By Elam B. Kuykendall (1908-1993)
One of the greatest of the exceeding great and precious promises that God has given us is this: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). If we really want an escape from sin, we can find it. Many Christians either have not learned this or they do not want to find the way of escape.
Many do not look for a way of escape soon enough. They want to engage in all kinds of worldly practices, get all the thrills and worldly pleasures, and then when they begin to reap of their own sowing they want an escape. We must remember, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). If you want to be free from sin do not wait until you are almost engulfed in some great scandal to start searching for the way of escape.
Sins that Lead to Other Sins
One of the great differences in Christ’s law and the Law of Moses is that Christ forbids those things that lead up to the overt acts of sin. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28).
Often people do not look for a way of escape until they are almost ready to commit the overt act. They do not realize that they have already been sinning in doing those things that lead up to the overt act of sin.
The Principle Applied
The principle stated above can be applied to any sin. To illustrate the application let us consider the sin of adultery. Certainly Christians want to escape this sin. God is so good to his children that he provides a way of escape even after they have failed or refused to seek the way of escape early in the chain of events leading toward the act itself. But is he pleased with his children when they continue to disregard the opportunities of escape he offers?
Some of those things leading toward the act of adultery and fornication are: vulgar talk, seeing immodest pictures (either on the screen or off), immodest dressing (either when swimming, at athletic events or anywhere else), dancing, and petting. But these not only incite lust and lead toward fornication; they are sinful in themselves. The very fact that they incite lust makes them lascivious. (See Dictionary.) Of those who are guilty of lasciviousness God says, “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
The place God wants the sin of adultery or fornication stopped is to stop those things leading toward it. Do not let Satan blind your eyes by his oft repeated question, “Where is the harm in that?” The “god of this world” will blind your eyes if you will but let him (2 Cor. 4:4).
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:9). To dress immodestly would be to violate this scripture. Since “sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), immodest dressing is in itself sin, not merely a step toward sin. Since God did not say, “Adorn yourselves in modest apparel except when in swimming or on the athletic field,” we must conclude that he wants us to dress modestly everywhere. A Christian must refuse to participate in that which requires immodest dressing.
But here again many Christians try to escape only the act itself rather than those things that lead up to the sin. God says, “Train up a child in the way in which he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). By what stretch of imagination can a parent feel that he is training up a child to dress modestly when he allows that child to go almost entirely naked? (Incidentally this applies to boys as well as to girls.)
If we would all look more for God’s first way of escape from sin instead of ignoring it and many others, waiting for the very last escape just before a terrible scandal, there would be many more true followers of Christ in the world, “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4) (Gospel Digest, Aug. 1953, pp. 1-3).
Guardian of Truth XL: 8 p. 23
April 18, 1996