Tag Archives: sin

Escaping Sin

In my personal Bible reading, I came across the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea and I was reminded that the cloud/fire had already led them along a certain path, but “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea,'” (Exodus 14:1-2, italics mine). Turn back! Turn back, people! They were out of Pharaoh’s reach and God tells the people to turn back. And where? Not only closer to Pharaoh, but near the sea. In essence, God is calling on the people of Israel to put themselves in a place of no escape.

The purpose was two-fold. The first: to finally rid the people of Pharaoh and his army. The second: to show the people of Israel how great He was. What seemed to the Israelites as them being led to the slaughter was actually being led to deliverance. They didn’t see that; they didn’t know that at the time, as is clearly shown in the account given by Moses: “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt,'” (Exodus 14:11)?  If you read the rest, they let it be known that they would have rather died in Egypt than have Egypt fight against them.

What a perfect illustration for sin. While Egypt did literally go after Israel, the writers of Scripture would often use Egypt as an allusion to sin. Like Egypt (and Pharaoh), there is a great struggle over God’s people, yet when God calls, Egypt, Pharaoh, and the false gods are no match. But often, like the Israelites, living without the “comforts” of sin, there is a longing to go back. Sometimes, it isn’t the “comforts” but the punishment that sin gives to those who leave. Though not the perfect illustration, those on heroin generally go back for another hit because the body punishes them through withdrawal symptoms. Not being able to handle the havoc upon their bodies, souls, and minds, they simply return to the drug to stop the pain. That’s what sin does to us as well, especially if it was an addictive sin.

Here is God, taking His people and putting them into a situation, not to tempt them to go back, but telling them to trust Him. Sin, I mean Pharaoh’s army, is near. There is no way of escape that they can see. Will they respond in faith? Paul told the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13). When sin is near, so often we see no way of escape. Like the Israelites, we simply want to give up and go back to Egypt. Get the worst of it over with, and at least not be in such a situation. The sea is before us, the sin is behind us. There is no way to escape. Except, there is. Moses knew it. God knew it. But the people were blind to it. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” (Exodus 14:13-14).

I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, and I do not pretend to tell you that you’ll never see the same sin ever again in your entire life. But I do have the same confidence that God is able to deliver us no matter how many times sin seeks to capture us and no matter how many times the Red Sea (no escape) is before us. That is the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13. The way of escape, more often than not, is the way of faith. Walking and living–not by what is seen (all we can see is the temptation and the futility)–but walking and living moving forward, even if it means walking into the sea. What was once thought to be a hindrance to moving forward and escaping the wrath of Pharaoh, became the means of deliverance. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground,” (Exodus 14:21-22). . .

Even when the Egyptians pursued them through the sea, the people kept moving. They never stopped. Once they saw the way of escape, they had the courage to go all the way through, no matter what. What became the way of escape for them, became the grave of their pursuers. Sin so often gets our eyes off the escape route. We can’t imagine how God will use what is in front of us to get us away from that which is behind us. Let God worry about that. Let Him fight on our behalf.  I love Exodus 14:25, where someone in Pharaoh’s army shouts, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” No longer were the Israelites fleeing from Egypt but Egypt was fleeing from the Israelites! Only by God’s strong arm and grace is that ever possible.

The next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer and get to the “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” part, maybe Exodus 14 will come to mind. While God does not tempt us, He does try our faith (“temptation” can be translated as putting on trial); but if He so chooses (the request is ours, but the choice is His), like Israel He has the strong arm and the grace to deliver us.

I’d love to read your comments. If you would be so kind as to leave them, I will get back to you. If this article was a blessing or you believe it could bless others feel free to copy the link and share it on your social media.

All Scripture was taken from the ESV, published by Crossway.

If You Linger, You Die!

I was reading my Bible today, and the story of Lot in Sodom struck me hard all over again. If you aren’t familiar with the entire story, I’d encourage you to read Genesis 18-19 and get the idea of what is going on.

Lot saw these two angels coming, strangers to the land, and immediately bowed down and invited them into his home to stay.  While hospitality was a big deal in this culture, Lot was not simply trying to be kind to the strangers.  He understood what the men of Sodom were capable of doing.  He was being protective.  He knew the ways of his city and he was ashamed and fearful.

