By Matt Carter
Nobody would ever walk down the road to sin if they knew what lay at the end of the journey. Seriously, think about it. How many men have you seen throw their lives away through an affair and at the end of it all, with their life in ruins, thought to themselves, Man! That was totally worth it! I’d definitely do that again?
How many times has that happened?
Over the years I cannot tell you how many times I’ve counseled young men and women that walked down the path of sin and heard them say something like, “I had no idea what I was thinking. How did I get to this place? If I had only known what kind of destruction I would bring to my life, I would do things so much differently.”
It’s an all too common theme: the young man that takes his first drink in junior high only to wake up 30 years later with his life in shambles because of alcoholism.
Or the college girl that went to the beach on spring break only to carry the weight and guilt of that week’s decisions for the rest of her life.
What about the young man that goes too far sexually with his girlfriend, eventually breaks up, and has to share those decisions with his future wife?
I could go on and on, but the theme holds true across the board: nobody would ever walk down the road of sin if they truly knew what lay at the end of their journey.
One of the beautiful aspects of the story of the prodigal son is that we get to stand on the sidelines as he takes that journey, and we get to see the end result without having to travel the road ourselves.
First, we see the young man believe the lie that there was life outside the love of his father, and he’s taken that fateful first step down the path of sin and rebellion. Now let’s see what lies ahead for him at the end of the road:
And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. (Luke 15:13–14)
As Jesus tells this young man’s story, He wastes no time in telling us of the consequences of the prodigal’s decision.
The son takes a trip to the faraway land, and in a short time he squanders his inheritance on what Jesus calls “loose living.” The word loose comes from the Greek word asotos, and in the original language it carries with it a much stronger meaning than most English translations. Asotos is a word that might be better translated as riotous.
In other words, Jesus tells us that the young man went to the faraway land and lost his mind. Jesus paints a picture of this guy taking his inheritance and spending it recklessly on every passion, desire, or lust he could get his hands on.
Fleshly living is one thing, but riotous living goes to a whole other level. The word carries with it the idea of partying, drunkenness, and prostitutes. Jesus used that word to paint a picture for us that if there was something or someone or some experience he wanted, he went for it.
At this point in the story, I think the young man’s actions beg the question, “Was the world and all its pleasures everything he had always hoped? Was his decision to go all-in for a life of sin everything he thought it would be? And was there really a better life waiting for him in the faraway land?” Jesus answers those questions with a resounding no.
Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. (Luke 15:14–16)
Jesus wastes no time in letting us know whether the young man found a better life apart from the love of his father. Jesus tells us, “When he had spent everything … he began to be impoverished.”
Through this one little statement, Jesus gives us some incredible insight into the nature of sin and its impact on the life of a child of God. Through the words of Jesus and through the eyes of the prodigal son, we learn vicariously one of life’s most essential lessons:
For the child of God, sin always equals poverty.
Jesus shared this part of the story to show us once and for all that sin is a dead end road, with the final destination being the stinking mud of a pigpen. This young man took the journey to the faraway land hoping to find fun and joy and the fullness of life, but when the party was over, he woke up broke, hungry, and covered in slop.
Believing a lie is the beginning of every sin. Our enemy, the father of lies, continually tries to deceive us into believing that obedience to God will result in our missing out on the best life has to offer.
He loves to whisper to us that sexual purity is outdated and that a single man or woman, saving themselves for marriage, is truly missing out on one of life’s most pleasurable experiences.
Satan loves to convince us that putting our family and marriage on the back burner in order to pursue the pleasures of money and financial security is a better path than a simple life of contentment.
Our enemy is truly skilled at trying to get us to buy the lie that service to God and His church just doesn’t compare to weekends at the lake house with our friends. He’s truly proficient at making young wives believe their husband will never fill their deepest longings for love, but that other guy at the office just might.
Fill in a different whispered lie in your own life, but the stories the enemy tells us always have the same theme: obedience to God equals boring and lifeless; but sin equals fun, excitement, and true happiness.
Through the story of the prodigal son, Jesus is shouting from the rooftops for us to see those things for what they really are—lies.
MATT CARTER (@_Matt_Carter) is pastor of Preaching at The Austin Stone Church in Austin, Texas. Excerpted from The Long Walk Home Copyright © 2019 by Matt Carter. Used by permission from B&H Publishing Group.