“That Was A Long Time Ago”

By Richard Boone

I knew of him and his good work in the kingdom. I had learned from his writings — always substantive and well written. I had even used some of his published sermons, or at least points in them. But until recently, I’d never met him.

He attended a meeting in which I preached. He listened carefully, and nodded in agreement with points in the lesson. I did not actually introduce myself until after the service was over since he arrived just as it began. When he introduced himself, I immediately recognized his name and thanked him for the good I gleaned from his work. He expressed appreciation, but then slowly lowered his head and said, “But that was a long time ago.” My heart broke.

This brother had allowed sin to destroy his good influence in the kingdom, a living example of the deceitfulness. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13, italics mine, rb).

Sin is a monster, and as the tool of its father, the devil, havoc and ruin are its results. It rarely appears that way, though. Instead it comes incognito and works stealthily. Great damage is often done before it is diagnosed (2 Tim. 2:17-18).

The allurement to sin is strong and terribly deceptive. Consider the appeal of social drinking — it is made to look glamorous, classy, the “in thing” to do, an action of the successful person. In the end “it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper” (cf. Prov. 23:29-35). Alcohol’s destruction is well-documented. Several similar examples could be cited.

The destruction of sin is equally deceptive. One may think that an action has little or no con- sequence. At first that may seem to be true. Different sins have different consequences — few or many, and at different times some immediate, others long-term. But be assured of this — all sins have consequences!

Brothers and sisters, we are frequently warned about the power of sin from the Scriptures. Let us do all we can to remove sin from our lives (Rom. 6:12-13). If we don’t, we may have to look back on a life of good work and influence in the kingdom that has been destroyed by sin, and regrettably have to say, “That was a long time ago.”

— 6011 Hunter Road Ooltewah, Tennessee 37363