I. THE SWEET TASTE OF SIN. How can we account for the tact that if sin is essentially an evil thing it should ever be attractive to us? Surely its natural hatefulness should make it repulsive. If it is hideous in the sight of God, by what witchery can it be made to appear fascinating to our eyes?
1. It appeals to our lower desires. It makes its first appeal to nature. There was no evil at first in Adam and Eve, and yet sin was made attractive to them. Christ could not have been tempted unless sin had been made to wear a fair mask in his presence. The bodily appetites and the self-seeking desires are natural and innocent in themselves. But they should be kept under by our higher nature. If, however, the tempter appeals to them directly, he appeals to the prospect of natural pleasure.
2. It is aided by our selfish nature. We are all fallen creatures. If the fall has not taken the form of sensuality, it has certainly been accomplished in selfishness. Now sin appeals to our selfish nature, and promises personal gratification at the expense of righteousness.
3. It is intensified by corrupted desires. Sin perverts the natural appetites and corrupts the most innocent desires. The wicked thing which is first sought because of some promised result comes to be loved on its own account. As the miser loves his money, so the sinner loves his sin - first for what it can purchase, then on its own account. He is like a hypnotized person, to whom gall tastes like sugar, because he is deluded into believing evil to be his good.
II. THE BITTER AFTER-TASTE OF SIN. Zophar rightly enlarges upon this subject. We do not need any amplification of the delights of sin. The very presentation of them to the imagination is degrading. The soul is soiled by contemplating them. We are quite ready to admit their strength. But it is not so easy to imagine vividly and to keep well in view the dreadful after-results. They are remote, unattractive, uncongenial. Therefore we need to be forced to see the results of sin in detail. Zophar narrates them with graphic ragout. Let us, then, consider the disagreeable details of the bitter after-taste.
1. It is pain within. The morsel is sweet in the mouth, and it is hidden under the tongue to keep it safe and to prolong the delicious enjoyment of it; yet when it is swallowed it becomes like the gall of asps. The recollection of past sin is a pain of conscience. Its very delights are turned to bitterness in the after-thought. Just in proportion to their tempting fascination before the deed is their repulsiveness after it has been committed. The foolish victim of temptation looks back on his orgies with disgust. He loathes himself, he grovels in humiliation. How could he have been such a fool as to sink to this shame and degradation?
2. It results in the loss of future delights. The sinner is made to give up his fiches. He is denied "the brooks, the rivers, the torrents of honey and butter," which he was greedily looking forward to. The justice of God will not permit him to revel for ever in wickedness. By his indulgence in sinful pleasures he has destroyed the faculty of innocent joy. His debauch has turned the garden of innocent delights into a desert. For such a man there is no hope but in complete regeneration. Yet that is possible. Even he can be converted, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus. - W.F.A.
Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth.I. THE DISPOSITION OF A WICKED MAN IN REGARD TO SIN.
1. His complacency in it. "It is sweet to his mouth." A metaphor taken from natural food, which is pleasing and delightful to the taste, which is seated in the mouth or palate. So is sin to the carnal heart. It is very sweet and refreshing to it. Especially in the first embracing or entertaining of it. The ground hereof is this. It is suitable and connatural to him. We may judge of the delight which a wicked person has in sin, by the measure of a gracious person's delight in goodness. Satan enlarges and advances things to them, and makes them seem greater than they are.
2. His concealment of it. "He hides it under his tongue." This wicked persons do, either by speaking for sin, or by speaking against it. They speak for it by denying it, or diminishing it, or defending it.
3. His indulgence or favourableness towards it. He spares it, and does not forsake it. He spares it, as to matter of search and inquiry; as to matter of resistance and opposition; as to matter of expulsion, and ejection, and mortification. He does not forsake it. He never forsakes his sin, till his sin forsake him, and he can keep it no longer. A man cannot be said to forsake any sin in particular, who does not forsake the way of sin in general.
II. THE EFFECT OF SIN TO A WICKED MAN. "Yet his meat," etc. In the general, "His meat within his bowels is turned." In the particular, "It is as the gall of asps within him." This figure represents the bitterness and the perniciousness of sin. Use and improvement.
1. Beware of being taken with any sinful way or course whatsoever, from the seeming sweetness that is in it.
2. Do not please thyself in the covering and concealing of sin.
3. Or in self-security and presumption.
4. Use Christian prudence to see the plague afar off, to hide yourselves from it.
(T. Horton, D.D.)
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