Some things are difficult for me to understand. I am not referring to the sciences or mathematics, even though I could for they gave me a lot of trouble when I was in school -- I am talking about some things that, on the surface, seem simple enough but yet often have me asking myself, "Why?"
Why is it, in the face of all we know about the dangers of smoking, people still smoke cigarettes?
A person would have to have been a hermit for the past 40 years not to know of the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes. It is well documented that this habit causes cancer, heart disease, lung ailments and other maladies. There is not a rational person who can say that he does not know how harmful smoking is to one's health. Yet, people continue to puff away. Why?
The reasons are many but basically I believe there are three main ones.
1) The "Superman Syndrome." This is the idea that while others may be adversely affected by it, it will not hurt me. I knew a woman who had smoked for 65 years. She had to have portions of both of her lungs removed because of cancer. She had less than 15% of her lung capacity. She needed oxygen nearly all the time. Yet she would not stop smoking. Why? She claimed it was not harmful to her. She said that her cancer came from working in a peanut warehouse when she was a teenager and that the peanut dust caused her respiratory problems. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, she never admitted that her smoking harmed her. It may have hurt others but not her. Sadly, there are many people like her.
2) "Nobody's going to tell me what to do. I'll live or die as I please." Many who know how harmful smoking is do it just to be rebellious. The more you warn and caution some people about the dangers of a thing or practice, they, instead of being deterred from it, have their interest in it heightened. They somehow think that it makes them an independent thinker. In reality, when taking up smoking they must not be thinking at all. Young people are especially vulnerable to this attitude.
3) They want to do it. Even though people might know the dangers involved in smoking they will still engage in it because it is something they just want to do. They usually say that, though, because many of those consequences, especially the most injurious, are not immediate. So they are willing to trade the future for present pleasure.
I must also ask "Why?" when it comes to using seatbelts while driving. Why is it that people who know the dangers of not wearing seatbelts or not having their children wear them, do not "buckle up?"
Again, the harmful effects are well documented and easily seen. Why is it that people do not wear them?
I believe the reasons are the same as those cited for smoking cigarettes: "It won't happen to me." "Nobody's going to tell me what to do." "I just don't like wearing a belt. It is uncomfortable so I am not going to wear one. I'll do what I like."
You knew the main lesson of this article was not really smoking or seatbelt usage. It is just that when one starts asking "Why?" when it comes to these practices, one sees the same reasons that people use when it comes to sin against God and their participation in it.
The dangers of sin are plainly revealed in Scripture. The soul that sins shall die (Ezek. 18:20). "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). All sinners will have their place in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). Seeing the fate of the sinner, why do people sin?
1) They sin because they think others may suffer but somehow they will not. They believe somehow they will be exempted from such suffering. But God is impartial (Acts 10:34-35). He promises that one will reap what he sows (Gal. 6:7-8). If one sows to the flesh, to sin, he will reap corruption. There will be no exceptions. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).
2) Some will not be guided by the Bible. They refuse to submit to the will of God choosing, rather, to follow their own will. Nobody, not even God, is going to tell them how to live their lives.
3) They want to sin. They want the pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:24-26). They are willing to give up an eternity of joy in the presence of God for the passing pleasures of sin. Many have exchanged their soul for sins they enjoy (Matt. 16:26).
Why is it that people sin? I have given some basic reasons but, given its harmful consequences, they still do not make sense. Sin does not make sense. But it still "brings forth death" (Jas. 1:15).