Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Slow Fade of Sin ~ Part 2

by Charity Pence

Sin has been a part of our world from the beginning.  Satan enticed Eve to eat forbidden fruit, and she in turn enticed Adam to eat.  Genesis 3:6 says, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate."  By reading the entire passage we see what really happened there.  Satan fooled Eve.  He knew what would happen once she ate of the tree.  But did he share that information? Of course not.  Instead, he showed her all the great things the fruit had to offer, nothing else.  You know something? Satan still operates the same way today.  "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8.

Sin is deceiving.  Sin often looks pleasant; we believe it will make us feel good or bring about something beneficial.  The path of destruction runs far, however.  The lustful thought that turns into an affair can destroy a marriage.  A lie at work or an immoral business decision forces one out of work which may lead to bankruptcy or prison.  An addiction destroys the one addicted and those around him/her.  There are consequences for our sins.  The consequence we should be most concerned with, though, is the separation from God sin brings about if we let it.

Are you ready for the good news? Romans chapter 6 can be difficult to grasp, but it is worth reading.  Verse 14, one of my favorites from this chapter, offers the following assurance: "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  Throughout the chapter, we come to see that by believing Jesus to be our Savior, accepting what He has done for us, and turning our lives over to Him, we are set free from the curse of sin.  That is wonderful news! It means sin has no power over us unless we give in to Satan.

In order to deflect Satan's attacks, we must protect ourselves.  How? By putting on the armor of God.  Gird your waist with truth.  Put on the breastplate of righteousness.  Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.  Take the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.  (See Ephesians 6:11-20)

Keeping a close relationship with our Heavenly Father offers the best protection.  "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10.  God offers His strength to us so we can resist temptations.  But we have to strive to remain close to Him.  And when we do mess up, we must repent.  God forgives us when we admit our wrongs.  "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18.

God loves us, and I hope you understand how much.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believer in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16.  1 John 4:10 further states, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation of our sins."  God's love is nothing short of amazing.  After all, He not only knew how sin would entice us but also prepared a way for us to still enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.  Hallelujah!

Still looking for instruction? Open your Bible.  God's Word is filled with instruction and knowledge.  The Bible is not just a book of stories or information.  It's a journey.  One which will take you directly to your Heavenly Father and away from sin.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us all to get this, to take this message to heart.  Show us where we have taken the wrong steps.  Convict us and show us Your truth.  Cover us with your security so that the devil's attacks bounce away harmlessly.  You have sacrificed your son for us.  Help us to understand how powerful your love for us.  Thank You for never forsaking us.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Slow Fade of Sin ~ Part 1

by Charity Pence

I love the song "Slow Fade" performed by Casting Crowns.  Each time I listen to this song, I am reminded of how quickly, and sometimes unintentionally, we can slip into sin.  Reflect for a moment on the following lyrics:

It's a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It's a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

And thoughts invade, choices are made
A price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just may be sinking

The path to sin may sometimes be like a fork in the road.  There are two clear directions we may go, and we make a conscious choice.  However, more often sin is like a road that gradually takes us further and further from our Heavenly Father.  We start on the path with what we believe to be a minor sin.  But the longer we travel that road, the more comfortable we become with that sin.  And then the sin grows into something bigger.  Before we realize what happened, we've travelled so far from where we began, we cannot see where we started. 

It's like a thought, or a fantasy.  We toy with an idea we know is wrong, but we let it play in our minds until we're comfortable.  And as the lyrics say, "the journey from your mind to your hands is shorter than you're thinking."  Thoughts become actions. 

It's like a lie, or an omission of the truth.  We get used to leaving out certain details until we suddenly find ourselves telling flat out lies.  Yet it isn't sudden.  It's a process we've allowed to take place.

The slow fade can take place with any sin.  A glimpse at an indecent photo can lead to an addiction to pornography.  "Playing around" with a particular substance such as alcohol or drugs can lead us to require more and more of the substance to be satisfied.  And as our lives begin to crumble, we wonder how we came so far.

Proverbs 5:21-23 offers the following warning: "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.  His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.  He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray."

We need to realize how serious the slow fade of sin can be.  However, we are not without hope.  We are not lacking in instruction.  We are not destined to go astray.  Our Heavenly Father who loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves has given us His Word; that is where we find instruction.  And in God, we find strength to resist temptation.  "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you.  Because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength."  Psalm 26:3, 4.

Dear Heavenly Father, how easily and quickly we allow ourselves to stray when we do not keep our hearts and minds on You.  Please forgive us the sins we've allowed ourselves to grow comfortable with.  Help us to see what we are doing.  Convict us when sin, regardless of how trivial we may think it is, tempts us.  Give us strength to prevent ourselves from straying further away from you.  We need you, Lord.  I need You.  Thank You for never forsaking us.  Help us to reflect on this message and to understand the consequences we may face if we do not turn away from the path we've chosen.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Part 2 will be posted next week.  What to expect:
~How a close relationship of God protects us
~How to guard ourselves from the evil of Sin
~How to use God's word as daily instruction
~The importance of repentance
~God's great, never ending love for us