Wednesday, January 30, 2019

“For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (2 Peter 2:19b)

   The Bible teaches that we are slaves to influences we cannot free ourselves from; bad habits and practices that have kept us bound indefinitely. Our eyes have to be opened to these ‘gates,’ which are entry points that damage our characters; gates through which the evil one cunningly gains entrance and takes residence. Before we know it, he is cosily entrenched, becoming the ‘strong man’ that is occupying space in our earthly residence – our bodies.

   We therefore must do everything possible--and urgently at that--to release ourselves from such a sinister grip before it matures into a stronghold. Most of these ‘influences’ that have kept us in bondage started as a fancy, trend or fashion that was nurtured early in life. For others, it started as a curiosity that we have been drawn to, that has taken hold and no matter how hard we have tried to rid ourselves of them, they have refused to vacate the premises.

   The good news is that there is a cure, there is a remedy; something to shake it off. Anything that has a name, no matter what you call it, will bow to the name of a more powerful force. And that name is Jesus. “For God has exalted Him to the highest place and [has given] Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

   As a youngster, never make sin a pastime for it will develop roots and take residence to later on resist eviction. If we are not careful, it will kill us in the long or short run. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)                 Satan uses baits and snares particularly through the medium of an innocent source of pleasure that we are flirting with; he does not come to you directly or openly to lure you into sin. No! Each time we sin, we give the devil a ticket and licence to run our lives – on the doom mode.

   Didn’t Adam and Eve derive pleasure from eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden in which God had put them with the clear instruction not to eat of it? Didn’t he use craft to get them to disobey God? “When you eat of it you will not die,” he said to the couple. Did they die instantly? No, they did not. Herein lies the trap. Physically speaking, they did not die; but spiritually their disobedience meant death which in other terms is ‘separation.’ When the couple had eaten of the fruit, was the serpent anywhere around them still? He must have been having a ball, rejoicing over what we consider a false victory which God would turn over in His restoration bid for humankind.

   Sin has a tendency to stick because of the pleasure derived from it.

But let us be wary as it will burrow into our beings like a cankerworm, steadily eating into its very fabric until like a stranglehold we are choked.

   Sin is sweet, but it is equally fleeting. After a time, it would leave us with a bitter taste in our mouths. That is when the reality of the pleasure has transitioned into guilt.

   Who has not indulged in sin? The Bible states categorically that it is the one who sins who will die. “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) Oftentimes, we are drawn to such negative influences by a close friend who in the first instance did not mean any harm. At other times, sin gains entry through the ‘eye gate,’ by this I mean, what we are exposed to, what our eyes have seen.

   Very often, in defence of our sins we claim that no visible harm has been done. But sin is sin, whatever form it takes, and it should be condemned and confessed in order to be forgiven. In real life, a bad apple or potato will continue to rot until it leaves a malodorous smell in the air. It is no different with humans, when we indulge in sin. It escalates, and the deterioration process begins. The effect on the sinner becomes intolerable. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

   King Solomon was quick to observe that “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Many there are who still toy with sin because they have not been caught or exposed. The Bible warns that “He who conceals his/her sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”(Proverbs 28:13)

   When we sin, the greatest harm is being done to ourselves. We have a tendency to categorise sin as lying, theft, alcohol, sex, drugs or smoking; but there are less evident faces of sin that can wreck irreparable damage to our being. As they may not be easily visible, they become entrenched with time. Then they can get to an irreversible stage, and could to varying degrees hurt others. Such sins are varied and range from anger, hate, uncontrolled bursts of temper, gossip, backbiting or character assassination, misplaced pride, unbelief, doubt, hypocrisy, pretence and loving the world with all its vices.

   Christ came to set us free from all these labels the devil has thrust on us. He came to release us from every shackle the devil has fettered us with. At the cross, He proclaimed “It is finished!” Satan has no power over us – not anymore – except we let him. Satan is a defeated foe. Our Lord Jesus bought our freedom with a price – His blood and a sinless life.

   With God everything is possible. He has done it for me; He can do it for YOU.