In reality, there are a thousand, thousand good reasons not to sin, to be holy, to pursuit purity; and there are no good reasons to sin. Our sin problem, then, concerns the word “good.” “Good” is a word concerned, here, in the making of moral value judgments. However, that faculty within us which makes those judgments is broken. This, therefore, gives us a problem with the second word, “reason.” “Reason” has to do with rational decision making. You and I are, sadly, incapable of true rational in this process because we love sin, our faculty for making moral value judgments being broken.
Think about it like this: normally, when you or I make a decision (blue or green carpet, where to eat, what to get dad for Christmas, which college to attend, etc.), we weigh the pros and cons of the various options available and make a choice. For example, let’s say I’m trying to decide where to eat. I’d like to go to Lisa’s Hog House, but they take too long and I don’t have much time. Dean’s Meat Den is closer but pricey. I’m partial to the ribs at the Beef Barn, but I think the bridge is still under construction, and again, I’m pressed for time. Weighing all the factors, I decide to get a double-meat taco from the food truck on my way to work, health advisory or no.
That’s how the decision-making process normally looks: there are rational and emotive facts and judgments, leading to a final choice. But in the battle for purity, the desire for sinful gratification is so powerful that is twists all reasoning around it, a moral gravity well in a field of decisions. The actual decision-making process is much more simple in the case of moral purity– to sin or not to sin– but we’ve essentially made up our mind before we begin. Conversations with darkness end in darkness. Sin is a much better orator than you and will have you emptying your pockets when the plate is passed if you will only incline your ear for a second. If you and I were truly capable of rational thought in this matter there would be no problem; we aren’t, however, and so there is.
In the trenches, this means that when temptations to sin come, we need to make our decision first and reinforce that decision with preconceived reasoning. By this, I mean reasoning established in lucid moments; the rational equivalent to muscle memory. Medics, police, firefighters, another other emergency response personnel drill over and over again so that, in an emergency, they will respond appropriately on instinct. We must do the same. It does no good, in the heat of battle, to ask yourself whether or not thus and such a sin is a good thing to engage in; you’ve already decided that it is. No, at that moment you must repeatedly tell yourself that sin is sin, and reach for arguments for purity which you, in a time of holy lucidity, have laid near to hand. These “weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7) must be mastered on the training ground, or we will never reach for them in a skirmish. This is what the word is for: “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It is in this way that you will know what to do when temptation knocks.