As a child I use to love to watch my shadow. The size of the shadow amazed me. It was enjoyable to see how large I could make the silhouette without actually losing it. At other times I would notice that the size had diminished to the point that it looked smaller than my tiny frame. Sometimes no matter where I went I had the shadow with me. The innocence of this kind of shadow-play brought relief in times of boredom.
Over the years my shadow transformed from a playful reflection of innocence to a shadow of offenses. It is the natural progression of things. As I grew up I lost the innocence of childhood and became more responsible for my actions. I began to make decisions based on what I desired. They were not always the right decisions or the wisest. Mistakes were made and lessons were learned. But because of my obedience to the Lord at an early age, I realized that I did not have to bear the burden of the shadow of sin.
Obviously, sin is a result of one’s choice. As a child becomes aware of what a lie is and makes the choice to be dishonest instead of telling the truth, he has chosen sin over right doing. Ezekiel gives a scenario in chapter 18 of a wicked man who has a son “that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like” (v. 14). We have a situation here that ninety-nine percent of psychologists in this country would deny. This son observes his father’s life and realizes that he has a choice to make. He could make excuses about his environment or his genes, but he does neither. He makes a choice. Many psychologists attempt to make the guilty party feel totally irresponsible for his or her actions due to where he grew up, how he was treated as a child, or what kind of emotional instability was dominant in his family history. But the Bible teaches us that we are accountable for our own choices (Rom. 14:12). We will give an account for every action and every word we speak (Matt. 12:36).
The story of the prodigal son is well known and represents this point vividly (Luke 15:11-32). He was the younger of two sons and as the story reveals he declared his rights and received his demands and was on his way. His attitude, first of all, was not what it should have been. Selfishness was a part of his nature and his lust of the eyes was all-consuming. This young man could only see good times ahead. He could only see the friends that awaited and the revelry that his inheritance would bring. However, he could not see the shadow that loomed over him. Satan rarely shows us the counteractive side of sin. It is treacherous and hides from us the pain and anguish, sickness and sorrow and the utter despair it brings to the lives it debases. As the young man “came to himself” he realized what he had allowed to slip through his fingers. He had carelessly tossed aside a worthwhile life for one that left him destitute, friendless, hungry, and miserably alone.
The one that knows what is right and refuses to turn from sin is in even more despair. The life of that one can never be truly happy or content because guilt will not allow it. One in sin, however, can live a live of pretense. He might attempt to convince those he spends time with that he is gratified with his lifestyle, but in the quiet moments when he is alone the awareness of his state with God will not be kept totally at bay. The saddest moment comes when he closes out the guilt feelings without making any change to his heart. He, in essence, cauterize those tender feelings by refusing to consider them. He deceives himself with lies. His heart eventually becomes so calloused that the mere mention of what is right brings him quickly to angry outbursts. The longer one stays in sin the more likely he will totally disregard the Bible altogether. The Bible tells us that a heart can become so shadowed with sin that it cannot be recovered due to the will of the individual (Jer. 13:23; Eph. 4:19; I Tim. 4:2; Heb. 6:4-6).
But thankfully we have an alternative. Sin does not have to maintain a hold on us. God gave us the Bible. He gave us the intelligence to read and understand His Will. He gave each individual the freedom to make his or her choice. God has always wanted the best for us, but what is best for us is not necessarily what we desire. Thus we have a conflict of wills: our’s and God’s. Sin will overshadow a life by presenting a cloud that looks as if it has a silver lining while it actually contains a lifetime of dangerous, ravaging and heartbreaking torrents of consequences. We can instead enjoy a peaceful life of knowing that we have God’s forgiveness on which to fall. Troubles and burdens will come. Of that you can be certain. But with the comfort of knowing God will forgive those who truly confess their sins and willfully change their lives we can boldly stand before the mercy seat of Christ, expecting to receive the gift of life.