Sunday, September 16, 2007

September 16, 2007

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8

SIN. It is subtle. Our enemy uses it to trip us up every single day. We must be alert to his devices lest we fall prey to it. His goal is to "steal, to kill and to destroy." He will use every method possible to accomplish his goal.

Sin often follows a pattern of degrees. It is kind of like cooking a frog. You put a live frog into a pot of boiling water and slowly increase the temperature. He doesn't realize he's cooked until it's too late.

Psalm 1:1 describes this progression beautifully:

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful."

Whenever I read this verse I think of Bourbon Street, in New Orleans. I've only been there once, but it left a lasting impression on me. We had only been married a year or so when we visited our good friends from college who were living in New Orleans at the time. We went to see it during the day first. Then we noticed the beautiful French architecture and tasted wonderful baklava at a nearby bakery. But, that night we went back to see the REAL Bourbon Street we had always heard about. It was like walking into a totally different world. This small town girl had never seen anything like it...and that was in the 70's!

The music was loud. Doors to the bars and other "establishments" were open and there were people at the door who would entice you to come in. Some would just walk on by, others would stop and peek inside, and others would accept the invitation and enter in.

And that is just the scene Psalm 1:1 describes...the progression of sin. First you are just walking along, minding your own business. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a sin is there, waving to you, calling out to you, enticing you with all of its allures. Subtly at first. As an old country song says "I never knew the Devil would have blue eyes and blue jeans". If you are unaware, you will stop and contemplate what is before you. Maybe you will just "sample" what is presented or take a peek, like the folks stopping on Bourbon Street out of curiosity. But, often if you linger, soon, you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of it, pulled up at the table and making yourself comfortable in something you should have never indulged in. It can happen to any of us, even godly Christians. It did to Lot.

Lot was Abraham's nephew. When God called Abram (as he was first known) out of Ur, he took Lot with him. They were both very wealthy and had many flocks and herds. At one point, Abram told Lot that they needed to part to keep peace in the family. Their herdsmen had a great conflict between them, and lest it cause a rift in the family, Abram decided it was better if he went one way and Lot went another. Abram gave Lot first choice of where he wanted to go. "Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan....and journeyed east." (Gen. 13:12)

But the very next sentence sets the scene of Psalm 1:1:

"and [Lot] pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13: 12) So what's the big deal you wonder? Read on to verse 13, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly."

Do you get the picture? Lot CHOSE to pitch his tent just outside of Bourbon Street...uh....Sodom. Now read on....a few years later, there is a war with neighboring tribes and in the midst of this, Sodom and Gomorrah were attacked. "And they [the attackers] took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom.." Genesis 14:12. Did you notice Lot's change of address? First he was just on the he has moved in. But that is not the end of the story. Some years later, God appears to Abram and tells him he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their great wickedness. Abram pleads for them, asking the Lord to spare them if there are even 10 righteous people there....but there weren't even 10. So we pick up the story in Genesis 19:1 "And there came two angels to Sodom at evening; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom..." Those who "sat in the gate" of a city were its leaders.

Lot went from parking just outside the gate, to dwelling in the city to becoming a leader of one of the most wicked cities ever mentioned in the wicked that God totally destroyed it off the face of the earth! That is the progression of sin. Walking by...stopping to look [standing] and then sitting down in the midst of it.

God knows this. He understands we are but flesh and that we are weak. So he provides a way of escape. I Corinthians 10:13 tell us "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able [to withstand], but, with the temptation, will also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it." God always provide an the sin Satan puts before us. It is our choice to yield to Satan or to yield to God. Each day we are faced with temptations throughout our day...some big and some small, but temptations nonetheless. We must be as alert as the lion, so that we will not be overcome.

Staying in the Word is how we do that. It shows us where we should walk, how we should talk, how to handle the situations that arise in our life. It strengthens us, gives us courage to endure, makes us wise and teaches us about our adversary. No soldier goes into battle without knowing his opponent and being knowledgeable of his weapons and tactics. The Word of God is your battle manual. It's a jungle out there! Read it, be equipped and don't fall prey to the lion!!

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