The Cost of Unfaithfulness
Just as there is a cost involved in being a disciple of Jesus, there is also a cost involved in living a life of sin. When we are tempted and give into sin, we often think of sin as appealing at the time. Such is what happened to Eve in the garden. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6, NKJV). Proverbs 9:17 speaks about how foolishly we end up thinking, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (NKJV). It is true sin may provide pleasure for the moment but the pleasure it brings is passing (Hebrews 11:25) and is soon replaced with the cost of unfaithfulness. Proverbs 20:17 describes it this way, “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel” (NKJV). Sin goes from something which seems sweet to something which really is more like having gravel in our mouth. Let’s look at some of the cost of sin/unfaithfulness.
Proverbs 13:15 reveals, “Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard” (NKJV). Godliness benefits one in this present life (1 Timothy 4:8) but sin creates hardships. Think about the individual who drinks alcoholic beverages. His life is filled with hardship because of his sinful behavior (Proverbs 23:29-35). Think about the lazy man. His life has problems brought about because of his laziness (Proverbs 24:30-34; Ecclesiastes 10:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Think about the individual who becomes addicted to some substance (whether legal or illegal) and the horrible consequences it bring upon him in this life. Think about the sexually immoral person who because of their promiscuity ends up contracting a sexually transmitted disease, has a child out of wedlock, etc. and the hardship these things bring (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Sin despite its promises of freedom bring instead hardship, bondage, and corruption (2 Peter 2:18-19).
Guilt and Shame
Sin brings with it guilt and shame. Consider the following two passages along this line. Proverbs 5:11-14, “And you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say: ‘How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation’” (NKJV). Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (NKJV). Reading the words and feelings of these individuals gives us a glimpse of the guilt and shame which accompanies a life of sin. A life of sin leaves one only with fruit which one is ashamed of (Romans 6:21).
Loss of Relationships
Being a follower of Christ will cost one some relationships with other individuals (Luke 6:22-23, 26; 14:26). Living a life of sin can result in one losing relationships as well. Godly individuals are warned to avoid evil company (Proverbs 12:26; 1 Corinthians 15:33). If one decides to live in sin, they may find their relationships with righteous people are not as close as they would be if they were living righteous lives. This point is especially true for the Christian who decides to turn back to the ways of the world and as a result Christians must withdraw themselves from them (1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15). If one values strong relationships with godly individuals, living a life of sin will not bring about such relationships.
The reward for faithfulness certainly outweighs whatever cost is involved in being faithful (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). On the other hand, the cost of unfaithfulness outweighs whatever temporary pleasure is brought about by a life of sin. Just as people may not look out far enough into the future when it comes to living a life of righteousness, many do not look out far enough into the future when it comes to living a life of sin. A person might sin and avoid much of the hardship that comes along with it (Psalm 73:3-12), may be able to sear their conscience to the point they feel very little, if any, shame or guilt (Ephesians 4:17-19; Philippians 3:19), and may not be concerned about losing relationships with righteous people if they are going to gain the friendship of the world (James 4:4). However, it is impossible for one to sow to the flesh and not reap the corruption which follows (Galatians 6:7-8). Eternal punishment is so severe it should lead us to do whatever it takes to get rid of sin so we do not have to spend eternity in a place, “where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’” (Mark 9:43-48, NKJV).
Recently, I was thinking about individuals who have left the Lord and went back into the ways of the world. I found myself thinking about why would they give up a relationship with righteous individuals who are dear to them in order to live in the world. Yet I then thought about how a person should not follow God just to have a relationship with another human being. Such led me to think about how those living in sin are not simply losing a relationship with the righteous throughout life but are choosing to go down a path which leads to eternal separation not just from the people of God but from God Himself (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Let’s avoid sin so we can be eternally in the presence of God along with the redeemed of all ages (Revelation 21:22-26; 22:3-5)! No sin is worth missing heaven for!