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This one is true. True, but sad.

The prodigal boy's itinerary listed "far country" and maybe under that, "beaches, bars, and brothels." He probably never read the very fine print that had "pig farm" (Luke 15:11-32). His "summer trip" took him farther than he intended to go. Once you board sin's boat, it can be awfully hard to disembark.
Ask Jonah.

God told Jonah to go east to preach in Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire (Jonah 1:1-2).  Jonah went west to hide in Tarshish, a city in southwestern Spain (1:3). When he got on that boat, he had no idea how far sin was going to take him. God sent a storm and nearly sank the ship. The mariners discovered that Jonah was running from God and threw him overboard. Stop and think. What was that like? Jonah described it, "For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me" (2:3). Drowning is a horrible way to die; to nearly drown is one of the most frightening experiences one can have. Why is Jonah in the water? Sin is taking him farther than he wanted to go.

Instead or drowning, though, the LORD sent a great fish to eat   Jonah (1:17). Imagine what it felt like to be eaten by a fish! Why are you in the fish, Jonah? Sin. Down he went to the sea bottom (2:6). Why are you there, Jonah? Sin. For seventy-two hours Jonah was in a fish's digestive system! What did it feel like? What did it smell like? "The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head" (2:5).

Finally God decided class was over and had the fish vomit (God's word, 2:10) Jonah out onto land. What did it feel like to be human vomit? What made Jonah the only person ever to find out? Sin. What did Jonah learn? Sin will take you farther than you want to go.

What does Jonah teach us about taking a trip into sin? First, it is easy to book passage. Jonah didn't have to wait for a ship going to Tarshish—the devil had it ready for him (1:3). Satan keeps "boats at the dock" for anybody wanting to sail to "Tarshish" (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 5:8). Sin always lies "at the door" (Genesis 4:7). It is a wide gate that leads to the broad road (Matthew 7:13). If you remain true to God, it won't be because you lacked opportunities to sin; it will be because you had the backbone to say "no" to sin and had faith to say "yes" to God—frequently. 

What "boats" does Satan keep ready?  Teens heading to "Tarshish" find that being underage is no real hindrance to buying beer or cigarettes—an older friend will get these items for them or an unscrupulous business man will sell them "under the table" (Proverbs 1:19).

If they want to tell dirty jokes, there are plenty of people who will laugh (cf. Romans 1:32).  If they want to go places and do things their parents forbid, they find that friends will lie to their parents for them (cf. Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:2).

If they want to do drugs, it is not hard to find someone who can get whatever they want (for a price). It's so easy to find drugs that about twenty-five teens start using every hour of every day of every year in America.

If teens want to start a sexual relationship, most don't have to look far to find a willing partner (Proverbs 9:14-16).

Second, sin is progressive. It's a slide down a slippery slope that goes down, down, down. We are told to "live it nn"—that's a lie. The road into the "far country" is always downhill. Jonah went "down" to Joppa, "down" into the ship (1:3) "down" into the sea, "down" into the fish's mouth, and "down" to the sea bottom. Think of sin's downward progression:  ' Walking with the ungodly leads to standing with sinners; standing with sinners leads to sitting with the scornful (Psalm 1:1; Matthew 26:58, 69-75).  —wrath leads to hatred; hatred leads to murder (Genesis 4:6, 8; Proverbs 27:3; Daniel 2:12; 1 John 3:15).

Jealousy and envy lead to cruelty, slander, and vengeance (Proverbs 6:34; 27:4; Song of Solomon 8:6; Judges 19:29-30). 

Disobedience to parents leads to lying to parents (Romans 1:30; Ephesians 4:15; cf. Genesis 26:7; Colossians 3:9).

One lie leads to more lies (cf. John 8:44).

Covetousness leads to stealing and violence (Joshua 7:21; 1 Kings 21:1, 15; Micah 2:1-2; Mark 7:22; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Peter 2:3).

R-rated movies lead to X-rated movies; soft-core porn leads to hard-core (Matthew 5:28; 1 Peter 2:11); pornography leads to rape and child molestation.

Immodest dress and behavior lead to lust which leads to fornication (Matthew 5:28; 1 Timothy 6:18); dancing and petting lead to sexual sins (cf. Galatians 5:19-21).

Unnatural thoughts lead to homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27; cf. Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22; Judges 19:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 7, 10); homosexuality may lead to pedophilia (child rape/molestation).

Smoking cigarettes often leads to smoking marijuana (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); smoking marijuana leads to harder drugs (Romans 6:13).

Third, a sinful life is a turbulent life. Jonah found himself in a storm. It usually doesn't take long for teens who forsake Christ to find turmoil (Proverbs 4:19; 15:10; Jeremiah 2:19; Romans 6:21).

The Bible's fish story is true just as true now as it was twenty-seven centuries ago.-

House to House
Volume 10, Number 2