I heard Christine Cain give a great illustration at the Code Orange revival held earlier this year at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. She said to imagine she took a bottle of poison, peeled off the label, and replaced it with a label that said “chocolate sauce” and put in your refrigerator. You would then take the jar and use it expecting to be satisfied with something sweet. In reality, what was in the jar would kill you. Her takeaway point was that “The milder you make the label, the more potent the sin.” We see this same scenario play out every day in our own lives. Things may appear to be sweet and pleasurable, but when we reach out and take them into our lives, the results turn bitter and eventually lead to death.
For too long we have sugar-coated many of the offenses spelled out in Scripture. We’ve justified ourselves by proclaiming that the Bible is simply a book of stories that are not relevant in our modern culture. Sins that we are not involved in ourselves are considered toxic, while those in which we engage are rationalized into something less than evil. While we might never consider shoplifting or robbing a bank, few of us give a second thought about doing personal business on company time or taking some small office supplies for use at our homes. We put labels on these activities such as “everyone’s doing it” or “they owe it to me”. We place a mild label on something that God simply calls sin. Over time our hearts become calloused until we are numb to the sin that begins to crowd its way into our lives.
We live in a highly sexualized age; advertisements focus on sensuality, the internet is loaded with pornography, and our society sees sex as the natural end to a dinner date. Slowly but surely, the moral standards of God have been eroded until they are now given little if any thought. Couples (young and old) decide a casual sexual relationship is preferable to the commitment of marriage. People exchange natural tendencies for those God condemns. We do all of this in the name of pleasure, convinced that we will find peace in physical actions devoid of spiritual intimacy. It’s an attractive label wrapped around a lifestyle of poison. It looks and tastes good, but once it is ingested the poison begins to wreak its destruction.
If we think that we can call evil good and escape without consequences we are horribly misled. The smallest sin has a way of multiplying rapidly. It is a cancer of the worst kind, easy to catch and impossible to eradicate save for the cleansing blood of Jesus. When we allow sin into our hearts it expands and consumes what we had set apart as devoted to Christ. We gave our hearts and our lives to Him; we surrendered our will to His and declared Him Lord of our life. But when we are deceived by the label, the potency of sin blinds our eyes, stops up our ears, and destroys our commitment.
We must be very careful what we allow into our lives. It is not enough to read the label; we have to examine what is inside. The flattering words of a so-called friend can lead you down a path of destruction. A wayward glance at someone attractive can lead to a lifetime of despair. Don’t accept anything for other than it is. When we minimize the authority of God’s instructions, we imperil our very lives. Always remember that the milder you make the label, the more potent the sin will be.