How to Wander Less into the Smog

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David said it well, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” (Psalm 16:4). In a world of many little ‘g’ gods, sorrows abound. These gods can’t work, be trusted, nor bring lasting contentment. Still, we lean on them like they can. So, sorrows abound.

Idiotic Sinning

For non-believers this is especially true. They’re lost, chasing objects which their Creator never designed them to. This should make us who know the true big ‘g’ God weep.

Yet sprinting into self-imposed ‘god’-sorrow is an affair we as Christians are familiar with as well. Although rescued out of darkness into marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), although having beheld the preciousness of Christ (Matthew 13:44), we still turn back sometimes. We often run back into the dark.

Doing so displays the stupidity of sin—a stupidity that’s nearly comical, if it wasn’t so hurtful. How would we analyze a man who, having been rescued from hypothermic waters, leaps right back in? We’d state that he was wacky, yes; but more so, we’d perceive the tragedy. Responses would vary from “What in the world is he doing?” to “No, don’t!”

What Are We Doing!?

This is often us—running back to that which always wanted to kill us. The apostle Paul, writing to faltering Christians, admonished, “Now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God, how can you turn back again tot he weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:9). We know God. Even greater, God knows us! Yet we wish to return to those weak and worthless aspirations, goals, lusts, and pleasures? We know the glories of the gospel, we’ve tasted a better joy. And yet we’re titillated by puny gems and look to reverse? Zombie-like, we meander back into the smog.

What are we doing!?

Repentance Coupled With Logic

A helpful path forward is revealed in the same text. By adhering to the Bible’s counsel, we can rush into sorrow less. To be sure, on this side of glory, we’ll all wander back from time to time. Even as Christians, we will find ourselves revering some vapid idol. Unfortunately, that’s often what sin is. Nonetheless, the reverence and return could—and should, with sanctification—occur less regularly. So, how?

Sulking isn’t the remedy. Yes, there’s a much needed place for repentance; but repentance is not pouting. Repentance will bring change; moping will not. There’s a major distinction between “Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4) and “Ugh, I just continue doing it!” The latter will lead us nowhere nearer to Christ; we rather will use it to justify ourselves when we revisit the idol in the smog.

Instead, there’s a better recourse: repentance coupled with logic. Yes, logic. Logic will help us not return to the smog.

Rationalize and Realize How Ridiculous It Is

This is evident in the passage already quoted by Paul. I’ll reference it again here. The Galatians are wandering back, drifting back to worldly ways and accepting ungodly truths. So, Paul reasons with them:

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you detected the logic. Perhaps you observed his argument, his connections, his point—his logic. He gives them three truths, and one implied result in light of them. We can paraphrase his argument thus: “[Truth #1] You once we enslaved, but now you’re free. [Truth #2] You know God and God knows you. [Truth #3] And those that you keep returning to are weak and worthless (or as the NIV puts it, ‘weak and miserable’). [Result] So, don’t turn back!” That’s compelling logic. Notice, Paul doesn’t just say, “It’s wrong. Stop it. Stop going back.” He could have. But instead, he reasons, he uses an argument: “Since all this is true, rationalize and realize how ridiculous your return back is!”

A Way to Wander Less

This is a way to wander less into the smog: to be convinced of connected truths (hence, logic). Convinced—or else the logic will possess no weight. We must be persuaded of the slavishness of sin, of our relationship with God, and of how departing to the smog leads to weakness, worthlessness, and misery. We need to realize that returning into the darkness—accepting lies, surrendering to sins, forsaking God’s Book—isn’t merely walking the ‘wrong’ way. It’s strolling into misery.

We must feel the “What are you doing!?”

Weak, Worthless Joy-Killers

So, next time that a temptations comes, let’s use logic. Let’s reason, argue, know truths and connect dots, all for God’s glory (as we esteem him better than sin) and our good (as we avoid misery). Paul wrote to the Galatians with this logic, such rationality is in God’s Word in numerous other places, and there’s power in it. “What am I doing?! I know God, and that will make me weak, worthless, and miserable!” Or once again, as David reasoned, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply” (Psalm 16:4)

Finally, fighting this way does not mean we’re battling sin with our own strength. Just because someone exercises their brain and logic does not mean they’re succumbing to self-reliance, nor that they aren’t trusting God. Instead, they very well may be trusting God with such logic. Paul shows us that logic is evidently a powerful way God uses; so, we very well may trust God by utilizing convincing logic.

Paul also famously wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13). What we must apprehend is that a “way of escape” may come through such logic: “I know God, and that is a weak, worthless joy-killer. So, no.”

Logic is powerful. It isn’t just for mathematicians, philosophers, or theologians. It’s there for all of us, everyday. For his glory and our good, let’s take up this God-given weapon.