How Sin Ruins Life, Not Just Religion
Sunday, April 15, 2007 -
We need to constantly re-emphasize the fact that the writers of Proverbs never had it in their heads to put together a collection of sayings to make up a part of a people’s religion. They were trying to tell people how to live. These were practical writers. We live in a world where people link the Bible with churches and seminaries. The writers of Proverbs were thinking of accountants, sheet-metal workers, stock-brokers, homemakers, lawyers and lovers.
Here are some life-lessons about sin from some of the wisest minds ever to live:
1) AS THE PASSING OF TIME WILL REVEAL, SIN NEVER INCREASES LIFE, BUT DIMINISHES IT - Proverbs 12:3 - “No one is established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will never be moved.”
Here is a warning about seeking short-term pleasure rather than long-term success. We are being called to look under the surface of life. Roots can only be established in any life through righteousness. The wicked (we know from Psalm one) are like chaff, driven by the wind.
2) THE BIBLE EXPOSES THE UNDERHANDED NATURE OF SINFUL PURSUITS AND WARNS OF A TIME OF OPEN, SUDDEN DESTRUCTION OF THE WICKED - Proverbs 6:12-15 - “A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,  winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger,  with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;  therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.”
Note the stern tone of those words. Sin creates “worthless persons”(12). Those words are meant to sound stern because, in the truest form of love, they are a warning against falling into an empty life.
Notice also the deceptive nature wickedness produces (13-14). Openness and honesty go out the window. We are turned into shiftless cowards. It puts people into hiding from God and the truth. This, contrasted with righteousness, creates great stress and expends great, wasted energy - Proverbs 28:1 - “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Also, if sin grows and deceives gradually, it will be exposed and punished dramatically - Proverbs 6:15 - “....therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.” This drastic judgement may take several forms:
a) God can remove His convicting, healing presence from a life - Romans 1:28 - “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
b) God can turn a deaf ear to their prayer for help and grace - Proverbs 15:29 - “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
c) Sinners will finally and completely be judged when Jesus comes again - Revelation 20:12-15 - “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
3) NOT ONLY DOES SIN CUT OFF TRUE LIFE, IT BLINDS THE SINNER TO THE SOURCE OF HIS OWN TROUBLE, WHILE IT BINDS HIM MORE TIGHTLY IN HIS SIN - Proverbs 4:19 - “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”
As people become deeper and deeper immersed in sin, they see less and less of their true problem. “I just don’t know what’s wrong with me!” is a frequent cry. See also Psalm 119:11 - “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
4) THE STAIN AND POWER OF SIN CANNOT BE REMOVED BY INCREASED ZEAL IN WORSHIP - Proverbs 21:27 - “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.”
These are words intended for the religious. Atheists don’t come to pray. And they address the particular danger religious people face. They are a warning to those who use their religious observances to persist in sin. They are addressed to people who are interested in God, but want to receive forgiveness of sin without forsaking sin. This is when religion angers God rather than pleases Him.
5) WE ARE NEVER TO ENVY THOSE WHO PERSIST IN THEIR SIN, EVEN IF THEY SEEM TO BE ENJOYING THE GOOD LIFE IN THIS WORLD - Proverbs 24:1-2 - “Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them,  for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.”
To envy sinners would be the supreme manifestation that we don’t value God over sin. This greatly smudges God’s glory in this world. This instruction is so needed because, without meaning to, we can be so inclined in our hearts toward the values and treasures of this fleeting, fallen word.
The source of this distorted thinking is analyzed best in Psalm 37:1-4 - “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!  For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.  Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
6) SIN CAN NEVER BE CLEANSED OUT OF OUR SYSTEM WHILE WE COVER IT UP -
Proverbs 28:13 - “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
The lessons here are: Don’t conceal. Confess. Forsake. Receive mercy.