Sweet but Deceptive….

I worked in auto repair many years ago and it was quite common to have to replace water pumps and hoses, and perform other maintenance on vehicle cooling systems. Of course that meant having to drain the radiator and inevitably, a drop or two of anti-freeze would sometimes splash and hit me in the face and a little tiny drop always seemed to get on my lips somehow. When you’re laying under a vehicle, it’s going to happen.

Anti freeze, otherwise known as ethylene glycol has a very sweet taste. In fact it could be described as sickeningly sweet. If you work on your own vehicles at home like I do, you have to take great care to dispose of anti freeze right away after you drain your a radiator so that pets, or worse, so that small children don’t get into it and accidentally ingest it. It’s been known to happen. In spite of the sweet taste, ethylene glycol is a deadly poison that will destroy the liver in a very short period of time. It’s sweet, but it’s deceptive. In fact, it’s deadly.

In Proverbs chapter 5, the Bible warns us of the deceptive nature of a particular type of sin.

For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey,
and her mouth is smoother than oil.
But in the end she is as bitter as poison,
as dangerous as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.

Of course Solomon was warning men of the dangers of being lured by an adulterous woman, describing how the lure of the immoral woman may seem desirable, but the end result is death. This same principle can be applied in other areas of life. Take money and wealth for instance. God understands our need for money. Money in and of itself is not bad. But when we trust money more than we trust God, greed takes hold. And when greed begins to rule your life, it becomes like bitter poison, it becomes like that double edged sword. In 1 Timothy 6, there is a very familiar passage that warns of the consequences of greed: For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

Then there’s pride and ego. Most people like to be complimented. I think we all need the encouragement that comes from complimentary praise from time to time.  But again, praise and flattery can be seductive. The more you hear, the more you want to hear and bitterness sets in when we don’t get the praise we think we deserve. When the desire for praise begins to affect the motives behind our actions, it takes our focus off of Jesus and shifts it on ourselves. And that’s not where our focus is supposed to be. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of  their desire for flattery and praise from men. The flattery they so desired inflated their egos and gave birth to pride, and this is why the Bible warns against both flattery and pride. They go hand in hand.

Even anger can be appealing, and there are occasions when it might be justified. Jesus was angry when he drove the money changers and cattle traders out of the temple. But this is one area where we better be very, very careful. We may think our anger is justified when in reality, it is destroying our fellowship with God. More often than not, it controls us instead of the other way around. Paul quoted Psalm 4:4 when he wrote in Ephesians chapter 4: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Speaking of Psalm 4:4, the New Living Translation puts it this way: Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.

The list can go on and on. If it helps, think of all sin as being deceptive. It has the appearance of being sweet and desirable but in the end, it is a bitter poison that leads to death. Just like old anti-freeze, see it for what it really is, and get rid of it quickly.