|HE SHRILL RINGING OF MY CELL PHONE SHOOK ME OUT OF THE DISTURBING world of Jesuit priests, Freemasonry, and the mark of the beast being painted by Adventist professor Walter J. Veith on my television screen. It was just a few minutes after midnight following a late day at work, and I was watching a Revelation seminar with an open Bible in my Moscow apartment.
No one calls me at that hour, so I wondered who might be at the other end. Picking up the phone, I looked curiously at the incoming number. Instead of a number or the familiar name of a friend, an ominous message stared back at me: “Private.”
I answered and heard an unfamiliar male voice say, “Hi Andy, this is Sin.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I wondered how sin had found me, and how he actually knew my name. I marveled that sin had a distinct North American accent. Then I decided that I had better double-check my hearing.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“It’s me, Sin,” the voice replied.
I still couldn’t believe it. Was someone playing a joke on me?
“Who?” I said.
“Sin,” the voice said.
I paused. This couldn’t be happening.
“Who?” I said yet again.
“Andy,” the voice said with a thin trace of exasperation, “it’s Sin, Sin Johnson.”
Then I realized the voice wasn’t saying “Sin” but “Finn.” Finn Johnson* was a new colleague from work, and he had a question about obtaining his new Russian visa. Finn was calling from the United States, therefore the lack of a caller ID on my cell phone and the unusually late hour of the call.
After my heartbeat returned to normal, I began to wonder how often sin comes calling and I stay around trying to figure out whether it’s for real. What I should do is hang up straightaway, because the longer I linger on the devil’s territory, the more likely I am to fall.
Think of it this way: An alcoholic should boycott bars. An obese person should avoid loitering around the refrigerator and fast-food restaurants. A person attracted to pornography should stay away from the Internet, and possibly the computer as well.
Physical places are not the only tempting grounds. Temptation starts in the mind, so our thoughts will wander quickly into the devil’s territory if we are not careful. Now I certainly have no say about how other people talk or dress. I cannot dictate the images on billboards or in shop windows. But with God’s help I can control how long I think about what I see and hear. I can decide whether I will let my mind dwell on sin, or instead embrace thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (see Phil. 4:8).
The apostle Paul is unequivocal in his advice about flirting with sin: “Flee!”
“Flee from sexual immorality,” he says. “Flee from idolatry.” “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14; 2 Tim. 2:22).
I want to be among those who call on Jesus out of a pure heart, not spending my time trying to determine if sin really knows my name.
I told Finn that the next time he calls he had better identify himself by his first and last name. Or I’m hanging up.
*Last name changed.
Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published February 25, 2010.