Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Invisible consequences

Sin can go on for a lifetime and not seem to have any consequences, as I mentioned in my previous post. This is one of the dangers of sin. It masks itself as something that is "ok to continue." Only when the sin causes us some kind of pain, mental or physical, do we wonder what could possibly be wrong.

From my psych classes I learned that, in training an animal, the synchronicity of events matters. When you place a reward directly after a desired action, along with a neutral stimulus, eventually the desired action will occur in the presence of only the neutral stimulus. The famous example of this being Pavlov's dogs. Further studies were done and it was discovered that animals learn best only if the reward and the desired action are paired within a few moments of each other. With each successive moment away from that action, the animal has trouble associating the two. It's the same with us.

Until our actions result in a negative consequence we'll just go on glibly without remorse for them. Our conscience may get piqued, or our spirit may hear from God, but more often than not we ignore those warning signs. With each successive action without a consequence it becomes easier to justify, and easier to ignore the warnings. For example, I know that I need to go to bed early or I'll wake up tired. In fact I did this last night. I went to bed at 1:00am and had a real tough time waking up at 7:00. The consequence is so far apart from the action, and the justifications are so strong I have a real hard time associating the two, at least enough to take action.

Sin in some forms continues for years without a consequence. Michael Bahey, the man who founded Porn Nation (an organization to raise awareness of the dangers of pornography), didn't experience any extremely adverse consequences for over 10 years. He was married, had children and a great job. But then his addiction to pornography led subtly into an affair, which led to a divorce, which led to losing his family and job. He's an extreme case but there are other dangers that sin can easily manifest after years of no consequences.

So that's why I need to realize that I've been given a memory, an advanced mental capacity (in comparison to animals) and a consciousness in order to connect disparate events. I have also been given warnings, in the form of people like my parents, the form of words from the bible, and of examples in my own personal life. I can take action and change the things in my life, in the strength of Jesus redemptive power, to avoid the sufferings that come as a consequence of prolonged sin.

Without using those gifts that were graced upon us we won't learn without suffering. Not to say that suffering isn't going to happen if we don't sin, but much unnecessary suffering can be avoided by connecting events and heeding warnings.

So heed the rebukes you receive, listen to the warnings you hear, notice the examples around you, and learn from the previous consequences you have suffered. For just because you don't feel any pain now, doesn't mean you won't in the future. However, don't worry about these things as if they were all life and death, God will be faithful to put his finger on them in your life. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you allow him to search you and know your anxious thoughts.

1 comment:

cdbressoud said...

Excellent post. I notice sin creeping in when there is a lifelessness to me. The Holy Spirit works in Christians to help us recognize this lifelessness. So, there is hope that when we are sinning the Holy Spirit will come in and make us aware of it. But, ultimately it is our choice to ask for the victory over the sin or keep on sinning.