An Inside Job
Every sin is an inside job.
As creatures made in God’s image, we have all kinds of desires, and our desires are not necessarily bad. As a result of the fall, though, all of our longings have an amazing potential for evil. Even God-given desires can be distorted and used for wickedness.
We are masters at explaining away our propensity for evil as the fault of the devil, our peers, our heredity, or our environment. Scripture, though, says that we are tempted by our own desires. For all of us, the temptation to disobey God and indulge our desires, whether those desires are evil or distorted, emerges from within.
The devil may come and entice us, but only we make the decision to disobey. Jesus made this perfectly clear: “What comes out of a person is what defiles him” (Mark 7:20). Every temptation comes to us when we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires. And temptation, when succumbed to, eventually leads to death.
Temptation’s allure is seen so clearly in the folly of fish. They see bait; it shines and it sparkles; they go for it—and they get hooked! If the bait is attractive and appealing enough, fish cannot ignore the hook.
Are we really much brighter than fish? If the bait looks pleasing, we try to convince ourselves that there is no hook there. But the hook is there. “Sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” The road of sin leads to the destination of judgment, and on the way it marks our lives in ways that time will never erase—though, in His mercy, God can redeem even these.
As long as we live on this earth, we will never be exempt from temptation. In Genesis, God warns Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). This is a telling picture: sin is always waiting inside us, ever ready to pounce upon us.
Be determined, then, to deal with every encroaching advancement of sin. It’s a daily battle. Today, refuse to allow your eyes to wander to, your mind to contemplate, or your affections to run after anything which draws you away from Christ. How? By learning to question your desires, asking, “Is this a godly desire I should feed or a sinful desire I should fight?” And learn to wear the armor of God: to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). For it is in your faith in God’s Son as your Ruler and your Rescuer that you find both power to stand firm and forgiveness when you fall.
Warning Against Idolatry
1For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,1 that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown2 in the wilderness.
6Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ3 to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
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