Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! – Psalm 141:4 ESV
When we think about sin, we often immediately have an image that includes dire and negative consequences. Sometimes, we even have an overgeneralized image of sinners in our mind that they are blind and unable to see the negativity of their choices. There is something else to consider about sin, however: it has its own kind of sweetness. A deadly sweetness, but it must have something to pull you in. Temptation only exists when there’s something that you think is worth having at the expense of obedience.
After we’re sucked in and pulled down into a full rebellion against the Lord, there is very little sweetness left in sin. The eternal consequence of sin is even worse. It means eternal separation from God, cast of in place where there’s wailing and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28). There will absolutely no joy or sweetness in sin then.
On this earth, however, we need to acknowledge that temptation exists because of something that we desire; something that is looking good to us, even though we know we shouldn’t have it. In Psalm 141:4 David acknowledges this in his prayer. Referring to men who work iniquity, David says, “let me not eat of their delicacies.”
In a poor, agrarian society (meaning most people would be farmers on small farms), foods made with rich food would have been a treat of the fortunate and rich. Often when we see people living in the results of sin, they often have a good life. They have money or fancy things. Maybe they get the vacation that you’ve always dreamed of. Maybe it’s something as simple as wishing your life was more fun. It’s easy in that moment to wish you could eat of their food, to have the perks of their lifestyle.
Stepping away from this type of temptation (and we all face it, don’t think we don’t!) is more challenging than it might seem. In the heat of the moment, when we are faced with the choice of going for what we want at the cost of our conscious, we have to remember David’s prayer. Walking in a healthy, close relationship with the Lord is worth all the treasures and adventures of a lifetime. As the psalmist says, “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10).
As we think about areas in our hearts and mind that we’re struggling with some temptation or sin, this verse can also give us hope. Ask yourself, what is the benefit that I think I’m getting from this sin? Why do you keep going back to something that you feel maybe isn’t the best for you? Then, take that to the Lord and talk to Him about it. Say, “Lord, I want this and I feel like I’m getting it in a way that doesn’t honor you. Please help to see how to adjust my emotions or my choices to find a way to fill this need in Your power and Your love.” This is a wonderful step toward the freedom of Christ because you’re not beating yourself up over it or trying to make yourself stop in your own strength. Instead, you’re allowing the power of the Lord in you to start facing things that need to be faced and find healing and strength where it’s needed. (Note, I say healing because many of these temptations are born of something that we feel is lacking, empty or hurt. When we let the Lord start healing broken places in our hearts, many temptations start to lessen their hold on us.)
When we are facing this, here are three verses that we can whisper to ourselves to help remind us that God is a good, giving Father who knows the desires of your heart and wants to bless you (Psalm 37:4). When we choose to accept His blessing in His time, He can bless over and over. Choosing to take our desires in our own, sinful way keeps His loving arms away (Jeremiah 5:25).
- Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:1-4 ESV
- Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. – Mark 10:29-30 ESV
- Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. – Psalm 1:1-3 ESV