So, over the past few weeks we have had many discussions at my house concerning various things and the discussion has turned to the pros and cons of the subject. When discussing the pros and cons, what we are really discussing are ratios and balance.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? This becomes a matter of personal preference in many cases. The simple case of eating corn on the cob is my favorite example. I often choose not to eat corn on the cob because, though it is tasty and I enjoy it, the work of buttering, salting, and then eating and cleaning up is not worth the pro of how good it tastes. But this ratio for me is not static. Some days it sounds much better and I will go through the work to eat the corn or, like last Wednesday, I did not have the options of butter and salt so the ratio changed. The corn was not as tasty, but the work was minimal. As much as my own ratio has some variability others have a completely different take on the ratio. For them, though the items on each balance scale may be exactly the same as mine, they assign different values to those items.
We all do this everyday. Is it worth stopping for gas in the morning when it is cold outside and you need to get to work? Often times it is not worth it, however, on the day when the gas tank says empty, the ratio must shift because now there is the option of your car dying for want of fuel. Pros and cons, balance, proportions and ratios – this is how most of our lives work.
In many cases life can and does operate this way, but the idea that it is ok for everyone to have a different proportion or ratio opposes the fact that there are absolutes and therefore some ratios are right and some are wrong. Regardless of how my personal ratio balances, God has commanded me to work to provide for my family. Ideally, my ratio will line up with God’s and I will see the value, but regardless of what I see or think, there is a right and a wrong. The only conclusion then is that, though our personal proportions of life may differ and in many areas there is this freedom, the perceptions that form our ratios are not always accurate. Our personal balance that we find in our lives is often skewed by our perception. God’s view on things is the only correct view, and therefore not everything we count as a pro or con is really that.
It was almost inevitable that in all three conversations that had taken place in our house, that this statement would be (and was) made: “There are pros and cons to everything.” I made that statement myself, but I was incorrect, and about the second time I heard it, God showed me I was wrong.
There are no cons to being a Christian. Christianity is based on a relationship with Jesus Christ, and there is no con to that. Certainly there are perceived cons, but there is no real con because I am a Christian. Instead, the perception again is from our skewed perspective and God is the one who determines if there are really pros and cons. Certainly almost everyone who is saved would argue that the pros far outweigh the cons, but we would see there being certain cons to the Christian life, and therefore to having a relationship with Christ. Two equal statements made a sharp contrast for me: 1. There are no cons to being a Christian. 2. There are no cons to having a relationship with Jesus my Savior. While they mean the same, I believe Christendom as a whole is far more inclined to have a list of cons for its Christianity.
Seeing with the spectacles of faith though, will allow us to see the world and truth as it is, and in fact we will see that there are no cons whatsoever to being a Christian. I would like to look at two of the perceived cons to see what God has to say about them.
The lack of sin, the most obvious to the unbeliever, is considered a great con. When I worked at a secular business, I was often told how boring my life must be or how awful it was that I “couldn’t do this or that.” What the lost are focused on is the pleasure of sin for a season, but what many Christians do is concentrate on the word “pleasure.” They say, but there is pleasure in sin, if only for a season. This does not necessitate a con. Logically, the absence of one certain pleasure does not create a con, but what does the Scripture say? The context of the statement is in Hebrews 11.
24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
The context of the passage is not the normal usage of an individual sin that we might or might not want to do. It is the lifestyle of sin that Moses was choosing. He could have enjoyed the lifestyle of sin living against God, and dwelling in Egypt or He could have chosen the path of faith. The unbeliever only has the pleasures of sin, and those are only for a brief season – their life. When their life is over, that is all they ever get. There is the saying that this is the closest to heaven the lost will ever get. That is very true. The little pleasures they get for their season is their life. Not sinning is not a con for the believer.
Consider what Paul says in Romans 6.
1. We are dead to sin and freed from it.
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
It is the depravity of our hearts that causes us to want to sin – not the new creature that we have become. We are new creatures. Old things are passed away. We are freed from the sin! We do not have to sin any more. Consider the lack of choice that we had prior to our salvation. Sin was not a choice before, but rather our default decision, and even though the lost want to sin, their sin does make them miserable. Sin itself is the con. Not sinning is a blessing from God. Now that we are saved we are free from that, and we are dead to sin. We are not forced to sin anymore. We have the option and choice. And with the choice comes a new desire.