Notice that Lot wanted to get the men in his house as quickly as he could and then get them out before anyone else in the city woke up.  In an age of hospitality, you didn’t simply invite people to stay the night, but you offered to let them stay well into the day.  Before they ever accepted his offer, as politely as he could, let them know they would be leaving early as if he knew where they were going and that they were in a hurry to get there.  To the point that when the angels declined his offer, saying they’d just as well stay in the square and set up camp.  “He pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate,” (Genesis 19.3).

He pressed them strongly.  The mental image that you should have is that of Lot nearly tackling the men as they turned to go into the square.  He lunged at them.  Perhaps picture in your head Lot grabbing the men roughly around the chest and then smoothing out there robes, saying, “What’s the hurry?  I insist.  I won’t take no for an answer.”  Lot would do anything to keep the men from seeing the sin in which he lived.  So he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread.  Once again, hospitality but fast hospitality.  A feast, but unleavened bread. There was no time for bread to rise.  He needed them to go to sleep.  It’s like the mentality of Christmas for little children.  The sooner you go to bed the sooner Christmas comes.  The sooner they went to sleep the sooner morning would come and he could send them on their way.

Can you see yourself in story?  I can.  God, or perhaps one of his representatives enters into my sinful life, and all I can do is try and hide the life in which I know I live.  Just hoping that I can get through this moment without my sin catching up with me.  Everything is fine.  It’s all good.  Great to see you; stay for a while, a little while.  Pretending that nothing is going on outside the doors of your house.

But as Numbers 32.23 says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” I am not saying that Lot was anything like the men of Sodom.  However, as we will see, he was aversely affected by them.  “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,” (Genesis 19:4-5).

Can you imagine the look of horror and shame on his face as he had to confront those men at his door?  Confronting sin is never fun.  It’s horrifying and it is shaming.  But sin is not something that will ever be hidden from God.  It is not something that one can pretend isn’t happening.  That sin is pounding at your door.  You hear it.  God hears it.  There’s no denying that it’s happening.  The question is, will you confront it?

Lot, mustered up his strength and confronted the men.

Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof,” (Gen 19.6-8).

Here is why I say he was aversely affected by the people of Sodom.  Rather than giving up the two men, he was willing to give up two of his daughters.  Let this be a lesson for us all.  Sin will not allow half-hearted, half-measured efforts to be satisfied.  Sin is not to be trifled with.  It is not to be bargained with.  We don’t compromise with sin.  John Owen once wrote:

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.

“But they said, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down’,” (Genesis 19.9).  Half-measured, half-hearted, compromising trifles are never enough when dealing with sin.  It’s kill or be killed.  As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”  The phrase, “pressed hard” in verse nine is the same word that was used when Lot urged the angels strongly to come to his home.  I like the NLT’s way of translating, the “lunged.”

At this point, the angels pull their host back in, strike the men with blindness, and tell Lot Sodom will be destroyed so he had better get his family out of there.  Lot went to his future sons-in-law, but they thought he was joking and did nothing.  Which leads us to verse 15 once again.  “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’”  This is the second warning for Lot.  Punishment is eminent.  There is no time to waste.

Oh that we would understand that we must flee from wickedness immediately!  The promise of judgment is assured.  It is coming.  John Piper did a series of blogs that he calls A.N.T.H.E.M.

A – Avoid all possible temptation.

N – (this is the one I’m focused on) No. Say no.  Piper says we have about 5 seconds to say no before the temptation gets lodged in our minds and hearts.

T – Turn your eyes toward Christ.

H – Hold on to a promise from God

E – Enjoy Jesus more than sinful pleasure

M – Move away from idleness and find something to do.

The warning is true.  Judgment and punishment is coming and it could come at any moment.  We don’t believe it and so we do nothing about it. We are betting our very lives that this is not the moment.  But we are assured that as every second goes by, we are one second closer, and we don’t know when.  Say no immediately.  Don’t hesitate.  Don’t linger. Don’t be like Lot. We see in the very next verse these horrifying, awful, but so relatable words, “But he lingered,” (Genesis 19.16).  I think the whole of chapter 19 revolves around those three words.  But he lingered.

As always, I’d love to read your comments, whether you agree or disagree with me. If you liked this or found this to be a blessing or helpful, please let me know that too. Feel free to share the article on your social media page or with someone you believe could be helped.