“Lose up to ten pounds the first week! No dieting! No exercise! Eat what you like. One pill a day will give you the body you have always dreamed of!”
It’s sad how many people believe those ads. But it is understandable too. No one wants to change his lifestyle. No one wants to go hungry and sweat. Everyone wants to eat the good stuff and take a magic pill to cure their obesity.
I know a few people who have that problem with sin too. They don’t want to change their lives. They don’t want to admit they even need to change. They certainly don’t want to make the effort in study, prayer, self-examination, and true repentance. They think they have the “magic pill,” and here is what it is.
I can go merrily along if I remember to pray for forgiveness every night, especially for my “secret sins.”
I can live my life as I wish as long as I show up Sunday morning and take the Lord’s Supper.
I can even play at repentance by talking about my imperfections and making statements like, “I know I am a sinner,” so no one can quote 1 John 1:8 at me.
I have seen it too many times over the years. I have even done it myself. I know I am not perfect so a quick prayer for forgiveness every day should take care of the problem. Far be it from me to actually admit anything specific and work on it. Have you noticed this about people like that? Sooner or later they make a statement like this, “If I’ve sinned, I’m sorry.” They’ve taken yet another diet pill and expect a 15 pound loss of sin in one short minute.
The real weight loss programs out there are all about accountability. You show up, you weigh in, you talk about exactly what you have eaten and not eaten, and how much exercise you have or have not had. Those people tend to lose the weight and keep it off longer. They understand that this is a lifestyle change, not a magic pill. And they take responsibility for their actions, both good and bad.
That’s exactly the way overcoming sin works. “Confess your faults one to another,” James tells us, “and pray for one another” (5:16) Everyone participates and everyone helps.
“Bring forth fruit worthy of repentance,” John told the masses (Matt 3:8). A quick little prayer or a ritual offering was only the beginning of a lifestyle change that was supposed to be obvious to everyone from then on.
I’ve heard brethren criticize the Catholic religion as one of convenience. “You can live as you like as long as you confess every week and do penance.” Some of us don’t even want to do that much. Confession is humiliating. Doing penance is hard work. It’s far easier to pray for forgiveness every night and show up every Sunday for those few magic bites. Don’t tell me we aren’t as bad they are—we’re worse!
Satan is the one who puts out those ads for sin’s magic pills. Don’t be a “patsy.” No one is sure where the term came from. Some suggest it is from the Italian word pazzo. Do you know what that word means? “Fool.” Sounds to me like the perfect word.
For godly sorrow works repentance unto salvation, a repentance which brings no regret: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold, this selfsame thing, that you were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything you approved yourselves to be pure in the matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.