Friday, May 25 , 2018, 2:32 pm | A Few Clouds 65º


D.C. Collier: Sin Gives Us Something to Chew On, But It Won’t Stay Down

When I was in high school, one of the guys brought a package of Mail Pouch chewing tobacco to class. He challenged us to a dare no red-blooded 17 year old could resist. Take a wad of the innocent-looking blackish leaves, place them in your mouth and sit there for 45 minutes in class without spitting or being discovered by the teacher.

“What could go wrong?” I reasoned. My grandfather always chewed Mail Pouch, so big deal.1 Right?

I heard the words “I’ll do it” tumble out of my mouth and before I could unsay them, the offer was unanimously accepted and there was no honorable way out.

So, in went the wad of Mail Pouch, with all 30 sets of eyeballs fixed on my confident demeanor, and our teacher obliviously moving forward with his lecture. Brother Joe was a dead-wringer for the fictional Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.2 A genuinely scary guy ... and I was about to end up in his crosshairs.

Has Sin Gone Out of Fashion? Really?

When you spend as much time at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission as I do, you stop doubting the reality of sin. You’re knee-deep in its results.

Post-moderns would have you believe that sin is just a lack of social conditioning. However, most thinking people intuitively suspect there is something more sinister at work. Read a newspaper lately? Could it be that the very existence of sin points to a deeper cause rooted in the “fallen” (fatally flawed) nature of man?

The Bible describes sin as “falling short of God’s perfect holiness.”3 This is an archery term, suggesting that we have missed a target’s bulls-eye. Who of us, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham included, can say we’ve come even close to living up to that standard?

Trouble is, God doesn’t grade on a curve when it comes to sin: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”4 Yikes.

My own grim record has taught me that sin in any form is ill-advised at best, especially when committed in a vain attempt to impress others. Sin often requires us to suspend reason and forge ahead anyway, opening us up to the additional charge of being downright stupid.

Sin Doesn’t Go Away, It Accumulates

I did my level-best not to swallow or generate too much saliva and got through the first five minutes unscathed. Then s—l—o—w—l—y, time began to stand still. Ten minutes on, my lips had turned white, straining against the mounting hydrostatic pressure. Small brown rivulets forming at the corners of my mouth. I was drowning.

They say that in waterboarding, torturers pour water onto the face over the breathing passages, causing an almost immediate gag reflex and creating a drowning sensation for the captive. I can relate. For me, this torture was being dragged out over the 10 minutes it took for me to believe I was about to die.

At first the class held back, but as my predicament went to DEFCON 1, the guys became hysterical with laughter. Brother Joe stopped class, slowly walked over and leered down at me, now pitifully slumped in my desk, cheeks bulging, with rapidly radiating stretch marks. He blocked all escape routes, and quietly uttered two words, “swallow it.”

And so, I did. In one excruciating gulp it was over ... or so I thought.

Sin Will Find You Out — Sooner or Later

Whoever had check-in duty in my stomach that day took one look at the seething black load coming its way and yelled, “Incoming! Oh god, what’s that!” and quickly screamed, “Send it back up, pronto!”

The ghastly blob, turned around and barreled due north with a vengeance.

Brother Joe was the first to feel the rumble, accompanied by the telltale signs of catastrophic digestive malfunction and stepped out of the line of fire just in time. The guys in front of me weren’t so lucky. Collateral damage was extensive, with people as far as 20 feet away getting slimed.

Something Must Be Done About It or You Die

It’s remarkable how much sin and cancer have in common:

» Like cancer, sin metastasizes (spreads) without limits and kills mercilessly.

» Like cancer, sin fools your immune system into thinking it is a friend, when it is really a foe.

» Like cancer, sin can’t be negotiated with, accommodated or appeased. It does not reside peacefully with its neighbors, and it seeks to kill everything to which it is exposed.

» Like cancer, sin can lie undetected for years before manifesting its true nature. It’s often asymptomatic until it’s too late.

» Like cancer, sin can be nearly impossible to differentiate from its healthy neighboring cells.

» Like cancer, sin only requires a few errant cells to begin an infection that consumes the entire host body. A true cure requires complete eradication — not just a reduction of numbers to a manageable level.

How About You?

Think your sins will just go away? Trouble is, try as you may to hide it, sin will find you out, often spectacularly. Sin has unexpected consequences and can turn us into fools for other’s amusement. And sadly, sin is not a victimless crime — someone always gets hurt (slimed) besides you.

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be discussing what God had to do to settle the “sin question” once and for all. The coming four religious festivals of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Passover and Easter beautifully depict the whole story. Stick around.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. In my frenzied pursuit of infamy, I forgot that when my grandfather was teaching me how to drive, he chewed and spat in precise five-minute intervals. His signal to slow down was a loud grunt and fearful stare when it “came time.” Once “locked and loaded,” he would open the passenger side door and let fly. It made for indelible brown “accent streaks” running down the side of the car, rendering the poor thing virtually unsellable on the used car market.

2. Crane was described by Irving as “tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes and a long snipe nose.” Yep. That was Brother Joe all right.

3. Romans 3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

4. James 2:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

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