You have probably heard of the Greek myth of the Sirens, whose beautiful singing would lure sailors to shipwreck on the rocky coast. Wanting to enjoy the exquisite music without losing his ship and his life, Odysseus, (or Ulysses) blocked the sailors’ ears so they could not hear the enticing sounds and had himself tied to a mast so no matter how crazed he became he could not change the ship's course.
This ancient legend demonstrates the longing of sinful humanity since time immemorial to steal the pleasures of sin without reaping the devastating consequences. Being a myth, Odysseus escaped unharmed. In real life, he’d have kept coming back for more of the captivating music until something went horribly wrong. In reality, we always pay. It’s not if but when. What you sow, you’ll reap, promises Scripture.
Sin’s pleasure is the bait in Satan’s trap. If we agree with the Deceiver that the bait is desirable, he has almost won. Before long we’ll find ourselves circling the bait, savoring the sight and the aroma and wondering if we could gently lick it without setting off the trap. We’ll get away with this for a while and we’ll be more and more enticed by the bait until one day we go just that tiny bit further and suddenly the trap snaps around our neck.
If we love the bait, fearing the trap won’t protect us for long. We must see the bait and the trap – the pleasure and the horrific consequences of sin – as one unit, not as two elements that we can separate. We must view the pleasure with as much disgust as we view the evil consequences. Train yourself never to think of the pleasure without immediately focusing on the ugly, evil trap that is an inseparable part of the pleasure. For instance, whenever an image associated with your past addiction comes to mind, superimpose over the ‘bait’ an image of a giant fishhook poised to rip into your mouth and turn you into a writhing, captive fool. Then on top of both images see Christ on the cross, bloodied and agonizing because of that sin. Then see hell's maggots and flames. The aim is to turn the thought of sin into something distasteful – to see through the illusion to the real horror of the sin.
After pondering the matter carefully, make up your mind that for the entire remainder of your life you don’t want the tiniest speck of sin’s tainted pleasure. Then, when you are certain, tell God this is what you really want.
A friend of mine shares this testimony:
Even after I met the Lord in 1976, I continued to struggle with an addiction. I tried deliverance from evil spirits, inner healing, renunciation, self control, and anything else I could think of, but for 22 years I keeping struggling and losing. Because I continued to repent, ask forgiveness, and try everything I could think of to be set free, our Father in heaven continued to forgive, despite what I deserved.
I had been claiming the crucifying
power of the death of Jesus, and the renewing power of the resurrection
of Jesus – and I highly recommend this – but still there seemed a missing
element. I asked Jesus to show me the key. What follows is the key that set me free, but in the final analysis, the key is to ask Jesus for the keys.
The Lord told me that it was because I didn’t hate my sin. ‘You don’t
like it,’ he said, ‘but you don’t hate it.’ So I asked him to give me his hatred
for my sin. The next time I fell, the words, ‘I hate this!’ just burst from my lips in a combination of sorrow, anger and hatred. Then the impression came
that I needed to renounce the pleasures of sin. Wanting Scripture for that
thought, I searched my computer Bible. This is what I found:
The Lord told me that it was because I didn’t hate my sin. ‘You don’t like it,’ he said, ‘but you don’t hate it.’ So I asked him to give me his hatred for my sin. The next time I fell, the words, ‘I hate this!’ just burst from my lips in a combination of sorrow, anger and hatred. Then the impression came that I needed to renounce the pleasures of sin. Wanting Scripture for that thought, I searched my computer Bible. This is what I found:
Hebrew 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; (25) choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; (26) considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
[Through faith in God’s eternal reward Moses turned his back on ease and worldly honor, choosing to embrace hardship for the rest of his earthly life rather than ‘enjoy’ things that grieved God.]
2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, (2) but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame . . .
So I said, ‘Lord, please show me how to apply these verses to my life.’
He gave me the understanding that the pleasures of sin are the worms on the hook that the devil uses to lure us back into sin and captivity. By renouncing those pleasures, the hook is laid bare, and there is no incentive to bite that bare hook of temptation.
‘To renounce is to relinquish something formally and usually as a matter of principle,’ says the American Heritage Dictionary. As a lawyer I know that if a person renounces an inheritance he is saying, ‘I don’t want this inheritance that is left to me. I hereby relinquish my right to it. Leave it to whomever it goes to as if I were dead.’ Once a person signs his name to this decision there is no turning back. He will suffer that loss for the rest of his life. So to renounce the pleasures of sin I would be saying, ‘I don’t want the pleasures of sin in my life any more. Consider me dead to those pleasures, and let them go to someone who wants that inheritance.’
So I decided to make a solemn commitment to go through life without the slightest whiff of the pleasures that until then had meant so much to me. I make a formal declaration to my Lord, saying, ‘Lord Jesus, I renounce the pleasures of sin. I ask you to remove them completely from my life so that I will no longer do or think those things that grieve you.’
And you know what happened? He did!
I was freed from the compulsions that earlier ensnared me. That was seven years ago and I have not fallen back even once.
I am not free
to flaunt my freedom, but I am free to choose to please God in every decision.
He showed me that in my every decision I make, either the Father will look down
and say with approval, ‘That’s My boy!’ or the devil will mock God and
say, ‘Is that your boy?’ I never again want God to be mocked because of
I am not free to flaunt my freedom, but I am free to choose to please God in every decision. He showed me that in my every decision I make, either the Father will look down and say with approval, ‘That’s My boy!’ or the devil will mock God and say, ‘Is that your boy?’ I never again want God to be mocked because of me!
Not only did this renunciation of
sin’s pleasures free me from my addiction, it also transformed other parts
of my life which I thought were under control. And it enabled me to move
on from constantly battling the same temptation to battling the Lord’s
enemies. Once we are free from the pleasures of sin (which last only until
condemnation comes), we will be free to enjoy the pleasures which are at
the right hand of God (which last forever)! What a deal!