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Anglers use various types of bait to catch fish with, depending on what kind of fish they want. Likewise, hunters and trappers use different sorts of traps for different animals, such as for bears and for raccoons. If poisons are developed they are generally used against insects or invasive plants such as weeds, not people. Regardless of whether it is baits, traps, or poisons, though, the different methods have one result: A radical change in the status of the animal or plant affected by one of these. The fish that has been hooked will most likely be eaten or mounted on someone’s trophy wall, never to swim the waters again. The animal that has been trapped probably will be killed, eaten, and possibly skinned for its fur, never again to roam the woods or the meadows it knew so well. Plants and animals hit with tailor-made poisons have one expectancy also, a fatal one at that. No more will the locust affected thereby destroy crops, having been killed by some pesticide. No more will the invasive weed choke out the plants around it, its own life force choked out by a lethal concoction of chemicals. Against this tapestry of death we can see  the silhouette of another foe, one just as real as any bait, trap, or poison and just as deadly: Sin.


James 1:13-15:  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.


In this passage from James we see some hard truths about sin outlined for us. Sin is never God’s fault. While God placed a curse upon all of creation when Adam and Eve sinned, He still left us with a free will to choose whether or not to do right or wrong, placing the responsibility for sinning squarely upon us. When we sin we do so because we want to. That is just as true of Christians as it is of nonbelievers. The difference between them and us is that we have the ability not to sin. The lost, though they can choose to do what is right, are nonetheless bound up in sin and therefore bound to commit sin. If the desire to do wrong is aroused enough, sinning will commence whether the person in question is lost or saved. If you sin, immediately repent and then resolve not to do it again. If you do not stop then the only other scenario is to keep doing it. The more you sin, the more you run the risk of reaching the point of no return with it (Romans 1:18-32). It is then that sin becomes full-grown.


Only God knows when sin gets to that point. When sins of any kind reach that level, however, life is terminated. According to Strong’s Concordance, the NT Greek word for full-grown (finished in the KJV) in this passage is apoteleo (ap-ot-el-EH-oh), meaning “to consummate, that is, to complete entirely, to accomplish, to bring to an end.” Likewise the word for death at the end of this same passage is thanatos (THAN-a-toss), which means not only “the death of the body” but also “wretchedness in hell.” In other words, physical death followed by damnation. What is so chilling about this passage in James is that the author is not addressing unbelievers, but Christians. We have discussed in the past that a believer’s salvation can be forfeited, so we will not rehash all that here. The point is that sin is not to be taken lightly or played around with.


Another way people look at some sins is that they are habits, and there is considerable truth to this. If someone does something often enough, whether it is good or bad, it becomes a habit. Notice this Scripture here:


Proverbs 22:6:  Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.


Ideally, a child should be brought up in a Christian home. Early in life, he or she should be taught how to live as a Christian, and once these ways are instilled they are not usually easily abandoned. Therefore one can conclude that the tendency to form habits is a safety feature hardwired into us by God so that we can obey Him once we are saved. Via neuroplasticity as well as the work of the Holy Spirit our brains can be rewired to operate in good habits and along pathways of righteous thinking. Conversely, a person brought up poorly is set up for failure and, ultimately, damnation. Persons can become so hardened in their hearts that their consciences are seared (1 Timothy 4:2), rendering them unable and unwilling to repent. This can certainly happen when it comes to bad habits.


We have all heard of, and some of us have known of, someone who could not stop doing something even though what they were doing was destroying them. There are those who kept drinking even after being diagnosed with cirrhosis. There are persons who could not stop smoking even after developing COPD. Some could not give up drugs even after extensive damage to their organs, or illicit sex even after contracting STD’s or getting into trouble with the law. People have died deeply immersed in the habit they could not let go of. Does this mean that the Christian grown obese from gluttony who dies of a heart attack goes to hell? Not necessarily. Does this mean that the Christian who relapsed into drinking and now is terminally ill with cirrhosis has forfeited his or her salvation? No, that is not a given.


There are people who put up a valiant fight against the things they are ensnared in and may die while fighting their habit whereas others have broken the cycle of addiction but still have to deal with the consequences of their poor decisions. Implicit in ongoing sins or bad habits is the idea of having reached the point of no return—having a seared conscience, being given over to a reprobate mind. A person in such a tragic spiritual condition no longer cares, even when knowing of the disaster awaiting them for remaining on such a devastating course of living.


I have a saying: “The person who decides to indulge in a sin may think it’s a mouse trap, not knowing that it is actually a bear trap.” In other words, someone may decide to do something sinful such as indulging in a one-day drinking binge or a one-time illicit sexual encounter, thinking they can walk away from it and either not do it again or be able to control themselves. It is true also that not every sin leads to a habit or an addiction. A mouse trap may hurt to get caught in, but it is much easier to free yourself from it than the more powerful bear trap. You do not know what sin it is that will ensnare you.


For me, I had no intentions of becoming addicted to alcohol and sex.. I had no idea that a little booze here and some porn there would morph into the major issues that they became in my life. I thank God that He had mercy on me and saved my soul, freeing me from these hideous bondages. However, I am also aware that although I am a new (spiritual) creation in Christ, in my old flesh nature is every evil tendency I have ever had, and if I were to backslide far enough I could find myself once more in bondage to these and perhaps other dreadful behaviors. I must steer clear of the flesh and stay in the Spirit. The benefits of walking in the Spirit are obvious, as is the battle to live for Jesus Christ:


Galatians 5:16-17:  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.


Each day we have a choice of whom we will serve: The Lord, or some other master (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 6:24). We can either serve God or the world, the Spirit or the flesh, but not both. Every one of us is vulnerable to some particular sin or sins. Satan knows this, and he sends his demons out daily to ensnare the lost and the saved alike. These malevolent anglers, trappers, and wielders of spiritual poison know just what to allure, entangle, and snuff out the lives of people with, be it sex, alcohol, drugs, greed, violence, power, or whatever else it takes to derail someone. The lost are taken captive to do the will of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26). The saved are tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil through the avenues of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17). Make up your mind to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ every day. As this Scripture says:


Romans 13:11-14:  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.


As Christians let us remain in covenant with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Turn away from the enemy’s multitude of baits, beware of his many traps, and do not partake of any of his poisons. Leave your sins behind you. Leave sin behind you. Reach out to the lost that some may be saved. Warn the erring to return to the Lord. Encourage your fellowsaints to continue in the good fight of faith and stay in this good fight yourself (1 Timothy 6:12). You will not regret it. As Paul’s life on earth neared its end, as he awaited beheading at the hands of the Christian-hating Roman Empire, he was able to say this:


2 Timothy 4:6-8:  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.


May we also say we have kept the faith. If any of us have backslidden, may we say we came to our senses and returned to our heavenly Father much as the prodigal son returned to his (Luke 15:11-32). Be a trophy of grace, not a trophy on the devil’s wall.



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