Thursday, January 10, 2008

Temptation Is a Subtle Thing

Have you ever known someone who was once on fire for God, then fell hard or walked away? Without getting into complicated theological debates about “eternal security” or “loss of salvation,” it's impossible to deny that some people have gone, in a decade or less, from "I would willingly die for Christ" to "I don't even think there is a God."

Sometimes it's a crushing disappointment or tragedy that does in their faith. But often they fall away bit by bit: first a Christian willfully if reluctantly decides to do some "little thing" he knows is against God's will; then he rationalizes, "One more time won't hurt"; then the "one more times" mount until he is doing it so regularly that his conscience has shut up and he has plenty of excuses ("God wants me to be happy" is a favorite) if challenged on his actions. It's a short step from there to explaining away those passages in the Bible that contradict his behavior, and from there to discounting the relevance of God Himself.

The best way to keep from starting on this slippery slope is to first get rid of the pride that says, "I'm so spiritually mature I'll probably never sin again," and then to commit ourselves to regular self-examination, preferably with the aid of a strong Christian friend or mentor. Sin is like cancer: its roots get into us through some seemingly innocuous piece of everyday life; it can grow big enough to kill before we even suspect its presence; and the best way to root it out is to catch it early.

An even better approach is to recognize and head off temptation before it has a chance to become sin.

Temptation is a subtle thing:
It comes before we know;
It infiltrates in tiny seeds
That like the kudzu grow.

Temptation is a subtle thing:
It comes before we see,
And weaves its threads to iron chains
And thus enslaves the free.

Temptation is a subtle thing:
It strikes in times of need;
It strikes in our prosperity;
It taints each thought and deed.

Temptation is a subtle thing:
It paints as good our sin,
And makes us prisoners in a war
That only God can win.

Temptation is a subtle thing
We are too weak to fight,
So let us find our strength in God,
And conquer through His might.

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