Last night, along with several million people across the country and perhaps around the world, I watched the series finale of the popular television series “Breaking Bad”. A five season series—an era—came to an end last night. For those of you who are not familiar with this show (and I’m assuming there are few of you), let me give you a brief synopsis. The show revolves around a high school chemistry teacher (Walter, a.k.a. “Heisenberg”) who was given the very unfortunate news in the beginning of season one that he had cancer. Appearing the victim, Walter turns to a very illegal but rather lucrative business of making and selling METH. Throughout nearly the entire life of the show, he justifies his moral and ethical decline as a means to support his family after cancer takes his life. What began as desperation to meet his needs, slowly but surely turns ugly as greed and the desire for power overtake every aspect of Walter’s life, resulting in many lives lost and ultimately the breakdown of his own family. Of course I’ve spared you from many of the details that make a drama such as this one so tremendously addicting and popular, but you now have the important pieces, which leads me to the purpose of this blog post.
“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15 (NLT)
These verses could not be summed up better than from one of Walter’s closing lines. Up until the finale, he has maintained his position that his actions are justified by the fact that he is providing for his family’s future. The making and selling of drugs and all of the ugly residue that resulted from it was done under this justification. Not until this final episode did he come clean with himself and confess with rare honesty his heart’s truest motive in his final conversation with his wife, Skyler—“I did it for me. I liked it.”
From the very first episode, one might be able to conclude that this poor, unfortunate soul (Walter) had little to no choice but to pursue such a livelihood. I’m here to suggest to you today that this is simply not the case. How many times have you heard the expression “falling into sin”? Countless times? Yeah, that sounds about right. However, I would submit to you today that you and I do not fall into sin; we walk into it. We make a conscious choice each and every time we choose sin over righteousness. Every time we choose to sin, we inevitably choose to suffer. One of the things that struck me most about Walter in this final episode was the hopelessness that filled his eyes. He had completely train-wrecked his life because he insisted on pursuing money and the power that it seemed to afford him. Still, the truth always comes out, even if at the very end. Even his seemingly honorable actions in the finale (giving the millions of dollars to his son, rescuing Jesse) were surrounded by hate and revenge towards others.
Back to my main point: We don’t fall into sin; we walk into it. Make no mistake about it. Every sin that exists in your life, past or present, was welcomed in by you. Perhaps the aspect I loved most about this show was how well it portrayed this truth. You don’t “handle” sin; rather it handles you. And why is this? Because sin over-promises and will always under-deliver. Sometimes, we need a show like “Breaking Bad” to illuminate these truths to us. For five seasons, we watched the slow but steady decline of a man’s life, and it ultimately ended (spoiler alert!) in his own death. A great show. A fitting end.