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Is there pleasure in sin? The Bible teaches that sometimes there is – that is for a time. You are probably familiar with the passage in the Bible found in Heb. 11:2425 that speaks of the “pleasures of sin for a season” (KJV) or “the passing pleasures of sin” as the New King James puts it. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” (Heb. 11:24-25 NKJV) There is another passage found in 2 Thess. 2:12 that also teaches there is pleasure in sin. That text simply speaks of those who will be condemned because they had “pleasure in unrighteousness.” (NKJV) One would be a liar and fully aware of his lie if he was to deny that sin can be pleasurable. He would know he was lying not only because of what the word of God has said about it in the passages above but also from his own personal life experiences. Who can say that they have not enjoyed sin at one time or another or at least found it preferable to doing right? If sin was unpleasant who would ever willingly engage in it? We do not, under ordinary circumstances, voluntarily engage ourselves in that which is disagreeable or brings us pain and yet the Bible teaches that “all have sinned.” (Rom. 3:23 NKJV) The only logical conclusion a man can make is that humanity has not found sin to be unpleasurable, just the opposite. Who can say that he has not been attracted to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life?” (1 John 2:16 NKJV) Eve was and she is the mother of us all. That is not to say we inherit sin or have to sin but it is certain we have a strong attraction to it as human beings. The word “pleasures” (plural) is used 4 times in the New King James version of the New Testament. Each time it is used it is in a context related to committing sin. (1) The first time it is used is in the parable of the soils (Luke 8:14) as Jesus is explaining the parable. “And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” It is clear Jesus is teaching that the pleasures of life can get in the way of more important things, spiritual matters, and in the end result in a man having no spiritual crop to harvest. In the last day what do they do who have no crop to give to the Lord? “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jer. 8:20 NKJV) I understand what a disaster it would be for a farmer to come to the end of the season and have no crop but how about a man who comes to the end of life and has no spiritual crop worthy of being harvested, has nothing to show for a life lived? That is the great danger that the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life bring. The
things of the world become more important to us than the things of God and we end up reaping what we have sown. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Gal. 6:7-8 NKJV) Not everything that is pleasurable is sin but even when a pleasure is not sinful in and of itself we can make it a sin by putting indulgence in it a priority before God making it an idol we worship ahead of God. Will we have kept the pleasures of life at bay sufficiently to have done our duty before God and man when our time to depart this world has come? We need to do that for we read of those who did not do it in Paul’s day, certain widows, of whom he says, “She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” (1 Tim. 5:6 NKJV) The teaching of Jesus is clear – life is to be lived in service to God and man and not for pleasures. (2) The second time we find the word “pleasures” in the New Testament is in Titus 3:3, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (NKJV) It is a word that is not in good company in this verse. Look at the words that surround it – foolish, disobedient, deceived, lusts, malice, envy, hateful, hating. The point is much as it was in the parable of the soils – the pleasures of life can become our master, a master we serve, destroying the spiritual life we are suppose to be building. Paul says some at Rome had been “slaves of sin.” (Rom. 6:17 NKJV) Do you suppose a man can become a slave to pleasure? Paul in Titus 3:4 says that in the last days some will be, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (NKJV) Back in Romans he said, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16 NKJV) One can become addicted to a particular pleasure where it becomes an idol replacing God in his heart. Here is just a simple application of this sort of thing. Most Christians know they ought to be in worship service come the first day of the week, on Sunday. But, how many times in your life have you seen God take a back seat that day, not worshipped at all, because of some special event that brought pleasure? Give a man who has an interest in it a ticket to an NFL game, the Indy 500, or whatever it might be, even just a special family get together, and chances are God will come in second place. Our idea is we can worship God any old Sunday but this is a one time opportunity. We ought to ask ourselves “a one time opportunity to do what – put God second?”
(3) The next time we run across the word “pleasures” in the New Testament is the passage first referred to in this article as we began – the Heb. 11:24-25
passage concerning Moses already quoted. What was there about being in the house of royalty in Egypt that was sinful? We are not told but I suspect we could all make educated guesses and would not miss it too far. That being said there are three awfully important points found in this passage for our consideration. (a) The place to be is with God’s people, “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.” (Heb. 11:25 NKJV) That is where we all belong. We were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). God is a spiritual being (John 4:24). We are spiritual beings, his creation; we belong with him and with his people. Moses realized that. (b) Sin is pleasurable but only for a time and that time is passing. What then? “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23 NKJV) (c) Unless we die first we all reach an age where we are held accountable to God. The text says, “when he became of age.” (Heb. 11:24 NKJV) When that time arrives in our life we can no longer blame others for our shortcomings and failures. The burden of our life becomes our own. When we come to the fork in the road it is no longer Mom or Dad who chooses which path we will take. We must choose for our self and will be held accountable accordingly. Will our choice be the passing pleasures of sin or a life of service to God, a life of decency and of righteousness? No one forces us against our will to live the life we live. It is a personal choice. (4) The last time we find the word “pleasures” in the New King James New Testament is in James 4:3. Because the context is important here I will quote James 4:1-4, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (NKJV) The New Living Translation translates the latter part of verse 4, “I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world you can’t be a friend of God.” When one looks at all 4 passages in the New Testament where the word “pleasures” is used the message is inescapable. In God’s eyes life is not about personal pleasures or pleasing self and the man who seeks a life of
pleasure over a life of service is not only misguided but on a road that leads to spiritual destruction. Jesus said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45 NKJV) This was just after telling his disciples, “whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43-44 NKJV) We should ask not what pleasures the world can bring to us but what good we can do for the world in bringing the world to God and rendering service to our fellowman? Let us not become foolishly involved in the pleasures of sin for a season that brings sorrow for eternity.