To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom. (Proverbs 10:23, NKJV)
People take pride in sporting accomplishments, whether their own, or those of their favorite teams. An example of this is “March Madness,” the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, which is down to the Final Four this weekend. Fans are passionate about their favorite team, joyful in victory and dejected in defeat. Sometimes, fans mock and deride the opposing team as they support their own. When it comes to doing evil, many people act the same way. They delight in the pleasure, joy and excitement of sin. They deride the suggestion that their sin is harmful. But, it is foolish to take a dismissive attitude toward evil. On the other hand, wisdom directs the person of understanding to see the danger of doing what is sinful. The wise person knows the end to which evil brings those who practice it, and turns away from it. “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:14). God’s warning is clear: Do not make sport of sin. Only the fool does that.
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:35–36, NKJV)
This passage is particularly instructive about what it means to preach Jesus. Preaching Jesus identifies Him as the suffering Servant of God who sacrificed His life (Acts 8:32-34; Isa. 53:7-8). It includes teaching about sin and salvation from it. The Ethiopian was lost, and wanted to be saved. The water would facilitate his salvation. When he asked Philip about baptism, he had not yet announced his personal faith in Jesus, since Philip stated that as the condition upon which he could be baptized (v. 37). To preach Jesus means preaching baptism, since the Ethiopian immediately asked about it when he saw water. How else did he know about baptism, expect that Philip spoke of it when he “preached Jesus” to him? Surely, he told the man what Jesus preached about baptism: “He that believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16). The Ethiopian confessed his personal faith, stopped the chariot, and Philip baptized him (Acts 8:37-38). The man joyfully went on his way, because he was saved when he believed and was baptized. Christ continues to save sinners the same way, today. What hinders you from being baptized to be saved?
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)
This passage does not excuse or encourage sins committed out of ignorance. Indeed, it plainly says that God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” of their sins – including sins of ignorance. This verse does acknowledge the forbearance of God, who mercifully gives sinners time to repent before interposing His just penalty against their sins (see Acts 14:16-17). Ignorance will not be an acceptable defense to free us from our sins and their wages (which is death, Rom. 6:23). God’s command to repent is merciful, since it seeks to prepare us for the coming day of judgment. Additionally, God has assured us of the future judgment by raising from the dead His appointed judge; Jesus Christ. Escaping eternal punishment on Judgment Day is a compelling motive to repent of our sins. God has been very clear. He will impose His punishment “on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). Are you ready for the Judgment Day? Now is the day of salvation in Christ (2 Cor. 6:2; Acts 4:12).
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30, NKJV)
God’s commandment, that all people everywhere repent, necessarily implies the existence of a common standard by which to know the sins in one’s life. Additionally, His command implies that standard can be effectively used to bring about the repentance (change of heart) that pleases God. The inspired Scriptures are declared to be the standard of truth that identifies sin and righteously corrects it (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jno. 17:17). We cannot know our sin (what to repent of), much less know what form that repentance should take, without God’s standard of truth identifying our sin and showing us how to correct it. Our feelings cannot determine what is sin against God. The ancient world plunged into sin’s darkness because it rejected divine truth and relied on emotional, human wisdom for guidance (Eph. 4:17-19; Rom. 1:21-25). Let us be thankful that God’s commands include how to thoroughly equip ourselves for every good work. Then, let us obey Him in order to faithfully serve Him and be ready for the day of judgment (Acts 17:31).
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18, NKJV)
Like the citizens of Corinth when the apostle Paul visited their city, many people today believe fornication (sexual immorality) is normal and natural, and no violation of social norms or divine truth. Yet, the Bible is clear. It violates God’s will. God intends us to use our bodies for holiness, not to fulfill sinful passions (1 Thess. 4:3-7). To commit sexual immorality (whether it is premarital sex, adultery – whether homosexual or heterosexual, bestiality, incest or pedophilia) is to sin against God and against the purpose He gave the body. Every sin we commit begins in the mind (“outside the body”), as Jesus taught in Mark 7:20-23. Sexually immorality is antagonistic to the very purpose God gave your body – to give glory to God as His dwelling place (1 Cor. 6:19-20). It is not love when sexual activity occurs outside of God-endorsed marriage; it is dishonorable in His sight. This is God’s judgment: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Christians are “joined to the Lord,” therefore, we must not join ourselves to a harlot (1 Cor. 6:16-18). Keep both mind and body pure, and serve the Lord in holiness.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Jesus is not saying to pray that we are never tempted; Temptations to sin come to us all. James settles the matter once and for all that the devil, not God, is the source of temptations (Jas. 1:13-15). Jesus is teaching us to pray for God’s watchful care so that we will not succumb to temptations (for by so doing, we choose to sin). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” was the Lord’s exhortation to the three disciples who slept in Gethsemane; and to us as well (Matt. 26:41). Sadly, we often sleep even as we walk into the midst of temptations, all the while expecting the Lord to miraculously rescue us from spiritual harm. While praying for God’s assured protection and to use the available avenues of escape when temptations come, we must vigilantly watch for the enticements the evil one will set before us (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). God’s deliverance from temptation comes as we watch and pray, resist the allurements of the devil and refuse to sin against God.
25 Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. (Proverbs 6:25–26, NKJV)
Yielding to fleshly lust is a losing proposition. What appears so appealing and promising such satisfaction, invariably causes pain, sorrow, regret and loss. How many men have literally squandered a fortune on the fleeting fantasies of the flesh? The passion of lust promises pleasure but produces the spiritual bondage and death of sin. Many men and women have been led to the depths of disgrace and despair by its sordid appeal. Sin, whatever form it takes, is never a good deal. Today’s verse reminds us that even more than material poverty, lust bears fruit that brings a person spiritual shame and deprivation. Thanks be to God there is a Savior who lifts sinners out of the muck and mire of sin. Jesus Christ forgives sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)! Trust and obey Him; not the lusts of the world (1 Jno 2:15-17).