I have made it my goal to write short posts reflecting on my devotional reading every day. These posts are composed off the cuff, in 30 minutes or less. The following is one such post. Before writing this post, I read: 2 Kings 6–10, Psalm 5, Proverbs 5.
Adultery. It has torn countless families and destroyed innumerable ministries over the years. Over and over again, the refrain is the same: “I never thought it would happen to me!” and “I never meant for it to go this far!”1 Given the evidence of the years, though, no one should ever cavalierly say, “I’ll never do that.” Say it, yes. But back it up by making concrete choices every day not to break vows to your spouse.
Proverbs 5 couldn’t be clearer: adultery looks good from the outside and feels good at the outset:
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
No one commits adultery because it looks so dreadful. People commit this sin— like every other—because it looks good. The trick, of course, is that it is not. The Proverb highlights the contradiction of sin powerfully: sin looks sweet, but proves bitter. It seems smooth, but only proves smoothly destructive as it slices away at everything you value. Sin always produces the opposite of what it promises. Adultery promises intimacy, but adultery destroys intimacy. Drugs promise liberated minds; instead they produce addiction. Covetousness promises satisfaction; instead it produces only an ever-gnawing emptiness. Sin is like a sweet-tasting infection that rots us from the inside out.
But it is more than that. Sin is not bad only because it proves so ruinous to us —though certainly it is bad for that reason. Sin is bad because it is high treason, because it is at its core a rejection of the good, the true, the beautiful in that it is a rejection of God in the exaltation of self. Sin is ruinous to us in part because it is the undoing of everything of what we are: beings made to worship the Triune God, instead kneeling to our own reflection in the mirror instead of the one we were meant to reflect.
But God is a righteous judge. He is holy. He does not tolerate sin. Psalm 5 puts it in sharp relief:
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
God detests sin.2 Not just the hot-button sin issues of our day (though those are not excluded), but our pettiness and jealousy, our deceptions great and small, our boasting and pride. We are all evildoers. And yet, wonder of wonders, we live still. Though God who made us and at whom we have all shaken our fists in rebellion would be perfectly within his rights to end us without a thought; he does not. He shows mercy. He forbears long. He waits to bring judgment.
He provides a way of escape. We, like David, can enter his house “through the abundance of [his] steadfast love.” That steadfast love, that covenant love, that almight love, has reached down and partaken of frail humanity and death and even of divine wrath, so that God might be glorified in his holiness. We are saved not because God is sentimental or sappy, but because he is righteous, and has already paid the price for our sins.