When I was a kid I remember doing this fire drill in a huge building filled with fake smoke and a fake fire. We dropped to our knees, put our heads down, and on hands and knees, followed the person in front to the nearest exit. The experience itself was to prepare us just in case we encountered a real fire. And just as in the assimilated fire, in a real fire it is rather hard to look ahead for the escape even if the nearest person to you is only a few feet away.
Those few feet can feel like an eternity.
The smoke itself tends to cloud your vision and you can sort of blindly be crawling, hoping you are going in the right direction towards the exit.
That’s how I’ve felt this past week.
I found myself in a cloudy, smoky, room with hidden exits. The only difference is, I did not necessarily want to take the exits, even if I could find them. And even worse, I had started the fire myself. The funny thing about temptation is that when you haven’t faced it in a while, you tend to forget how really hard it is to resist (BTW this is pride causing you to forget). You forget the false sensations it provides, the exhilaration, the excitement, and the ridiculous doubleminded-ness that sets in once you give in. That doubleminded-ness proved to be my own worst enemy. I could have moments of clarity, see through the haze of smoke that was attempting to disillusion me into enticement and then everything would go blurry again. I could make a very sound, very sober, very intelligent decision concerning my own well-being, and then doubt that decision within minutes of making it (a doubleminded man is truly unstable in all his ways).
That is the effect of sin.
Sin has the power to draw one in and plant seeds of falsehood in the minds and beliefs of its’ victims. As a man thinketh in his heart…so is he. If a man does not believe there is hope, he will conduct himself in a way of hopelessness. If a man thinks he is of little worth, he will not treat himself as if he is valuable. And just as in the garden, one little bite of its’ seemingly sweet fruit can unravel a world of chaos in the life of a believer. You can think you will only take one small bite, but the reality is all of a sudden a ravenous appetite for that fruit will take you over and you will no longer even recognize yourself. You are unrecognizable because the “false you” is now operating. There is an “eternal, real you” who sits in heavenly places and has been cleansed and made perfect by the blood of Christ. Then there is a “false you” which is bogged down by generational curses, familiar spirits and exists a part from the cleansing blood of Christ (the you before Jesus). This false you looks like you but they do not act like you. They act under the illusionment and power of sin. Their behavior is contrary to their normal way of functioning and anyone who knows them knows that they are “off”. A person strung out on drugs or alcohol is a great example of this as any type of addiction can alter the function and personality of the user. As with someone on drugs, it won’t be long until the user is strong out and has sabotaged every opportunity for sobriety in hopes of getting that next “hit”.
But thankfully, Christ always provides a way of escape.
Even if one has already eaten the fruit…even if one is already “strung out”. He just keeps providing a way of escape. I found myself presented with many a way of escape. Every time I was in need of one, it was there. I was faced with key moments when I knew that I needed to make a decision that could either harm me or help me. Many times I made the wrong one and even after making that wrong one, guess what He did? He provided yet another way out.
His mercy endures forever. His love endures forever. His grace is enough for all of the sin in the world.
There is no condemnation in Him. He doesn’t judge us based on our sin because all He sees is the precious blood that His Son shed while nailed to the cross for 6 grueling hours. His blood was enough. No matter how much power sin appears to have, His blood has more.
My encouragement to you is that during those moments of clarity, even if they are only fleeting, make a sound decision. That sound decision could be your way of escape. If you’ve left your family for a life of sin, if you’ve given in full fledge to those homosexual desires that have been haunting you since childhood, if you’ve acted just as the prodigal did and have now found yourself with the pigs eating sloth, it’s never too late.
As long as there is breath in your lungs, there is purpose for your life.
Christ’s redeeming blood will redeem the time you lost when you were not in your right mind. And just as he did with the man taken over by a legion of demons, he will put you in your right mind, clothe you with His glory and give you beauty for ashes. I know this by experience. And He is no respecter of persons…