What I learned about Sin and Temptation from the Cooper Hill’s Cheese Roll Competition

When a Christian succumbs to temptation, it’s not like stepping off a cliff. It’s more like what happens at the Cooper Hill’s Cheese Rolling Competition. It’s running down the slippery slope after a meaningless prize that doesn’t end well.

Last week thousands of spectators and daring competitors descended upon Gloucestershire, England’s Cooper’s Hill for the traditional Cheese Rolling event that has occurred since the 1800s. The slope of Cooper’s Hill is so steep that very few contestants manage to stay on their feet, instead tumbling head-over-heels down the 200-yard-slope in a desperate effort to catch the coveted dairy prize – a weighty 8lb Double Gloucester. While the cheese can never actually be caught – with a brief head start, it soon reaches breakneck speeds – the Cheese Rolling winner is the first person to roll, run, or fall across the line at the bottom of the hill. Most of the people don’t make it down Cooper’s Hill unscathed. One year 33 competitors were treated for everything from splinters to broken bones!

How is this craziness like a Christian’s fall into sin?

A Christian doesn’t sign-up for sinful behavior like a competitor registering in the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll. There may be some thought of the consequences, but often not a lot. But neither does one fall into sin with an unknown or unlucky leap off a cliff. More often, sin begins as a simple meander down a destructive trail that the Christian knows is not good (the Holy Spirit is CERTAIN to issue a warning). They wander off anyway. Like at Cooper’s Hill, those falling into the Enemy’s trap start down the hill picking up speed as they chase after the meaningless temptation (usually not much more valuable than an 8lb. chunk of cheese). Very quickly, the misdirected Christian’s pace turns into a tumbling, bumbling, breakneck-impossible dive. Like what is known by the waiting ambulances at the bottom of Cooper’s Hill, a crash is inevitable. 

When gazing onto temptation’s slippery slope and dreaming of obtaining some not-much-better-than-cheese prize, the Enemy fails to tell that the “prize” stinks and the dangers are certain. They Enemy doesn’t tell of the heartaches and pain. Even if never found out, even if the Christian’s secret foray down this slippery slope stays secret, is the “prize” worth it? Instead of pleasure, riches or fame only guilt and hidden shame are the result. Living a lie is no “prize.”

I was not injured at the Cheese Roll Competition on Cooper’s Hill. Of course not, I was thousands of miles and an ocean away, sitting in my living room. I cannot fall down Cooper’s Hill if I am nowhere near it. It’s the same with sin’s slippery slopes. If you never enter the temptation’s downward grade, you can never be its prey. Don’t even start down the trial. Don’t look at the slope. Don’t rationalize the thrills. Don’t scheme on how it might be done. Listen to the Spirit and stay away. Stay far way. Stay an ocean away if possible.

Of course, you know all of this. You already know about the “slippery slopes” of sin, don’t you? You’ve heard plenty of sermons on the topic. Me too. So why tell you again? Because a friend of mine found out the hard way this week. He knew all about temptations, slippery slopes and falling into sin. He knew it all and went down the trail anyway. Some people are forever wounded. His life is wrecked. His family destroyed. The Enemy left that part of the story out too.