"If you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire
If the three sisters of grace are faith, hope, and love, we may also say the three sisters of the flesh are sex, power, and money.
Years ago, I was warned about these sisters of the flesh.
We are all constituted differently in body and soul. And our natural constitutions fuel particular lusts, since the soul and body bear an organic relation to each another. Moreover, the social standing of a person also has implications for the types of sins he commits: those who are wealthy are prone to certain sins; those who are poor are prone to other sins. Those with great intellects are also prone to pride. Parents should be careful before they dub their child the next Einstein.
Certain sins are more prevalent at different stages of life. A child possesses a heart that will be prone to certain sins only later in life. Moreover, the lusts of individuals are drawn out according to their various callings. Judas stole because he was a sinner, but also because as treasurer he was presented with an easy opportunity to steal.
To answer the objection that certain sins are contrary to each other and so men are not given to all types of covetousness, Thomas Goodwin explains that people are inclined to different sins at different stages in their lives. So the prodigal youth may become covetous in his old age. It is also true that some people have an antipathy to certain sins, but this antipathy is not moral but physical, "either because their bodies will not bear it, or for some other incommodity they find in it" (Goodwin). A hypochondriac may not visit a prostitute for fear of disease, instead of fear of God.
The temptation for David to have Bathsheba was heightened by the fact that he could have Bathsheba. That temptation for lust was obviously different for David when he was old and dying. If we could have any woman we wanted, we would probably struggle a lot more with sexual temptation than we do. The good-looking quarterback at University usually has greater temptations with women than the assistant captain of the chess team.
Perhaps we should thank God right now that we aren't particularly handsome or beautiful; we might thank God that we haven't enjoyed too many successes; we may find out one day that he kept us poor (or relatively average-looking) in order to save us and keep us from many sins.
We may not think money is a temptation until the door to money opens just a little bit. Soon, like a lion tasting blood for the first time, the door has swung wide open, our pockets begin to be filled by those who want to control us, and we are helpless to stop the rot that has taken place. All of this is to say, we don't know how much we love money until it actually becomes a real temptation. Be warned: those who give you money are likely also to control you in some way. And then you are quickly unable to criticize them in any way, shape, or form. You become increasingly blind, like the idols you serve (Ps. 115). I am glad that my employer is the local church and that no organization has control over me because they pay me a lot of money.
We may not think we love power until we get a taste of power. Everything I've seen so far in Reformed circles has only convinced me that not only does money corrupt, but power corrupts even more. Indeed, the more money the more power. Those in power can quickly cultivate a culture of fear. As Voltaire said, "if you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize." I think some of us might find that a very uncomfortable examination.
M'Cheyne once said well: "The seeds of all sins are in my heart, and perhaps all the more dangerously that I do not see them." Imagine having friends who will actually challenge you and tell you that you're being stupid!
It's been a while since I've quoted Nacho Libre, but I think the honor in this clip goes to Esqueleto.