When Sin is Like Saccharin

by Joseph Franks

When Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, it tasted fantastic going down. However, even if it did not do so in her palate, it surely left a bitter taste in her soul. That which was pleasant for a moment left her with terrible spiritual indigestion at the end of that horrible day.

Consider Esau and his stew. The soup was fascinating to the eyes, enticing to the nose, and fantastically smooth going down. However, when he later considered the price paid for his dinner, he surely struggled with buyer’s remorse.

The same could be said of Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:

Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (2 Samuel 13:1-4)

Tamar appeared to be obedient, compassionate, trusting, righteous, chaste, and beautiful. As a member of the royal court, she must have been well-fed, well-dressed, and well-groomed. Perhaps one’s thoughts turn towards an ancient Palestinian version of Kate Middleton. Amnon wanted her desperately. Some might call it passion. He called it love. However, it was really raging lust and self-centered covetousness which was all consuming and out of control. He loved himself and his loins and not this precious young lady.

Therefore, in the course of time, Amnon followed his own lusts and the diabolical counsel of his friends. He assaulted Tamar and had his way with this girl. He was satisfied; he was pleased; for the time being.

However, when his moment of excitement came to an end, bitter was the taste that remained:

Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” … He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” … So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. (2 Samuel 13:15-17)

Amnon was neither satisfied nor happy. He had partaken of the Turkish Delight, and it did not ultimately agree with him.

This cycle of unfulfillment can be seen in the chronicles of Solomon. In Ecclesiastes the king seeks lasting comfort from money, servants, buildings, sex, food, drink, fame, and learning. Initial benefit comes from all of these things, but a dissatisfying taste remains the next day.

One only has to read the story of the Prodigal Son to be reminded of the temporary fun of sin. Oh, he has his exciting days as a rich young playboy in South Beach, but soon he is languishing in hopelessness in Little Haiti.

Similar is the response of Judas. Following his betrayal of Jesus, he is found richer in silver but poorer in spirit. Caiaphas’ new hero finds himself a zero, and he is filled with remorse and regret.

And such is the promised end of all who sup with sin. Hebrews tells us that sin is pleasurable for a season. (11:25) Paul and James tells us that the end of sin is death, and countless are the examples of this found in life, in history, and in the Word of God.

Therefore friends, what sins are calling our name today? Can we not learn from the experience of others that God’s way is best? Can we not learn from our own history that sin never satisfies? Shouldn’t we open the Scripture, read the sacred text, and realize that sin is like Saccharin. It has an initial sweet taste that satisfies the palate, but leaves a very odd and dissatisfying after-taste to all who have tasted the “Real Thing.”

Christ has come to give us life, and to give us life that is abundant. No good thing does he withhold from those who love him. He is the way, the truth and the life. Blessed are those who walk not according to the counsel of the ungodly. He loves us. His ways are best. Satisfaction and contentment come not from submitting to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, but from trusting in Christ as Savior and walking behind Christ as Lord.

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