In 1982, "ABC Evening News" reported on an unusual work of modern art-a chair affixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gunbarrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at an undetermined moment within the next hundred years.
The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell's path! They all knew that the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn't happen during their minute in the chair.
Yes, it was foolhardy, yet many people who wouldn't dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling that they can get away with sin. Foolishly they ignore the risk until the inevitable self-destruction.
Illustrations For Preaching & Teaching
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker, p. 226.
Sin - Attitude
The story is told of a little girl whose mother planned to celebrate her fifth birthday by impressing all the relatives. The mother dressed her daughter in fine clothes and said, "Now, here's what I want you to do. You're going to sing a song."
When it was time for the little girl to sing, her mother says, "Honey, what are you going to do?"
The child says, "Nothing."
The mother finds a convenient spot to pinch her and says, "Weren't you going to sing?"
The child says, "No."
The angry mother takes the child upstairs and shuts her in a closet. About half an hour later, the mother goes up and says, "What are you doing up here?"
The child says, "I've been having a great time. I've been spitting on your clothes. I've been spitting in your shoes. I've been spitting on your walls. I've been spitting on the carpet. Now I'm waiting for some more spit."
That attitude of waiting for some more spit is what sin is all about. For man, sin is not just an act. Sin is an attitude. Man is not a sinner because he is a transgressor. He is a transgressor because he is already a sinner. The offense is not only in the transgression but in the intention. Sin is not merely the violation of law but in the disposition of the heart.
Sin - Consequences Of
Chuck Yeager, the famed test pilot, was flying an F-86 Sabre over a lake in the Sierras when he decided to buzz a friend's house near the edge of the lake. During a slow roll, he suddenly felt his aileron lock. Says Yeager, "It was a hairy moment, flying about 150 feet off the ground and upside down."
A lesser pilot might have panicked with fatal results, but Yeager let off on the G's, pushed up the nose, and sure enough, the aileron unlocked. Climbing to 15,000 feet, where it was safer, Yeager tried the maneuver again. Every time that he rolled, the problem reoccurred.
Yeager knew three or four pilots had died under similar circumstances, but to date, investigators were puzzled as to the source of the Sabre's fatal flaw. Yeager went to his superior with a report, and the inspectors went to work. They found that a bolt on the aileron cylinder was installed upside down.
Eventually, the culprit was found in a North American plant. He was an older man on the assembly line who ignored instructions about how to insert that bolt, because, by golly, he knew that bolts were supposed to be placed head up, not head down. In a sad commentary, Yeager says that nobody ever told the man how many pilots he had killed."
The Accountability Connection (Victor Books, 1992), story from Chuck Yeager, Yeager, (Bantam, 1985)
Sin - Consequences Of
The thirty-seven-year-old New York man was a small-time crook, the kind who would mug little old ladies for the cash in their purses. But on Sunday, July 21, 1996, this crook messed with the wrong little old lady. According to the Chicago Tribune, the mugger bumped into a ninety-four-year-old woman in Greenwich Village and snatched her wallet. The NYPD later picked him up, and as they drove him to the station, police lieutenant Robert McKenna told the suspect, "You just robbed the mother of the biggest mob chieftain in New York."
The ninety-four-year-old woman was Yolanda Gigante, and her son is Vincent Gigante, described by authorities as head of the Genovese mob, the nation's most powerful Mafia family.
The police lieutenant later said, "When the perp heard that, he just slumped down into the back seat of the radio car. He had a sort of stunned, resigned look on his face, sort of saying, 'How could I be so stupid?"'
Whenever we sin, we get ourselves into more trouble than we bargained for.
Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 245.
Sin - Distractions
According to Jeff Gammage in the Chicago Tribune, in the summer of 1996 several thoroughbred racehorses in Kentucky developed foul nasal odors and bloody noses followed by infections in their nostrils. When veterinarians examined the horses, to their astonishment they found small egg-shaped sponges deep in the horses' nasal passages.
Where did the sponges come from?
Authorities determined that someone wanting to fix races had tampered with the horses, inserting the sponges to interfere with the horses' breathing, cut down their oxygen intake, and slow them down. Ten instances of such "sponging" were reported within a nine-month period, and the FBI was called in to investigate.
Like sponges in a thoroughbred's nostrils, sins and distractions weaken a Christian. They take away from what God wants us to be and do.
Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker, p. 70.
Sin - Is Stupid
Actual crimes committed by actual criminals:
Two Kentucky men tried to pull off the front of a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. The front panel of the machine was so secure that instead they pulled off the bumper of their truck. Scared, they fled the scene and drove home, leaving the chain attached to the machine…with their bumper still attached to the chain…with their vehicle’s license plate still attached to the bumper.
A man convicted of robbery in Texas worked out a deal to pay $9,600 in damages rather than serve a prison sentence. For payment he provided the court with a check—a stolen check with a forged signature. He got 10 years.
A man went into a drugstore, pulled a gun, announced a robbery, and pulled a Hefty trash-bag face mask over his head. Too late he realized that he’d forgotten to cut eyeholes in the mask. While sprinting blindly to the door, he fell down and was captured.
A man walked into a convenience store, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and demanded all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man grabbed the cash from the clerk and fled—leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars.
In San Francisco a man walked into a downtown Bank of America and wrote, "This is a stickup. Put all your many in this bag." While standing in line waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, guessing from his spelling errors that he was not the brightest bank robber in the world, told him that she could not accept his stickup note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said okay and left the Wells Fargo Bank. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police, who arrested him a few minutes later as he was waiting in line back at the Bank of America.
Sin is stupid.
Still More Hot Illustration For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zondervan, pp. 51-52.
Sin - Leads To Death
According to tradition, this is how an Eskimo hunter kills a wolf.
First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. He then adds layer after layer of blood until the blade is completely concealed by the frozen blood.
Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the cold Arctic night. His craving for blood becomes so great that the wolf does not notice the razorsharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue. Nor does he recognize the instant when his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite continues to crave more until in the morning light, the wolf is found dead on the snow!
Many kids begin using drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or engaging in unsafe sexual behavior for the same reasons that the wolf begins licking the knife blade. It seems safe and delicious at first, but it doesn't satisfy. More and more is desired, leading to a crisis-or death.
Don't be fooled by the temptations of sin. Like the wolf, we can get away with it for a while. Eventually, however, its true character is revealed. Sin leads to death and destruction. "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zonderzan, pp. 87-88.
Sin - Missing The Mark
Let's say we were to get twenty of the best broad jump or long jump athletes in the world and take them to Huntington Beach pier and line them up. And let's say they were instructed, "We went you to jump as far as you can out into the water." Some could jump twenty-five feet. Some would come near the record and jump twenty-seven feet. Perhaps one could set a new record and jump twenty-nine or thirty feet. But nobody could jump to Catalina Island. It is humanly impossible. Every person would miss the mark because Catalina Island is twenty-six miles away.
In Romans 3:23, there is the universal statement that God gives to all men when He says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We all have missed the mark and are in need of the saving grace of God.
The Tale Of The Tardy Oxcart
Charles R. Swindoll, Word, p. 523.
Sin - Say No To
In the 1960s, drug companies were presenting nearly 700 applications a year to the Federal Drug Administration for new medicines. The stressed New Drug Section only had sixty days to review each drug before giving approval or requesting more data.
A few months after Dr. Frances Kelsey joined the FDA, an established pharmaceutical firm in Ohio applied for a license to market a new drug, Kevadon. In liquid form, the drug seemed to relieve nausea in early pregnancy. It was given to millions of expectant women, mostly in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Although scientific studies revealed harmful side effects, the pharmaceutical firm printed 66,957 leaflets declaring its safety. The company exerted great pressure on Dr. Kelsey to give permission for labels to be printed, in anticipation of the drug's approval.
Dr. Kelsey reviewed the data and said no. Through several rounds of applications, she continued to find the data "unsatisfactory." After a fourteen-month struggle, the company humbly withdrew its application. "Kevadon" was thalidomide, and by that time, the horror of thalidomide deformities was becoming well publicized! One firm "no" decision by Dr. Kelsey spared untold agony in the United States.
Sometimes standing your ground on something may not seem that important but in time you may see the "big" picture.
God tells us to stay away from sin because He knows how harmful it is to our physical and spiritual well being. Although the world is pressing us to say yes to sin, we must have the courage to stand up and say "NO" (Tit. 2:12). It may not be the most popular decision, but it will be the wisest decision.
God's Little Devotional Book
Honor Books, p. 53.