In Greek Mythology, the Sirens were mysterious creatures that sang sweet and hypnotic songs from seaside cliffs. Their songs were so beautiful and alluring that Greek sailors, drawn to the melodies, drove their ships into the shallow, rocky waters and ultimately to their own destruction. The Greek hero Odysseus, upon sailing by the realm of the Sirens, ordered his men to stuff beeswax in their ears and have him, their captain, bound to the mast; the extreme measures led to the salvation of Odysseus’ ship and crew from the deadly song of the Sirens.
To what sorts of lengths are we willing to go in order to avoid spiritual destruction? Christ said that if any of our body parts or senses cause us to sin or lead us into sin, that such a member should be removed; if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, and if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out (Matt. 5:29,30). If being around certain people causes you to sin, don’t spend time with those people, even if you consider them good friends (I Cor. 15:33). If a certain TV show causes you to have lustful thoughts or encourages a desire to commit bodily sin, don’t watch the show (I Cor. 6:18). The wise in heart declares, “I will set no wickeder thing before my eyes” (Psa. 101:3), but these days we almost have to go to extremes to avoid sinful enticements which are found everywhere from sneaky online advertisements, to TV commercials, to billboards.
If an employer asks you to do something sinful for the good of the company, maybe you’ll have to quit that job, despite the good pay. In the movie Fireproof, a husband with an addiction to pornographic material on the internet destroyed his computer and replaced it with a bouquet of roses for his wife. Sometimes we have to go to extreme measures in order to avoid the inevitable death (Jas. 1:14,15) brought upon us by our own sin. Sometimes we have to stuff hot beeswax into our ears and have our physical bodies tied to the mast in order to resist the Siren song of sin, and avoid driving our souls into destruction.
But simply resisting something because we physically disallow ourselves to be exposed to it doesn’t necessarily remove the DESIRE from our hearts. Even when we’ve physically separated ourselves from sin, we sometimes know that, as soon as we have the opportunity, we will commit that sin again. Thus, it is the desire to sin with which we wrestle, and not the sights, sounds, and sensations that drive us toward sinful acts. Indeed, he who lusts after a woman, who desires to drink alcohol or indulge in other intoxicating substances, who desires to cheat, lie, and steal to advance himself professionally, who wishes harm on another, etc., all have committed sin even before he or she has committed to the physical action which manifests the sinful desires of the heart (Matt. 5:22-28). Seeing a sinful opportunity, hearing the sweet but deadly song of the Siren, may increase our desire to sin, but it is the desire in the heart that is condemned by the Lord.
Psalm 27 and verse 4 says, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.” Those who desire to please and serve the Lord out of the purity of a loving and sincere heart are beckoned by a song even sweeter than that of the deadly Sirens. God’s children should find themselves so engrossed in pursuing the call to salvation that they become oblivious to the call of sin and death (II Thess. 2:13,14). Eternal life, love, peace, service, and such things that are righteous and eternal in nature should be prevalent on our minds, such that there is no room in our being for sinful thoughts and desires.
Colossians 3, verses 1 and 2 declare that, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Consider how you spend your time in thought. Do you spend most of your time trying NOT to think about sin? Do you spend your time engaged in serious and difficult battles in your mind, trying to find some way to get past a sin without entertaining it? Certainly, there is a war going on, and we will find ourselves in epic battles against the ministers of Satan and all that in the world which tries to drag us into sin and destruction (Eph. 6:12), but how much easier those battles would be if we spent our time thinking about and committing to those things which please the Lord.
And, just as sinful sights and sounds can encourage us to take steps down the paths of destruction, there are just as many sights and sounds in the world that encourage us to take steps down the paths of righteousness. And we can CHOOSE! We can choose whether or not to study our bibles or go on random internet searches. We can choose to spend time with our family rather than play the video game. We can choose to read a book that encourages family values instead of watching the TV show that encourages wives to suspect their husbands of infidelity. The Lord has filled our world with wonderful sights and sounds that reflect His glory, and call us to higher thoughts, words, and actions. We can choose to think about that sin we don’t want to commit, or we can choose to mediate on those things which will bring us the “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:6-9).
The call of sin and death can be beautiful and alluring, but there is a sweeter song. Listen to the voice of the Lord. Desire to please and serve Him. Make room in your heart and mind for Him, and He will prepare a room for you in His everlasting kingdom.
– Jeremy Koontz