But there is one experience I remember as a parent and that was warning our children of a hot stove. Whenever they would venture near the oven, regardless if it was on or not we would cry out “Hot Stove, Burn Baby!”. If one of them decided to muster up some courage to test for themselves that indeed this giant white box would burn them, we would immediately cry out “No!” Fortunately, we never once had one of our children touch the oven or stove and badly burn themselves.
This experience reminds me how the Lord deals with us regarding sin. I always like to say that when someone sins they are living unintelligently. The reason I say this is that we are often like little children who want to touch the stove. God as our Heavenly Father has a greater amount of knowledge than we do. So when God says we are not to do something, it’s because he has the “big picture” and knows that this act or thing will bring tremendous harm to ourselves. Because of God’s enduring love for his children he never wants to see one of his little ones harmed. So when God tells us not to sin, he has gone to great depths to show us how he does not want us to “burn” ourselves. God has given us knowledge or awareness that ‘burning” ourselves is wrong, through his holy word, his moral laws and has even equipped us with reason to assist us in our efforts to learn and grow. As if that’s not enough, God has even sent his only son to demonstrate on the cross just how much he hates for us to “burn ourselves” in sin.
The problem we have when we continue to “touch the hot stove”, is not that we can’t help ourselves or that we are “willed” to touch it (what parent would want such a thing!), but it’s that we have a knowledge and understanding problem. God is telling us not to touch the stove, no matter how good it feels we need not touch it. Once we have been told and personally seen how much God doesn’t want us to sin, we need to trust in his character that he knows what’s best for us – because He truly does love us! This brings to mind several verses from 1 Corinthians whereby Paul is using this same metaphor to express to the church of Corinth that people no longer need to be like children who keep touching the hot stove:
1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.
1Co 14:20 Brothers, stop being children in your thinking. In evil be infants, but in thinking be adults.
1Co 15:34 Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.
For me this last verse really says a lot. People sin because they lack knowledge of the truth. But what does that mean? For me it comes down to truly trusting God’s character over that of my own desires. Once we understand God’s demonstrated character through his Son Jesus Christ, we need no longer be like toddlers who keep touching the hot stove!