Have you ever bought a car that had one mechanical issue after another? Do you recall what you called that car after a while?
Yes. A lemon.
But lemons come in more shapes and sizes than just cars. A house with one structural issue after another can be a lemon; so can an appliance that forces you to constantly call the repair person. An investment in what seemed like a sure bet can be a lemon, too. Ever own stock in Blockbuster, MySpace or Eastman Kodak?
Typically with a lemon, you stop talking about a return on investment and start talking about how to stop the bleeding.
Paul wanted the Romans to become aware of a huge spiritual “lemon.” But this is actually far worse than a lemon. He calls it an actual hazard — a tremendous hazard to life and limb, an eternal threat to body and soul.
It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
What is it? It’s buying in to the “pleasures of sin.” Paul says that those pleasures are very short-lived, and always lead to a very, very bad outcome.
“Buy in to what sin is selling,” he warns. “and ultimately, you’ll become a slave to sin — every last time.”
That sounds pretty “lemonish” to me. But then Paul says even more. Sin can only result in shame and far, far worse, it will lead to eternal death! This is one lemon that will never become lemonade!
Compare that with the return one gets — and all completely a gift! — when one follows Jesus by faith. The result of that, Paul states, is wonderful. It’s holiness, and ultimately, life eternal!
“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:21-23, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, July 21, is Hosea 3:1 – 5:15, Romans 6:15 – 7:6 and Psalm 88:1-9a.
Lord, send me your Spirit through your Word (through the words like these we read in today’s Bible reading) and empower me to “stop the bleeding.” Help me through a repentant heart to turn my back on the short-lived pleasures of sin that lead to death. Jesus, push sin aside in my heart, and take my heart over. Sin can only destroy me forever. I want the gifts you have for me, not the self-destruction and torment that sin always ultimately offers. Forgive me for my sins, and grant me your forgiveness and mercy. Grant me holiness and life.