The literary device of irony can be rather humorous at times. It is not uncommon for my 3-year-old daughter to try and convince me that she is “full” shortly after we begin a meal together. However, as soon as she perceives that there is dessert on the menu, she miraculously changes her tune. The circumstances have changed for her and thus the irony. She has just demonstrated how our sin nature can ironically operate. When it is advantageous for her to change her reality, she conveniently does so but at the expense of revealing the truth.
Interestingly enough, the great irony of sin is keenly portrayed in the last days with the fall of “Babylon the Great”. In Revelation 17, this capital city of the world, which encapsulates the heart of rebellion and the very throne of the Antichrist, eventually succumbs to its own demise. The fundamental lie that evil promulgates is the satisfaction and success one will enjoy when sin is committed. The appearance of sin is what makes this lie look so attractive and believable. Throughout Scripture, the personification of sin is often portrayed as an alluring individual such as you will find in Proverbs 5-7. There, folly is seen as “the forbidden woman whose lips drip with honey and her speech is smoother than oil” (5:3). Her destructive consequences can be seen in Proverbs 7 where the author paints a picture of an ox going to slaughter or an arrow skewering one’s liver. Her house is described as the way of Sheol and the chambers of death (7:27). It’s no wonder the warning goes out to “keep far from her” and “do not stray into her paths.” During the tribulation, the very essence of rebellion is portrayed in a similar fashion. John describes Babylon as the “Mother of harlots” adorned with gold and luxurious garments (17:4-5). The great deception is that man can successfully usurp God’s authority by openly blaspheming His name and worshiping the Beast whom they believe can withstand God’s wrath (Rev 13:4). This is exactly how sin initially looks and eventually acts. The lies we believe each and every day are the same. Our prideful lust-craving hearts gravitate to sin’s appearance. It feels satisfying and perhaps even empowering at first. But as we will see in the coming weeks, what grammarians might call, poetic irony, Babylon’s greatness is ravaged and consumed by the very thing it worshiped. May we see the ugly “beauty” of sin for what it is—a harlot full of deceit on her way to destruction. Hear the call of the Psalmist, “O you who love the Lord, hate evil! (Ps 97:10) or the command of Paul, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9). The wise Puritan pastor, Richard Baxter, said it well in his assessment of sin, “Every temptation is from the devil so as to make you like himself. Remember when you sin, you are learning and imitating the devil.” Instead, let us learn and imitate Jesus, the Holy One who ironically became sin for us, conquering sin and death through His own death on the cross. –Pastor Nate
Sunday at Liberty
9AM: 1 John 3:11-24–Loving in Deed and in Truth
10AM: Pastor Rory–Babylon & Destruction, 1–Revelation 17:1-18 (sermon notes)
6:00PM: Evening Gathering at the Martins’
7:00PM: Cookout Church Family SNAC at the Martins’