Stay Away From the Edge

Have you ever observed a person, perhaps a little child, walking down a busy street and trying to get as close to the road as possible?  Most of us can recognize the danger in such a behavior.  However, do we try to see how close we can get to sin without actually falling into it?  Does the Bible encourage or discourage us from trying to get as close to sin as possible?

The book of Proverbs contains valuable wisdom for how to live one’s life according to godly wisdom.  Proverbs 14:16 seems to address the topic at hand.  It says, “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident” (NKJV).  Wisdom is not displayed by seeing how close to evil one can get but rather stays far away from evil.  The fool is over confident in his ability to get close to sin and not fall.  Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12 say, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (NKJV).  Wisdom recognizes where a danger exists and seeks to take steps to avoid getting near it while a simple minded man may go ahead and get himself in trouble.  Proverbs 4:14-15 says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.  Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on” (NKJV).  The book of Proverbs, like the rest of God’s word, encourages us to stay far away from evil rather than seeing how close to it we can get and not get hurt.

The New Testament would teach us to “flee” from evil.  1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality.  Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (NKJV).  1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (NKJV).  2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (NKJV).  One is not fleeing from sin when they are trying to get as close as possible to it.  Fleeing involves seeking to get as far away from sin as possible.  Romans 13:14 teaches us to, “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (NKJV).  Instead of trying to get as close to sin as we can, we need to stay away from things which might lead us into sin and tempting situations.

Let’s think about some areas where we might be tempted to get as close as we can to the edge rather than fleeing from sin:

  • People oftentimes want to see how close they can get to fornication without engaging in the sin.  People may look upon people with lust, which is sinful in itself (Matthew 5:27-28), and then wonder how they fell into the sin of fornication.  People may see how much physical contact they can have with someone else, such would be condemned by the term “lewdness” (Galatians 5:19-21), and then act shocked when they end up committing fornication.  People may engage in flirtatious behaviors with people and wonder how they end up committing fornication.  The best way to avoid fornication is not even to get involved in things which might lead a person in that direction.
  • People oftentimes want to see how little they can wear without becoming immodest in their dress.  God’s word teaches us to dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  Part of dressing modestly is dressing with adequate clothing so as not to draw ungodly attention to oneself.  People sometimes want to see how short, how sheer, how skimpy their clothing can become before becoming sinful.  Such an attitude sets us up to be an easy target of the devil and displays a heart set on being more like the world than on staying on safe ground (Romans 12:2).
  • People oftentimes want to know how much they have to study, pray, etc. in order to be faithful.  God’s word teaches we ought to be hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).  Instead of seeking to find the least we can do, let’s seek to be, “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NKJV).
  • People oftentimes want to know how bad some form of entertainment must be before they must avoid it.  God’s word teaches us the sort of things we ought to be meditating on (Philippians 4:8).  If we are feeding our mind with other things, we have departed from the standard set by God’s word.

Jesus teaches us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NKJV).  If we want to avoid being led into temptation, we need to not see how close to the edge we can get before falling into sin.