The Prodigal Son: The Runaway – Part I

When I was young I *tried* running away from home.

I don’t remember much of that night except intense prepubescent rage and exhaustively trying to convey to my parents that they didn’t understand my obvious genius.

Exasperated by the whole ordeal, in stereotypical fashion I cried out “Fine!” and my father shouted back “Fine!”. I confidently marched out the door into my first taste of freedom.

Overwhelming sobriety washed over my young self when I realized that I was all alone, out in the middle of nowhere and afraid of the dark. In a moment of pure humiliation, like a dog with his tail between his legs, I knocked on the door and asked if my dad would accept me back. I didn’t even make it off the front porch.

Most of us though, make it off the front porch of our father’s house as we pursue the belief that it’s better out there than it is in here. We believe we know more and would be better off away from home. As we learned in the last post, all sin starts with a lie. 

Today, we dissect the lie that leads us away from our Father’s house into the far country.

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The Runaway 

Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. (ESV) – Luke 15:13-15 

The younger son liquidates his inheritance, which would have probably been in land and livestock, and takes a journey into the far away country. He pursued the lie that “it was better out there in the far away country, than staying here with the father.” Like so many of us, we believe that God is withholding from us and that his rules are keeping us from true joy.

In the far away country he squanders all that he had, finds himself abandoned, in need, and doing things he never thought he would do.

This portion of the narrative tells us much about the nature of sin and it’s end. Not only does all sin start with a lie, but sin itself is deceitful. 

Sin is Deceitful 

Sin itself is deceptive. It has been that way since the garden. “Did God really say….”

The thing people don’t ever talk about, but I think we should if we’re being honest with ourselves: Sin can be fun. (Pause for audible gasp). The forbidden fruit was pleasing to the eye. Sin doesn’t look rotten from the outside.

There is no doubt in my mind that the younger son was having fun in his reckless living, or at least had the perception of fun. He was partying, had a lot of “friends” around him, was pursuing every desire his heart had and seemingly having a good time.

The younger brother didn’t think through this lens and we don’t usually either – there is a substantial difference between temporal fun and soul satisfaction.

We all “feel good” when we’re wasting our time watching Netflix all day, but we walk away lethargic, frustrated that we wasted the day, and unsatisfied. We all “enjoy” when we tell that little white lie that gets us out of trouble, but it’s unsatisfying when that lie gets out of control. All my friends that have struggled with drug, alcohol or porn addiction were all having “fun” at the beginning, but then having its addictive hooks in them has proved to be deeply unsatisfying.

Staying at “home” with God is not a suppressive act and He is not trying to rob you of fun. His law is in place to help you thrive in your humanity. The Creator knows what’s best for his creation. The Designer understands best how his design should operate.

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Seeing Sin as Sin 

Ultimately, we just don’t see sin for its true nature. It was Dallas Willard who posed the question, “What makes sin so attractive?” His answer: “We don’t see it as sin.” 

At the end of the day, sin is deceitful and trying to destroy you.

In Genesis God warns Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7). If we let sin gain the foothold, then it will not stop until it has consumed all of us. 

John Owen, the Puritan theologian wrote, “Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Be killing sin or it will be killing you. Haunting words that have crept into my bones ever since I first read them.

Sin is not this act of innocent fun, but a rebellious act against a holy God. It never fully satisfies your soul longing and ultimately leads to death.

Resisting the Far Country 

In light of this truth, let us see sin for what it truly is, a lie that deceives and is attempting to kill you. We must wage war against our sins, enter into grace-filled, truth speaking accountability groups, and resist the far country, though enticing, with the understanding that it’s never better than remaining at home with the Father.

Above all, let us rejoice in a Savior who never once was deceived by sin. Let us celebrate that only once did he go to the “far country” and that was when he left heaven to come rescue us. Lastly, let us worship the Son who never once rebelled against the Father, but was obedient and obedient to the point of death on a cross for the payment of sin for all who believe.

 

 

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