Romans 7 gives us the outworking of being dead to and free from sin.
2. We don’t want to sin anymore.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 6 says I’ve been freed from sin, and Romans 7 says I no longer want to sin. The sin that dwells in me fights and is at war with my mind because I want to do right. I do not want to sin. I am free from that. We don’t want to go back and serve our old master. We are a new creature. This is the life of the Spirit-filled believer.
You say, “Then why do I want to sin?!” Because sin is the most potent addiction. When someone leaves an addition they do not forget about it. Even when they do not want to go back, if they do not fill their lives with something else, they will go back. That is why so many Christians struggle with the same things day in and day out. They don’t want to sin, but they also don’t take the time to get in God’s Word and to pray to Him so that they have that emptiness filled. And when there is emptiness, they go to the place where they have tried to fill it before. The drunk goes back – not because he forgot the hangover, or thinks it will work this time, but because that is what he knows, and he has nothing else to fill that emptiness. As Christians we do the same thing. We go back to sin because we don’t fill ourselves with God. The new creature we have become and the Spirit of God within us hate sin. When we are walking with God we desire to never sin again. That is what we want, and so according to the Bible and God’s perspective, not sinning is one of the greatest Pros. We do not have to sin. We do not want to sin.
The issue of sin is the issue the unsaved would point out first, but perhaps the issue that Christians point out first is the suffering. “Suffering is a con.” Christ has promised us that we will suffer, and it is a con to knowing Him. The Bible speaks to this as well though, and perhaps these passages can be an encouragement to us as we encounter suffering.
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
1. Suffering is a gift.
It may be hard to understand or accept but suffering is a gift. It is not something to be shunned or feared, but when we understand that God loves us. He is our Father and He cares for us more than we can know. And then He gives us a gift, this cannot be a con. It must be a positive of being a Christian. Consider the example of a child who is given a savings account by their parents. When they receive birthday or Christmas money some of it goes in the savings account. Just because the child doesn’t understand how that is a positive thing at the time doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge blessing. Gifts from God are blessings. Suffering must be a Pro of being a child of His. He knows us, and He gives us this gift when the timing is correct.
1 Peter 4
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
2. Suffering brings us closer to Christ and joy
We are to rejoice in our sufferings. When we are to rejoice and be happy in suffering how can we consider it a con of the Christian life? Be happy in suffering! This is a positive of our walk with God. We are walking closer to Christ. We get to walk with and partake of Christ’s suffering. This allows us to glory more when Christ is revealed. Our suffering is not a negative thing. It is not a con. It is our partaking with our Savior. Maybe your friend is working out in the yard on a hot day, and you go out to help them. And you work for a few hours, sweat pouring in your face. And you don’t do it because you enjoy the work. Maybe you don’t like it at all, but instead you enjoy the fact that you are working with your friend. That you can spend time together. And at the end of the day, what do you say? What do you recall? You say it was a good day, because you were with your friend. It wasn’t a bad day. Had your friend not been there, you may have been miserable all day. Peter speaks about what suffering is like when we deserve it and it is not just because we are Christians. And that is not fun. But the suffering that causes us to partake with Christ, and to join with Him, is to cause us to rejoice. We should be happy because we are with Him.
There are no cons to walking with Christ. There are only positives. As a new creature in Christ, I am free from and dead to sin. Not any longer forced to sin, and having the great desire to not sin – keeping myself separated and holy for God is a great positive of the Christian life. Suffering allows me to identify with Christ and partake with Him. It is a cause of rejoicing and happiness and another great positive of living for Christ.
Perhaps there are other things you would consider as cons to being a Christian. Look at what God says about them. Search through His Word. God loves us. God will do what is best, and that means that every thing to happen because of our relationship to Christ is not a con, but a pro. We need to change our perspective to match that of God’s because His is the only one that matters.