Paul puts it this way: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption" (Galatians 6:7-8). Speaking of humanity as a whole, he explains: "Destruction and misery are in their ways. And the way of peace they have not known" (Romans 3:16-17; compare Isaiah 59:7-8).
Sin—disobeying God—produces suffering and pain. God hates sinful attitudes and deeds (Proverbs 8:13) because of their horrible effects. Sin leads to broken relationships, violence and misery. It cuts us off from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).
The utter selfishness that lies behind sins that are inconsiderate of others and even inhumane is vividly described in Proverbs 1:
"My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, 'Come and join us. Let's hide and kill someone! Let's ambush the innocent! Let's swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims. Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of death. And the loot we'll get! We'll fill our houses with all kinds of things! Come, throw in your lot with us; we'll split our loot with you.'
"Don't go along with them, my child! Stay far away from their paths. They rush to commit crimes. They hurry to commit murder. When a bird sees a trap being set, it stays away. But not these people! They set an ambush for themselves; they booby-trap their own lives! Such is the fate of all who are greedy for gain. it ends up robbing them of life" (Proverbs 1:10-19, New Living Translation, 1996).
Or, as another translation renders the end of Proverbs 1:19, "Greed kills selfish people" (New Century Version).
Sin is like a trap; lawlessness is a snare. It may look harmless until the consequences begin to appear. Then the sinner is trapped, ensnared by his own foolishness. Not only does sin harm others, but it destroys the sinner's character and often endangers his life.
There is no such thing as a harmless sin. In the end, sin makes everyone a loser. Read Psalm 1:1-6 for a clear lesson in the fruits of living God's way contrasted with the outcome of living sinfully.
Yet often sin appears enticing because frequently it offers temporary rewards and pleasures. We, therefore, are constantly faced with choices. Most of all we need to consider the consequences of those choices.
For example, "Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward [that God would give him]" (Hebrews 11:24-26).
It's often difficult to see the end result of sin. Because the devil is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) and will favor those who will choose to sin (Matthew 4:8-10), evil can appear to be a fast and sure road to pleasure and enjoyable things.
But such ill-gotten gain comes with a hidden price, as is clearly expressed in Psalm 73:
"For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked . . . They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth . . . Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain I have kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning . . .
"But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
"Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms . . .
"For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works" (Psalm 73:3; Psalm 73:8-20; Psalm 73:27-28, English Standard Version).
No amount of temporary gain is worth the present and future consequences of sin!