Some parents had a great idea for their children’s special Christmas gift one year. They ordered a kit for a tree house from a mail order catalogue. On Christmas Eve, as the mother and father began to assemble the pieces, they discovered to their dismay that while they had received the plans for a tree house, they had been sent the materials for a sailboat. A letter of complaint to the company brought this apologetic reply: “While we regret the inconvenience this mistake must have caused you, it is nothing compared to that of the man who is out on a lake somewhere trying to sail your tree house.”
Some times you wonder just what someone was thinking — how can a tree house be confused with a sailboat?
Sometimes you wonder also just what happens to someone who becomes spiritually confused — exchanging the truth of God’s righteousness and blessing for the lie of sin. In the first verse of the first Psalm we find three answers to that question.
“How blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”
(Psalm 1:1; NASB)
How does one become spiritually confused and how does one end up engaging in a lifelong pattern of sin?
First, he accepts the philosophy of the world as truth. And making that [false] assumption, he accepts ungodly counsel. Though the fundamental mindset of a wicked and worldly person (i.e., and unbeliever) is incapable of providing life-giving counsel, he believes it and follows it anyway.
Then he not only listens to the advice of the ungodly, but he also begins to take a sinner’s stand on spiritual and moral issues. No longer an impediment to the progress of evil, he begins to flaunt and tout it.
And finally, he not only expounds the “virtues” of sin, but he openly mocks those who follow God and rejects God’s Word. He may not only be the “most scandalous of sinners,” but he also is most certainly the farthest from repentance.
And did you note the progression down the path of ungodliness? Wrong thinking begets wrong actions begets a wrong (hardened) heart. What happened? The one who indulges in sin and a sinful mindset evidences that he does not care about the holiness of God or the impact of his sin.
What is the antidote? The psalmist also tells us the simple remedy: Scripture. The surest way to avoid sin is to indulge your mind in the meditation of the word of God — “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (v. 2).
As Derek Kidner has written, “Whatever really shapes a man’s thinking shapes his life [actions].” [my emphasis.]