Where did it go wrong with Bob McDonnell? Where does it go wrong with any of us? Beware thinking that you or I are aren’t capable of the same things. And worse.
What Do You Do When You Want to Sin?
It’s a question I’ve been asking recently: how does someone purposely refuse sin when it’s sin that he wants to choose?
It’s easy to refuse sin when it’s not what you want, but what about when sin’s precisely what you most want?
The one who wants to commit adultery will choose adultery.
The one who wants to steal will choose theft.
The one wants to gossip will choose to spread the unkind word.
The one who wants to murder will choose murder.
At the moment when you are confronted with a sinful choice that you’ve already decided you want to take, it’s too late.
The First Murder in the Bible
The first murder in the Bible is in Genesis 4, but before it happens, the LORD God warns Cain, “Sin is lurking at the door. It’s desire is for you, but you must master it” [Genesis 4:7 NRSV].
At some point, rather than fearing sin, Cain welcomed it, and was devoured.
Cain murders Abel–his own brother–and murder has been part of the human story ever since.
No One Is Safe
Bob McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia, was sentenced Tuesday to 2 years in Federal Prison on corruption charges. Bob McDonnell is a Christian and is described by his family, associates, and political rivals as a good man. And yet for all that, Bob McDonnell made a choice to choose the sin that would devour him, but that choice wasn’t at the specific moment that a political donor asked him for some special favors: it was way before that.
At some point, Bob McDonnell made a choice to ignore small dishonest choices. And then those choices grew up.
Sin starts small, but grows. There are sins in my life that if I ignore–or worse, deliberately attract–will devour me.
Same goes for you.
At the moment we are faced with the sin that will devour us, it’s too late. The only way to be protected is to fight the sins early, when you don’t want them and when they are small.
Kill It Early
The easy time to kill adultery is when the first thought of it appears, not when you’re on the work trip with the co-worker you’ve been flirting and drinking with for 48 hours and whom you’ve been looking forward to sleeping with for several weeks. At that point, you want to choose sin, and you will. At that point, sin’s been lurking at your door a long time: its desire for you is probably much stronger than your desire to master it.
You fight theft by attacking the obvious signs of greed in your life.
You fight gossip by repenting of small harmful sentences you speak about others.
You fight murder by being aware of your tendency to small bursts of indignance and superiority.
It’s Lurking At Your Door
I’m not any better than anyone else. And neither are you. But for the grace of God, there we go.