Is the Attractiveness of Sin Enticing You Right Now?
My husband and I had the opportunity to visit the South Island of New Zealand recently, and one of the first things we noticed as we traveled around the stunning countryside was a beautiful, yellow-flowering plant. And it's everywhere. Its official name is Cytisus scoparius, and it is commonly called broom, Scotch broom, or English broom. We went on an all-day bike ride and even took some photos of the yellow flowers along the trail.
A few days later, we took a guided bus/boat trip to magnificent Milford Sound, and the bus driver shared a lot of interesting details about the non-indigenous plants and animals that were brought to the islands by humans. We learned that the broom plant was actually brought in from England to help settlers make hedges as there were no indigenous trees on the islands, and people needed a way to make fences without lumber. We also learned that the only mammals that inhabited New Zealand before humans arrived were bats. Thus, New Zealand had a lot of birds, but no trees or other mammals besides bats.
Invasive species are wreaking havoc on the natural habitat of New Zealand.
The guide also informed us that the yellow flowers my husband and I had previously admired are actually a serious problem for New Zealand. Broom is an invasive species that is choking out the native plant life of the islands and affecting the livestock industry and new tree plantings for forestry. It is causing immense destruction to the natural habitat, which the country is seeking to mitigate through various means.
We also discovered that plants weren’t the only invasive species brought to the islands. Over the years people also imported animals for their fur that weren’t native to the land, such as rabbits and possums, and rats found their way from boats onto land as well. Settlers even populated the islands with an animal called the stoat in order to keep down the rabbit population when it got out of hand.
And what happened from all these well-meaning attempts to make life better in New Zealand by introducing non-native animals? The stoats (singled out by the tour guide as an especially destructive bird predator), rats, cats, weasels, possums, ferrets, and even dogs have been killing off many of the native birds of New Zealand, including the endangered flightless Kiwi.
According to a 1997 New Zealand Ministry of Environment report, over 40 of the endemic bird species have become extinct during the period of human settlement up to 1994. Thankfully, the country is fighting hard to control the invasive species and build up bird populations with New Zealand’s successful Department of Conservation Battle for our Birds national predator control program, which includes the use of traps and pesticides. New Zealand also has the Predator Free 2050 initiative, which is exploring various research strategies to eradicate stoats, rats, and possums from the islands by 2050.
What seemingly beautiful object is actually causing harm in your life right now?
After listening to the tour guide speak about the environmental issues New Zealand is facing, I gazed out the window from my seat on the bus and all the yellow flowers from the broom plants didn't look so beautiful to me anymore. They were destroying the local vegetation that was supposed to be there and taking over acreage at a rate that has been extremely challenging to control. It made me take a step further to consider how we do this kind of damage to ourselves and others when we are lured by our desires to sin.
We may pursue people and things that seem attractive or beneficial in some way at the start, downplaying in our minds and hearts the potential for harm and justifying our actions for one reason or another. It’s so easy to think, “This person is going to fulfill me in a way I have always needed,” only to later realize that your marriage and family are severely damaged—maybe beyond repair.
Perhaps you aren’t married but are causing harm to someone else’s marriage. Now the person you thought would make you happy doesn’t look so beautiful or desirable anymore because of the ugliness and havoc they have brought into your life—and the lives of the people connected to you.
Or maybe it's a substance—a drug you're taking or a drink or food you’re consuming that seemed comforting early on; but it's destroying you and you’re struggling to function without it. Your family and friends have to watch you do harm to yourself and may even leave because they can’t bear to see it anymore.
Or it could be that you have taken something good such as honorable work to provide for your family and made it into an idol. You may have even compromised your values along the way to be successful, but you have invested so much into the endeavor that you don’t feel you can turn back or quit. You started out with good intentions, but now you find yourself disobeying God’s commands and justifying your sin because the end goal is a worthy one.
Adam allowed the serpent to be in the garden, when he should have driven it out.
In the first major story of the Bible after creation, God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to take care of it (Gen. 2:15-17). They were God’s royal image-bearers, in charge of caring for the garden and keeping it safe. But a predator, the serpent, came into the garden and tempted Adam and Eve to sin against their Creator. Instead of driving the evil serpent out, they listened to the lie that they could be like God if only they ate the fruit from the one tree that God had forbidden them to eat (Gen. 3:1-6).
Everything God had given Adam and Eve—being created in true knowledge, righteousness and holiness, having direct fellowship with their Creator, and being in charge of his amazing creation—wasn’t enough. They wanted more.
Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, and they allowed an enemy into God’s garden that cared nothing for all that is good, true, and righteous. We see the consequences of Adam’s disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, not only in this cursed world, but also the guilt and sin nature we all have as descendants from Adam (Gen. 3:7-19).
While New Zealand hopes to eradicate several of the invasive predator species on their islands by mid-century, we can at best contain evil in this fallen world by God’s common grace. It is only the redemptive work of Christ that will eventually remove evil, sin, suffering, and death from this world forever at the consummation.
Do you need to drive something sinful out of your life?
The people and things we allow into our lives can be tremendous blessings on one end of the spectrum—to horrible disrupters on the other end. We need much wisdom as we navigate the complexities of life and make decisions along the way.
Is there something you have invited into your life that you know doesn’t belong there—something that God’s word says clearly you should drive out? Maybe it’s not in your life now, but you are considering allowing it in and are somehow justifying it in your mind and heart. In the book of James, we are warned about the danger of letting our desires lead us away from God’s will into sin:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)
In whatever situation you find yourself right now that is not glorifying to God, please remember that your Savior’s love is bigger than your sin. If you are in Christ, you can rest in the fact that Jesus died on the cross for every transgression you have ever committed or ever will commit. Yet, God has also called you to live a holy life, striving to honor him in all things.
Believers should never be okay with sin but rather need to turn away from it with repentant hearts, walking in the newness of life they have been given by God’s grace through the perfect work and sacrifice of their Lord Jesus Christ:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:1-3)
Resist the devil, firm in your faith.
We can learn from the examples God gives us in the physical world, as well as his revelation in the Bible. Our actions can have short and long-term consequences that we can’t easily see, just as the people who brought invasive species to New Zealand didn’t foresee the future havoc that would result from introducing certain non-indigenous plants and animals to the islands.
As believers, we are called to honor our Lord, our families, the body of Christ, and ourselves. The Bible warns us that Satan seeks to destroy us. Don’t believe the lies of the evil one; believe God instead. Cling to your Savior, be in God’s word daily, attend church faithfully, seek godly counsel, grow in wisdom, and always pray to your heavenly Father to give you the strength to withstand temptation, for he has promised to deliver his saints:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 5:8-11)
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