The movie, “Moneyball” is based on the book by the same title authored by Michael Lewis. It stars Brad Pitt and it tells the story of the manager of the Oakland A’s who, at one point, deployed a strategy when it came to recruiting new employers that represented a dramatic departure from convention. Instead of going after big ticket all-stars, they focused instead on players that could consistently get on base. Not home run hitters, just solid and consistent ball players that could get on first every time they got up to bat.
The result was amazingly successful.
That year the A’s turned in a winning season and were able to do it at a fraction of the cost that comparable teams were paying for a roster that was supposedly more talented.
A Snake and a Lion
Satan is described in Scripture as both a snake (Rev 12:9) and a lion (1 Pet 5:8). Put those two illustrations together and you have something that is as vicious as it is subtle. He’s not posing as a home run hitter. Rather, he’s just trying to get on first. And what happens over time is he keeps advancing runners and before you know it, he’s putting points on the board and you’re up to your neck in the kind of sin you never thought possible.
Satan doesn’t just pounce, he prowls. He doesn’t necessarily need to hit a homerun, he just needs to get someone on base. From that standpoint, sin is not a singular situation or a specific boundary. It’s a comprehensive strategy designed to reduce wrongdoing to nothing more than a subjective collection of do’s and don’ts, which can be easily adjusted to suit a person’s need to justify themselves depending on the situation (Rom 10:3).
Do you see where this is going?
The Bible defines sin as death. You see that in Ephesians (Eph 2:1), you also see it in the way God set up the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as something that would result in both Adam and Eve dying if they were to cross that line (Gen 2:17).
This is what put Christ on the cross and what lands us in hell apart from God’s Grace.
Bear in mind, that even seemingly trival transgressions require you to go up to God as He’s sitting on His Throne and telling Him to get out of your chair.
It’s not just the sin itself, as far as the physical consequences you may have to contend with, it’s Who you’re sinning against that makes it so heinous (2 Sam 12:13; Ps 51:4).
But we like to minimize the significance of sin by categorizing our transgressions according to the severity of the offense from a human perspective. In addition, we write off sinful compromises as nominal improprieties by dismissing any criticisms as coming from an overly conservative or legalistic mindset.
No doubt, you can take things to the extreme and read something evil into just about anything. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”
But the possibility of being legalistic shouldn’t be used as an excuse to intentionally walk every batter until the bases are loaded before you get serious about striking out the next hitter.
Make No Provision
And here’s the thing…
It’s not just about being “careful” or “sensitive” as much as it’s about being obedient.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom 13:14 [Col 3:5; 1 Pet 2:11])
Being “tempted” isn’t a sin. Jesus was tempted and didn’t sin (Heb 4:15). But you’re not playing to win when you’re making it easier on yourself to fail. That’s what you’re doing when you’re giving a bad idea an opportunity to become more than just a dirty little concept.
This is part of what Christ meant when he talked about committing adultery in your heart (Matt 5:28). He’s using the same word for “heart” that Paul uses in the book of Romans when he explains how to get saved, by believing in your “heart. (Rom 10:9-10)” When your disposition towards something is rooted in that place that serves as the seat for the way you see yourself and the world around you, you’re no longer just thinking about it, you’re acting on it.
You may have yet to cross “the” line, but you’ve already crossed “a” line by showing contempt for the standard that’s in place and the One Who established it (Jas 4:4).
So, where does this land? How do you approach your situation with a genuinely holy resolve to be obedient, given the fact that perhaps it looks a little suspicious?
We’ll take a look at the answer to that question in Part II!