BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Stolen bread may taste sweet at first, but later it will feel like a mouth full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17 NCV).
Have you tried to eat rice or beans before, only for your teeth to, unexpectedly, grind one extraneous stone? The stone stopped you from continuing to chew and swallow the food in your mouth. You had to spew it out of your mouth. What you experienced is far from a mouth full of gravel, which our anchor scripture describes as the outcome of stolen bread. Stolen bread may taste sweet, but it is a lie.
Sin is like stolen bread, which appears to taste sweet at first, but afterward, the mouth that has eaten the stolen bread will be filled with gravel – mouth full of gravel of guilty conscience, punishment, and humiliation that follow exposure of sin. The pleasures of sin don’t last; soon, the pleasures will turn to pressures! Wise people run away from sin. “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident” (Proverbs 14:16 NKJV).
The prodigal son and the temporary pleasures of sin
Do you remember the prodigal son? He’s surely a popular guy, so popular that the phrase prodigal son has become part of the English lexicon, though many don’t know the full story of the parable Jesus told in the Bible! For some time, everything appeared to be going well with him, after he had demanded and collected his own portion of the inheritance from his father. He travelled to a far country where he squandered his inheritance with riotous living. After exhausting his resources, there was a great famine, and he began to lack. Poverty became his guest, and hunger became his teacher!
In frustration, he joined himself to an anonymous citizen of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine, and, his hope of eating from the husks, meant for the swine, was dashed. After all, he wasn’t a pig! As his condition continued to degenerate, he concluded he must return to his father; and so, he ran back home (Luke 15:11-21). Thank God that his father was still alive to receive him and welcomed him back. If not, he would have had no chance with his elder brother who couldn’t even tolerate the fact that his father could be so forgiving to throw a welcome party for a wayward, rebellious, run-away brother.
There is a way that seems right to man but the end is destruction (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). The pleasures of sin are temporary. Satan only deceives you by telling you what you’ll enjoy; he doesn’t tell you what you’ll suffer! He tells you what you’ll gain; he doesn’t tell you what you’ll lose! Friend, what you’ll lose is far greater than the lie the devil is telling you about what you’ll gain. The Bible says Satan has always hated the truth and there is no truth in him; when he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies; when he lies, he speaks his native language (John 8:44). Don’t become a casualty of his lies and wiles!
Esau and the temporary pleasures of sin
Everything appeared to be going well when Esau sold his birthright. He collected the food from his brother, ate it, and went away (Genesis 25:29-34). There was no obvious change; life went on as usual. But later, when the consequences of his action dawned on him; when the time for the harvest of the seed he had planted came, he wept bitterly for the birthright, but it was too late. The Bible calls him a profane or godless person and warns us not to emulate him (Hebrews 12:16-17).
Don’t listen to the devil’s lies. The devil will try to deceive you that “Stolen water is sweeter. Stolen bread tastes better” (Proverbs 9:17 GNT). But those who believed that lie in the past are already doomed for the depths of hell; they are lamenting today. American theologian, Tryon Edwards, is quoted as saying, “Sinful and forbidden pleasures are like poisoned bread; they may satisfy appetite for the moment, but there is death in them in the end.”
Pay attention to God’s Word
Proverbs 7:24-27, warning against sexual sin, which those deceived by immoral women go into because of temporary pleasures, says, “Listen to me, my sons, and pay attention to my words. Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her. Don’t wander down her wayward path. For she has been the ruin of many; numerous men have been her victims. Her house is the road to the grave. Her bedroom is the den of death” (NLT). Don’t be deceived by the pleasures of sin. “You cannot carry hot coals against your chest without burning your clothes, and you cannot walk on hot coals without burning your feet” (Proverbs 6:27-28 NCV). Soon, what you think you’re enjoying will begin to make you miserable. The pleasures will expire, and the pressures will set in!
Run away from sin. Flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Flee from idolatry – anything that exalts itself above God, that seeks to come before God in your life (1 Corinthians 10:14). Flee all forms of lust (1 John 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:22). Abstain from every appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b NLT).
Don’t be deceived
Friend, don’t become a victim of the devil’s lie that sin is sweet; otherwise, very soon, you’ll be weeping like Esau for your own birthright, which you’ve exchanged for the temporary pleasures of sins of fornication, adultery, drug, drunkenness, cultism, bribery, stealing, etc. All these sins have negative consequences now and in eternity – those who indulge in these sins and the like won’t have a share in the Kingdom of God; their part is in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8) if they refuse to repent and forsake them.
