Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too often, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
There’s an underground cave south of , that has gained a certain amount of local notoriety. The only entrance, as far as I know, is a 50’ vertical shaft that drops straight down into the tube.
The Bureau of Land Management discourages exploration—no one knows exactly where the tube leads—but as I crept up to the edge of that black hole and looked down I had an almost irresistible urge to explore the cave! I would go a little way, I said to myself, and climb back out again. Surely no harm could befall me.
Sin is like that: It draws us into the darkness. How often have I listened to men and women who have destroyed their families, reputations and careers through adulterous affairs that began with a mild flirtation—one small step away from complete fidelity that led to another, thoughts and actions that inexorably drew the participants into deeper moral failure and eventual ruin. Looking back they almost always say, “I never thought it would come to this.”
We think we can temporize with sin, but that’s a fool’s dream. Children’s fantasy writer, Susan Cooper describes these dalliances as “channels into the dark,” the means by which the dark forces of the invisible world ride to power over us (The Dark is Rising). We know an action is wrong and yet we toy with it. Then inescapably, we are drawn into deeper and darker sin. Jesus put it simply: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin (becomes) a slave to sin” (John 6:34).
And so we pray with David, “Keep back your servant from presumptuous (deliberate) sins (however small); let them not have dominion over me (by giving in to them)! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13).