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« Will Azusa Survive A Second Century? | Main | You Owe Me »

What Happens in Vegas

paris-las-vegas-14.3[1].jpgHave you heard about the woman who tried to dry off her poodle in the microwave? Or the deaf man and woman who were killed for signing hand signals of a rival gang? Or the scuba diver that drowned in a forest fire, or the baby left on the car roof? We call these tall tales urban legends. In addition, cultural myths circulate in our society…like the alligators found in the sewers of NYC; or college students have to wait 15 minutes if the professor is late for class; or you shouldn’t flash your bright lights at people because they will kill you. All pure mythology.

Here’s a myth that too many people believe: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. One would think that it is some sort of law. Bumper stickers even say, “WHiVSiV.” (It’s a line of clothing.) And then, I came across these Phil Vassar lyrics, “What happens in Vegas is just between us; Ain’t nobody’s business what anyone does; You can let down your hair, be as wild as you dare; Go crazy, do something outrageous; But what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” In fact, this phrase has been dubbed the most powerful advertising slogan of all time.

The insidious intent behind this phrase is that there are vacuums in which sin is free. It posits that there are actually “safe zones” that exist in which a person can sin and not be held accountable. But the Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23). Also, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7-8). Can you smoke in Vegas and have no cancer risk anywhere else? Can you murder in Vegas without penalty back home? Can you lie, cheat, steal, drink, gamble, or be unfaithful in Vegas with impunity? I think not. Life is interconnected. Sin one area of life causes repercussions in other areas. What happens in Vegas follows people home. But, there are other sinister lies that world believes as well.

My sin affects only me. No. Sin affects other people. Exodus 32:21. “And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?” The characters flaws and unrepented sins that were lodged in the heart of Aaron did not exist in a vacuum. Aware of it or not, his sins impacted Israel . Our actions find formulation within the confines of the heart. The tarnished heart, the misguided spirit and the corrupted soul shapes the message that proceeds from the mouth into destructive plans for others. Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” Matthew 15:18.

I can stop whenever I want to stop. No. Sin entraps. Moses predicted this unforeseen result of sin in Exodus 23:33. “They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Like the ancient Chinese finger trap, one may easily enter into the act of sin, but soon find that it is impossible to back out of it. One man found out that the sweet little clingy teenager who only needed the comfort of a strong male figure in her life turned into vicious, manipulative hustler once she had him in her clutches. Also, just as every coin has an obverse and reverse, every individual act of sin has two sides: Commit the sin; Cover the sin. The instant a sin is committed the flip side comes into play.

I can manage my weakness. No. Sin opens the door to other sins. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:23. How can rebellion possibly be related to witchcraft? How could iniquity ever share common ground with stubbornness and idolatry? Because all branches of sin grow from the same trunk. That’s why John the Baptist said, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees.” Matthew 3:10. The root of offense gives rise to many sinful branches. Saul did not conquer his initial disobedience; therefore, he experienced a chain reaction of repeated sin and tragedy in his life. David’s lust led to adultery; his adultery led to deceit; his deceit led to murder. Once the essence of sin gains admission into one’s life, it brings with it the seeds of further transgressions. James said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” James 3:16.

God will forgive me. Yes, if you repent and forsake your sin. Sin cannot go unpunished. “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree.” Deuteronomy 21:22. When we sweep sin under the rug, when we treat it differently from person to person or when we simply let it go unpunished, the sinning person gets a false view of God’s justice. We cannot afford to be dismissive, tolerant or defensive of sin. Without consequences, sin loses its dread. A diminished view of sin means a diminished view of Calvary . Ambivalence toward sin casts doubt on the efficacious blood of Jesus.

Operate your life out of truth, not mythology. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

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