We often hear people argue that they don’t need Jesus since they are fine just the way that they are. “I like the way my life is right now. I don’t see why I ought to change,” they say. Ah, the “benefits” of sin. Of course they don’t want to change, why trade all that sin has to offer for anything else? It is this great lie that so many people choose to believe, that everything is fine without Jesus and that they will be missing so much if they accept Him.
Somehow there is a delusion that things are permissible and easy without Jesus and strict and rigged with Him. That may be the common thought but in reality it is quite the opposite that ends up being true. Without Christ people are in bondage to sin yet see themselves as being totally free. They think that with Christ they will be bound by religious lists of do’s and don’t’s but the truth is that only in Christ that we are ever truly free.
It comes down to the benefits of a life with Christ or life without Him and which is most appealing. Paul asks a rhetorical question in Romans 6:21 that is worth trying to answer, “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” (Romans 6:21 NIV) He already put the final exclamation point on the answer for us. Paul declares that whatever else the benefits of a life of sin might be, the ultimate result is death and this is eternal death and complete separation from God the Father. But there are other things that sin gives us before death puts the final exclamation point on life.
1) Guilt – the feeling of remorse that comes when you have done something wrong. Here is a great benefit to sin. Everyone loves that deep ache in the pit of your stomach that comes when you know that you have done something wrong. The uneasy feeling of a conscience that is torn and consumed with thoughts of regret and sadness for behaviours we want nothing more than to wish away.
2) Shame – the feeling that there is something wrong with you. The benefit of shame takes our guilt and internalizes it, making us feel like not only were our actions wrong but that we are broken ourselves. Shame succeeds in lower our view of ourselves to the point that we no longer believe that we are worthy of anyone else’s attention or affection. Who wouldn’t want to experience this benefit of sin more?
3) Fear – the feeling that there will be unpleasant consequences for your actions. Another wonderful benefit of sin is that as guilt and shame settle in they then allow fear to take a hold of us. This deep sense of dread and the inability to rest or relax because we know that bad things are coming our way, can be ours if we choose the benefits of sin.
Of course I’m being facetious but I think that point is clear enough. When Paul asked what benefit we received from the things we did in sin, he meant for us to see that there is no benefit to sin at all that is worth wanting. In contrast, a life in Christ Jesus knows the benefits of having our guilt and shame removed. With Jesus we get to experience perfect love and we know that perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Ultimately the greatest benefit we could ever ask for is only found in Jesus and that of course is eternal life.
Which benefit package do you want to experience?