In my last post, I outlined Psalm 1:1-3 under the title “Blessedness.” Now I’d like to narrow the microscope down onto one particular aspect of that passage and offer a word about sin’s progression. Hardened sinners don’t get that way overnight. Psalm 1:1 describes a systematic progression.
First, the person gets counsel from the ungodly and walks in that counsel. That gets him started in the wrong direction. That’s why the verse speaks of walking in the counsel of the ungodly.
Second, walking in that counsel leads the person out of the will of God and into the path of sinners. Once he is in that path of sin, he realizes that he enjoys the sin and decides to stand around for a while in that way. He isn’t in any big hurry to confess the sin, repent of it, and get right with God. He’s stopped walking. Now he’s standing.
Third, he ends up sitting down in a seat in the midst of the scornful (hardened, calloused sinners). To take a seat is to settle in for a lengthy stay. It is to become part of the group.
Let me use just one kind of sin as an example of the progression of sin. Let’s say that a man is considering having an affair. He’s having some trouble in his marriage, and there is a woman at work who seems to be just what he needs.
Rather than seeking out counsel from a godly person who knows the Bible and how to apply it to life, this man gets counsel from an ungodly buddy of his. The buddy has been married and divorced three times and had numerous affairs over the course of those marriages. The buddy says, “Go for it. Have the affair. Take it from me, you’ll be glad that you lived a little.” So, the man takes that ungodly counsel, walks in it, leaves the will of God, and has a one-night stand with that co-worker. What’s he doing? He is walking in the counsel of the ungodly.
Well, the man discovers that he enjoys that one night stand. He doesn’t get caught, and he finds that the sneaking around is sort of exciting. So he keeps the affair going. Once or twice a week he meets with his “other woman.” What’s he doing now? He is standing in the path of sinners. The rebellion against God is now deeper and more concrete.
Then, somewhere along the way, the man goes from standing in the path of sinners to sitting down in the seat of the scornful. He becomes cynical and hardened. In some illogical way, he’s angry at God because God didn’t give him a “happily ever after” marriage. He gets to the point where he mocks the things of God and despises anything remotely spiritual.
Do you see the progression of sin? First, there is the walking. Then there is the standing. Finally, there is the sitting.
And that is where the cycle tragically begins to repeat itself on another victim. Sticking with my example, when a young man naively asks the hardened, scornful sinner about getting married, he sarcastically answers, “Yeah, that’s what you need to do. Go and get married. Hook yourself up to that old ball and chain.” You see, that answer comes under the category “the counsel of the ungodly,” and the naive potential groom then has to make his own decision as to whether or not to walk in it and begin his own line of sin’s progression.