We as humans often make sinful choices because we wrongly value the temporary pleasures of sin. Scripture warns us against doing so through both negative examples and positive examples.
1. Adam and Eve
In spite of their knowing the penalty that they would receive, Adam and Eve violated God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). They did so because they valued the immediate pleasures that would be theirs more than their having a right relationship with God (Gen. 3:6).
As Satan did to Eve, he continually seeks to beguile us “through his subtlety, so [that our] minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The disastrous choice of Adam and Eve and its horrific consequences warn us all against wrongly valuing the temporary pleasures of sin at the expense of our pleasing God.
Amnon had a perverse desire to be immoral with his half-sister (2 Sam. 13:1-2). Seeking the temporary pleasures that immorality would bring him, he forced himself upon her (2 Sam. 13:8-14).
As soon as his wicked desire for immediate sensual pleasure had been fulfilled, his “love” for her turned into hatred (2 Sam. 13:15). Through his wicked actions, he not only defiled her (2 Sam. 13:16; 19-20) but also brought ultimate ruin upon himself (2 Sam. 13:22-29; 32).
Potiphar’s wife repeatedly attempted to seduce Joseph into enjoying the temporary pleasures that committing adultery would bring him (Gen. 39:7; 10-12a), but Joseph steadfastly refused her wicked attempts (Gen. 39:8-10; 12b). Joseph testified that he valued his relationship with God more than the short-lived sinful pleasures that she was offering him (Gen. 39:9).
For his refusal to choose to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, Joseph suffered greatly (Gen. 39:20).
The writer of Hebrews extols Moses for making the right choice to refuse the temporary pleasures of sin:
Heb 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Like Joseph before him, Moses suffered affliction for making the right choice not “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Moreover, like Joseph, Moses’ right choice stemmed from his valuing his relationship with God more than any pleasures sinful choices would bring him (Heb. 11:26).
For forty days, Satan personally assaulted Jesus with numerous temptations (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2), including the prospect of His immediately enjoying having power over all the kingdoms of the world and having all their glory as His (Matt. 4:8-9; Luke 4:5-6). Jesus rebuked the devil and refused his offer (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8).
Like Joseph and Moses, Jesus suffered greatly in His lifetime for refusing the temporary sinful pleasures that Satan offered Him (cf. Heb. 12:2). Furthermore, like Joseph and Moses, Jesus chose suffering rather than enjoying such sinful pleasures because He valued His relationship with God more than anything else (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8).
From both the negative and the positive examples that we have in Scripture of those who made choices concerning enjoying the temporary pleasures of sin versus valuing a right relationship with God more than such pleasures, we should beware making sinful choices because we wrongly value the temporary pleasures of sin. We should also be prepared to suffer for choosing to refuse such pleasures.
Through Jesus’ victory over all such temptations, we who are united with Him can be victorious over similar temptations to choose the temporary pleasures of sinful actions. Jesus is fully willing and able to grant us all the grace and mercy that we need in such times (Heb. 4:15-16) so that we will supremely value our relationship with God and not sin against Him by choosing “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”!
Let us beware the temporary pleasures of sin!