by Nathan Allcorn
Have you ever been conned? No? Well, I have. For me, it was a box of cereal. I remember as a child begging my mother to buy a particular box of cereal that offered the flavor of chocolate chip cookies, only to be disappointed that the taste was unlike any chocolate chip cookie that I had ever eaten! For you, well maybe you just haven’t recognized it. It may have been slight of a magician’s hand or the sales person that convinced you that the extended warranty on the toaster was a good idea. Whether you lost a fortune or simply had buyer’s remorse – the point is we have all been duped by something or someone.
Still not convinced? Well, here is why I know this to be true. We are all sinners who sin. Sin is a con-artist that cheats, robs, and swindles us out of what is best. In the garden, Adam began to believe the lies of sin and ate of the fruit (Genesis 3). As a believer, you may think that you are immune to this deception because you realize the steep cost of sin and have trusted in the great price that Christ paid to ransom you from sin. Nevertheless, beware, because even as a believer – if not careful – you too can be strung along by this same con. Let me share with you how you can prepare yourself so that you do not succumb to this scheme.
1. Have confidence in Christ. Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
The con is a lie, and to sell this lie, the con-artist must first convince you, its “mark” to place your confidence in something other than God. As this con artist gets to know you, the con itself can take on many different looks. For you, this con may begin by simply convincing you to place your confidence in your own ability. In your home, you trust your own ability to control your thoughts, and you begin to allow sinful entertainment to pervade your attention. Maybe the con works through your career – providing comfort in the stability that your job offers. Potentially, all that needs to happen for this con to be pulled off is a seed of doubt to be planted. Have you been unsuccessful in battling sin because you don’t believe that real change can take place?
So what does confidence in Christ look like? Paul prays that the Philippians will grow in their knowledge and, in turn, will be guided by depths of insight into God’s Word (Phil 1:9). Confidence in Christ is patterned after knowledge of God’s Word and be characterized in two ways.
First, confidence in Christ will be characterized by discernment of what is best based on insight into God’s Word (Phil 1:10). Does this characterize you? Can it be said that your life is patterned in knowledge and characterize in confidence evidenced by your choices?
Second, confidence in Christ will be characterized by being filled with fruits of righteousness (Phil 1:11). Having confidence in Christ rather than your career might look like choosing to live rightly before God rather than gaining the approval of your boss. You may have to say “no” when he asks you to double bill a client or wait on paying an invoice until next period so that the numbers look better. Having confidence in Christ looks like believing that change can take place. Does your life show confidence in Christ through a life filled with righteousness? Do you work at producing the fruit of righteousness, knowing that if you produce righteousness, you have been changed – that you have been born of God (1 John 2:29). Whatever confidence trick sin tries to lure you into – there is no better confidence than Christ’s continued work of sanctification in your life!
2. Remember the treasure you have in Christ. Ephesians 1:18b . . . that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Once your confidence is found in something other than Christ, this con-artist has its grips in you and can sell you the lie that the rewards of sin have a higher value than the treasures you have in Christ. I am sure you would agree that it would be foolish of someone to give their bank account number to a Nigerian Prince that through an email requested to deposit funds and, in return, promised ten or even a thousand percent return. Yet, there have been people who have lost all their entire life savings on similar schemes.
Why would anyone risk what they already have, what they know is sure – for a promise that seems far too good to be true? The rewards that sin offers are similar to the promises of the Nigerian Prince. Why would you think that what sin offers is better than what you already have in Christ? As a believer, you have innumerable riches in Christ which is not even comparable to the rewards of sin! Sin promises temporary pleasure (1 Jn 2:17; Jas 1:14-15), but in Christ, you have unending joy (Ps 22:26, 1 Tm 6:17). The allure of the promise of sin might be that of position, approval, or power. However, the treasure of Christ is that you are blameless before Him as an adopted son and you are approved in Christ for His pleasure (Eph 1:3-6). Whatever reward sin offers pales in comparison to the riches that are secured in Christ (Eph 1:7-12).
So, again, have you ever been conned? My friend, if your answer is still “no,” it is with no great pleasure that I tell you this – you are currently being conned. But there is hope. Place your confidence in Christ and remember the treasure you have in Him.
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What is the greatest con you have believed regarding sin?
About the Author:
Nathan Allcorn is a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling student at Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. Nathan lives in St. Charles, Missouri. He serves as an intern at Grace Baptist Church also in St. Charles. He and his wife Stacey have four children.