nut. Jesus said that punishment would include being persecuted, reviled and falsely accused Matthew 5:10-12.

In order to overcome sin’s power we first have to recognize it. It’s like the power of a mighty river flowing against us. Yet for every impulse that seeks to push us to conform to its wishes we have a choice. We can give in. That’s the easy thing to do but it leads to acts of sin and death. Or we can do like Moses did. We can refuse and choose.

This is the essence of the battle we face each day with our enemy the flesh. The force of the flesh is so strong Paul calls it the law of sin. And as a law sin’s power is strong against us. But we have hope! As Paul says,

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:25

Today refuse and choose!