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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

On April 1st of 2001, Pastor John preached a sermon at Bethlehem Baptist Church on Romans 7. The message was titled, “The Importance of Knowing Our Sin.” If Paul argues that we need to know the power of sin, logically we ask the follow-up question: Does that mean that we need to experience sinning in order to become familiar with the power of sin? In that sermon in 2001, Pastor John answered the question in the negative, and he did so with a parable of resisting temptation. Here’s what he said:

Parable of Porn

Do not experiment with sin to get to know sin. There’s a better way. Let me use a parable to say it. What I am doing here is answering the question, “Don’t you have to be a sinner — I mean, do some sins — in order to get to know sin like you ought to know it?” Well, that’s not a problem.

“Do not experiment with sin to get to know sin. There’s a better way.”

Once there were three men, standing before a pit. The pit is the pit of lust. (I’m going to talk about men.) Tied around their waist is a cord, a one hundred pound-test cord. The cord goes into the pit. The pit looks very attractive, and it’s deadly. There are snakes at the bottom of the pit. It’s the pit of lust, the pit of pornography, the pit of internet nudity. It’s a click away. The first man begins to feel the rope, the cord, pulling him toward the pit, and he resists.

Ten pounds, fifteen pounds, twenty pounds. He digs in his heels.

Thirty pounds. He says, “No!”

Thirty-five pounds. It tightens up, he gives up resisting, jumps into the pit.

Click.

The second man begins to feel the cord pulling on him, around his waist.

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty pounds. He digs in his heels, resists. “No!” he says.

Forty, forty-five, fifty pounds. “No!” He leans back, it starts to tighten, makes his breathing more difficult.

Fifty, fifty-five pounds. “No!”

Sixty pounds. He quits resisting, jumps in.

Click.

“‘Don’t you need to sin more to know how sinful you really are?’ And the answer is, ‘No, you don’t.’”

The third man begins to be pulled.

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty-five, thirty pounds. He digs in his heels, resists. “No!” he says, out loud. “No!”

Forty, forty-five, fifty pounds. It starts to tighten, his breath is being cut off. “No!” He leans back, he cries out for help. “Help!”

He sees a branch, and grabs the branch. The branch is shaped like a cross.

Sixty-five, seventy pounds.

And off across the field — in his mind’s eye, as through a haze — he sees his wife going about her work, trusting him. Over on that side, he sees his children playing happily and, in their hearts, admiring him.

Then he lifts up his eyes to the horizon, and he sees Jesus with a big gash in his side, and his hands are lifted, and his fists are formed, and there’s a big smile on his face.

Eighty-five, ninety pounds, and the cord starts cutting into his side. “No!” And he looks up.

Ninety-five, one hundred pounds. Snap!

No click.

Resisting Means Shedding Blood

Now here’s my question: Which of these three men knows the power of sin? If this were a sermon on lust, I would lift up my voice at this point and scan this congregation and shout:

Are there any soldiers here? Anybody got blood on his shirt? Show me some scars before you talk about the power of sin. Don’t show me your broken ankles at the bottom of the pit. I want to see blood.

But it isn’t a sermon on lust, so I’ll skip that and go back to the point.

“You jumped at twenty-five pounds, and you don’t have a scar on your body.”

All I’m doing with that little parable is answering the question, “Don’t you need to sin more to know how sinful you really are?” And the answer is, “No, you don’t.” In fact, the wimps who give in at thirty and sixty pounds, they don’t know. They think they know. They call it “bondage.” They’ll even use words like “fall.” You’ll notice I did not use the word “fall.” I said “jump.” You didn’t fall, you jumped. You jumped at twenty-five pounds, and you don’t have a scar on your body.


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