You may see many people indulging in the pleasures of sin now, but don’t be deceived; they’ll soon face the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, not all the people who saw them when they were ‘enjoying’ sin, as if there would not be any consequences, will be there later to see them harvest what they’ve sown. In fact, many today have already entered their harvest season and are currently suffering after the temporary pleasures of sin, which they indulged in, had expired. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV).
Child of God, others may be engaging in the pleasures of sin, but you can’t because you’ve been redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus, the blood as of a lamb without spot (1 Peter 1:19). You’ve been washed clean in the blood of Jesus, not to be defiled again by sin; rather you should glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). You must not follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2). “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV). There is no fellowship between light and darkness (verse 14). The pleasures of sin don’t last – don’t be deceived.
In Genesis 39:6b-12, Joseph resisted the pleasures of sin, and, though he suffered unjustly, being imprisoned, the Lord was with him (verse 23b). The Lord later vindicated him, brought him out of the prison, and promoted him. Don’t yield to the temptation of the pleasures of sin. Resist temptation. Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (NKJV). It is better to suffer for resisting temptation than to enjoy temporally the pleasures of sin and weep for a long time or be eternally lost. Look at the example of Moses – he resisted the temptation of the pleasures of sin. Hebrews 11:24-26 says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (NKJV). Because of this, Moses’ faith is commended to us today.
If you don’t resist temptation, it’s just a matter of time – what tastes like bread now will turn to gravel! Beloved, a stone is what it is; don’t turn stone to bread! (Matthew 4:3). Don’t help yourself! Let God help you – He is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Luke 17:1a says, “There will always be temptations to sin” (NLT), but you must not surrender to temptations – resist temptations to bloodshed; strive against it. Be a victor, not a victim! God will always make a way of escape out of every temptation for you if you can hold unto Him (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Reuben yielded to the temptation of the temporary pleasures of sexual immorality – he slept with Bilhah, his father’s wife or concubine – the maid of Rachael, his mother’s rival, given to his father to give birth to children on her behalf because of her delayed pregnancy (Genesis 35:22; 29:29; 30:1-7; 35:25). He ruined his destiny because of this sin.
The Bible doesn’t record that his father, Israel, did anything when he committed this sin. Genesis 35:22 only says, “Israel heard about it.” The Bible doesn’t tell us he did anything. But when it was most important, the day his father was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon him, his sin found him out. Numbers 32:23 says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” On the day his father was declaring upon his children what would befall them in the future, Reuben must have gotten the greatest shock of his life – his sin was ‘exhumed’, and a sentence was pronounced on him. He was the number one child, but he forfeited the right to double inheritance from his father because he defiled his father’s bed (Genesis 49:3-4).
The ‘enjoyment’ Reuben had when he slept with his father’s concubine or wife, had long expired, but this sin of incest cost him his destiny. Beware of the temporary pleasures of sin. As pronounced by his father, Reuben and his tribe never excelled.
What must you do
1. If you’re not born again, repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NKJV). Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). You must be born again!
2. If you’re already born again, stop sinning.1 Corinthians 15:34a says, “Come to your senses and stop sinning” (NLT). The Bible also says in John 5:14b, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you” (NLT). Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11 NKJV). 1 John 5:18 says, “We know that those who have become part of God’s family do not make a practice of sinning” (NLT). Those who’re born again don’t sin habitually; they don’t continue to sin.
3. Keep renewing your mind daily by feeding and meditating on the Word of God. Dwight L. Moody says, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.” When you renew your mind daily with the Word of God, the Holy Spirit transforms you. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a NKJV).
4. Surrender yourself to the control of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (NKJV). That chapter goes further to say in verse 25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (NKJV). You must live a Spirit-controlled life.
5. Strive against sin by resisting temptations. Don’t yield to temptations. Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (NKJV). Temptation is not a sin, once you don’t yield to it. Jesus faced the same temptations we do face, yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). So, don’t succumb to temptations.
6. Quit any relationship with people and association with places and things that expose you to the pleasures of sin. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV). You must come out from among them and be separate from whosoever or whatsoever exposes you to the pleasures of sin (2 Corinthians 6:17). “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20 NKJV). Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
Conclusion: There will always be temptations to sin; Satan will always present to you the pleasures of sin. But you must acknowledge that sin is evil and don’t harbour any secret love for the pleasures of sin. Resist every temptation by the help of the Holy Spirit, and God will help you to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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