Are You Living On The Edge?

By Tim Greenwood

Back a number of years ago we took a trip to the Grand Canyon.  When we were there on the South Rim, they had tried as much as possible to keep everything looking natural.  (i.e. there are no fences, or walls to keep you from killing yourself.)  The only barriers that there were very easy to climb over or in many cases to step over.  Now there were signs everywhere warning you to stay safely behind these barriers.  The signs told how several people every year fall to their deaths over the edge of the mile deep canyon. There are earthquakes, strong gusts of wind, eroding earth and rocks and all kinds of hazards - but people being people, there were always still a few that you'd see out peering over the edge or standing with their toes dangling over the abyss. 

At one place there was a column like rock formation about five feet across and ten feet deep with its flat top level with the viewing area.  But this column was separated from the viewing area by chasm about five or six feet across and with a drop on the shallowest side of about 150 feet and then angling down to maybe a quarter mile.  Tourists for years had been throwing coins out on it, sort of like a wishing well, and from the looks of it there had to be several hundred dollars in coins out there. 

Well there's always some idiot that actually thinks that he or she is invincible. And sure enough, this guy got way back, ran and was able to leap out onto the column.  His feet did slide on the coins causing him to bounce on his rear-end, but that didn't slow him down from pulling a burlap sack out of his pocket, un rolling it and stuffing it full of (I presume, the silver) coins.  When the bag was as full as he could get it and still tie it off it was evidently too heavy to throw over to the other side.  Evidently, he saw a Park Ranger's vehicle coming down the road.  So rather than dump out some of the coins, he put it under his arm like a football went all the way to the back edge of the column and took off running towards the front edge. 

Well, needless to say, with the added twenty to thirty pounds of coins weighing him down he didn't even come close to making it across that deep chasm.  Accompanied by the screams of the onlookers, both he and the coins went over the edge and were gone forever. 

But, the next day - there were still a few people out balancing precariously along the very edge of the canyon.

Now as Christians, what lessons might we learn form this story.

Personally, I think that there should have been an eleventh commandment:
"Thou shall not be STUPID!"  But, in a way that's what the other "ten" are saying too!

In the case of the young man that fell to his death, he was obviously tempted to sin by the attraction of stealing those coins that belonged to Parks Department.  Now stealing is a sin just as lust is a sin.  In this case the lust of money.  But, is the temptation a sin?  Is the attraction a sin?

No!  The scriptures tell us that Jesus never sinned.  And, if you remember, Jesus on the mount of 'temptation' was 'tempted' forty days!  The primary methods of His temptation was lust - 'lust of the eyes' and the 'lust of the flesh.'  Jesus fasted for the whole forty days and was very hungry.  So first the devil came near the end of the fast and showed Him rocks that resembled loafs of bread and then tried to incite pride and vanity by pressuring Him to "be God" and turn the stones into real bread and eat!  He was hungry!  I'm sure that what the devil proposed was attractive to Jesus.  Scripture tells us that Jesus was genuinely tempted! But He refused to act upon that attraction.  When that temptation failed, the devil just kept upping the ante.

What is it that you tempted by?  What illicit things are you attracted to?  Are you living on the edge?

Again it isn't the temptation or even the illicit attraction that is sin.  It is the ACTING upon the temptation or illicit attraction that causes sin.  And, hey - sin IS often attractive!  Even if the results of sin is NOT attractive, the devil sees to it that the sin itself at least seems attractive.

James 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
James 1:14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
James 1:15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Most of you have heard me say, "Life is a series of decisions."  Thousands of times every day we make decision after decision, - some good and some bad.  Should I turn left or turn right?  Should I get a jelly donut or a cream-filled donut?  Should I say this or say that?  Should I do what God's word says or should I do what my flesh says?  Whoa!  Now that last one just crossed a line.  That last one just crossed a barrier with a sign on it saying, "Stay away from the edge!" 

You see, some decisions, don't really matter that much.  On the other hand, upon some decisions hang life and death.

Deu 30:19  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Oh. But Tim, you don't understand!  The temptation is too great!  The attraction is too much!  It's an addiction!  It's a compulsion!  It's... who I am!  I've GOT TO HAVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No you DON'T!

When I was so sick with terminal heart disease, they were sure that I was going to die, so the doctors gave me all kinds of addictive drugs - particularly morphine and codeine  - and a lot of it!  I understand addictions, I understand withdrawals, I understand feeling like you're going to die without it and I understand that it may be HARD to overcome!

But it doesn't matter what it is!  Sinful temptation of drugs; alcohol; money; power; sex or whatever… It doesn't matter what it is!  It doesn't matter how HARD it seems!  God has already provided you a way of escape.  (And by escape I don't mean suicide! That's the devil again.)

1 Cor 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Are you living on the edge?  Some of you reading this, have hidden areas of your life where you are living, existing, spending your time - right on the edge.  The barriers have become almost meaningless.  The warning signs have just become something to ignore.  Some of you - are standing on the tiptoes of one foot and are leaning over the edge to see just how far you can go before you fall.

Some of you - have already fallen - repeatedly! And God has spared you - saved your rear-end over and over!  And YOU have taken this intervention of His mercy and love as His tacit approval of your sinful behavior.  Some of you have lived like this so long that you may not even think twice about what God expects of you in this area of your life!  You step right over the barrier, walk right up to the brink and willingly and repeatedly dive over the edge into your hidden sin. 

Sure you feel guilt and shame after you act upon the temptation.  But it's not from God!  Guilt and shame is just part of the package deal that the devil provides with the commission of sin.  Hopefully, you have learned that when you sin - to run TO God and not FROM God and to quickly ask for His forgiveness.  When you do - God will pick you up, dust you off and set you up on your feet again!  BUT - "Go and sin NO MORE!"

John the eighth chapter describes how Jesus deals with sin.  In this case it was a legally witnessed, sexual sin that carried a death sentence.  In love and mercy, Jesus both forgave the sinful act and commuted this death sentence on the CONDITION that - she "Go and sin no more!" (John 8: 3-11)  This passage also teaches that 'hidden sin' will never remain - hidden. (Num 32:23): …[you can] be sure your sin will find you out.

Are you living on the edge?
There are barriers, guardrails, signs and warnings in the Word of God to keep you safe, whole and happy in your life as a Christian.  Learn what they are, where they are and what they mean.  If you come upon one, don't cross it, don't lean over it, don't sit on it, don't even touch it!  I advise you not to even give what is over beyond it a second look!
EVERYTHING that God has for you is far better than ANYTHING that the devil has for you.

Now if the above doesn't apply to you just understand that it is sometimes necessary to 'preach to the whole congregation' just to reprove, rebuke and exhort the few that need this.  And - whether this applies to you or not - know that I minister it only in my love for you and only in my desire that you become whole and sound before our Lord Jesus Christ.