18. Living With a Secret Sin
When I decided to write this book, I felt I had to include in it a chapter that related some of the lessons I have learned about sin. There are some things about sin that I did not really know or understand until my own failings took place. Many of these things were not made aware to me until my failings had come to light, and I was forced to face the reality of what I had done.
I decided to call this chapter the darker side of sin because I believe there is a side of sin that only is revealed from walking through the valley of recovery or restoration. It is the side of sin that most people are never forced to know, but it is a side that may help others avoid some of the mistakes I made.
There are so many things about sin that we do not understand. I have often wondered if I will ever comprehend just how terrible sin really is. Even after walking on the darker side of sin, there remains in me a belief that there are some things about sin that are so terrible, that I will never fully know them.
I have felt the pain of a small burn, but I have never gone through the excruciating suffering of having been burned over a large portion of my body. That is an experience that only a few individuals will know, and try as they might, they can never fully describe to others the severity of their experience.
Most of us fear fire for what we think it will do to us, but there are those who fear it because they have experienced it firsthand. There are lessons about fire that they could teach the rest of us that come from what they suffered.
The same is true about sin. My experiences are only a tip of the iceberg of the awfulness of what sin can do to someone. Sin is more horrible than most of us will ever know, thank God. It is so awful that there is a place reserved, called hell, where those who have not had their sins atoned for, must spend eternity, separated from God. It is so awful, that it required the ultimate sacrifice on the part of God the Father in sending His Son to die for and pay for our sins in order for man to be restored to fellowship with Him.
There is a darker side to sin that if we understood it, would cause us all to be more fearful of allowing it into our lives in any way, shape or form. I know a little of that darker side, and hope that I will never again allow myself to be thrust into its realm. Let me share with you some of what I have learned that I trust will help you to avoid experiencing the darker side of sin. These are lessons about sin that are meant not to tell you about sin, but to warn you of how to avoid the terrible pain sin brings.
Most importantly, they are lessons about how sin gets into the lives of believers and threatens to destroy all that have done or will do for God. I know, because it happened to me.
1. Sin is much more subtle than most of us realize. It is tragic but true that most of us warm ourselves at the fires of sin thinking that we will never get close enough to get burned. Just as most of us have a fascination with fire that causes us to be drawn to experimenting with it, many of us have that same fascination with sin that makes us much more curious than we ought to be. How else do you explain the popularity of watching people commit sins on television, or reading about them in novels, that we know are wrong.
I am talking about most Christians. We are guilty of a curiosity that brings us dangerously close to things that are capable of causing terrible destruction in our lives. Most Christians are as casual about sin as they are about a campfire. We get close to it, think it is pretty, yet realize that we do not want to get in the middle of it, lest we get burned. We romanticize sin just as much as the world does, and then we wonder how we got lured into its flame.
The problem is not just among our teenagers. It is predominantly among the adults. We worry about our teenagers getting too close to the same fire that we stand around the edges and observe. The greatest problem with our young people are the parents who have become casual about sin, and failed to instill a fear in their children by their own example. They lead them to the beauty and warmth of the fire of sin, and then get concerned when they start getting too close.
I am amazed at the things I see happening to our people that once seemed innocent to me. How in the world can we sit in front of our television sets and watch sin without eventually getting burned. Tragically, most Christians allow themselves closer to the things of the world than they ever imagined possible.
DO YOU EVER REALLY STOP AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE WATCHING ON YOUR TELEVISION? How in the world could we have become so casual about allowing the fires of sin into our homes without fearing getting burned. Those themes are themes from hell, yet we are so casual as to their potential danger.
That is exactly how sin began to work in my own life. I never imagined that I would commit the sins I did. I did not plan it; it was not something I tried to accomplish. I stood in front of the same fire, many others are standing in front of, until one day I got too close. My destruction began by my deception. Sin’s flames of destruction are always preceded by the warmth of its deception.
There are many individuals who will never allow themselves to do what I did, but without realizing it, are leading their children to that point. Their kids will commit the sins they avoided, but the kids got too close to those fires of sin by the adopting the into their lives the complacent attitude of their parents. What a tragedy to know that your children’s lives may be destroyed by the very things with which you made them comfortable.
I am not suggesting that it is in any way intentional because I am sure it is not, but it proves just how powerful the devil is at getting us intrigued enough by sin, to eventually cause us in some way to get burned.
I am burdened by the way sin gets into our lives because I see what happened to me by my own casual attitude towards things I had no business being around. This is not an excuse; It is a confession; I got careless. Long before I became comfortable with committing my sins, I got comfortable watching or reading about others committing them.
How much love do we have towards our Savior, when we will not get this filth out of our lives? You cannot control something that is uncontrollable. The fire of wickedness is out of control, yet we still warm ourselves by it.
The Bible gives us a principle to let us know what we should allow into our lives. That principle teaches us that if want to do what we know is right, then we must only allow the right thoughts into our minds.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
We need to fear sin to such a degree that before we allow anything to casually enter our lives, we first go through this list and examine in light of these guidelines.
Is it truthful? Does it tell the truth about the consequences for the actions being portrayed? Does it tell the truth about the things of God?
Is it just? Does it treat situations from a Biblically, Just standard, or does it slander people who have been accused, but not convicted? Are the views it expresses objective, or biased towards the world’s viewpoint?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely? Does it edify the good principles of life, or does it magnify murder and violence?
Is it worthy of a good report? Could you take it to the Lord and share it with Him in fellowship?
Is it virtuous? Does it promote virtuous living or heathen living?
Will it cause you to give praise to the Lord, or will it leave you depressed or filled with anxiety?
I am not trying to be trite. These things are virtually ignored by most Christians when they decide what they will allow into their homes by way of their television sets. Please heed my warning. Satan knows what he is doing, and God’s Word was given to warn us of these dangers. Don’t be so casual about sin.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14
2. Sin is addictive because it teases you without satisfying you. It is abundant in promises it cannot keep, yet can give you enough of a taste, to convince you that fulfillment will soon come. It edges you further and further inside its boundaries by the deception that you are near the stage of fulfillment.
In the dark side of sin, that which you think you are enjoying, is merely something which is providing a temporary but unfulfilling thrill that will lead you to try and find the fulfillment you believe it will eventually bring. Sin demands another step. It never has an end, only another stage.
Let me explain a very important and powerful Biblical principle that often is overlooked by Christians. It has to do with the power sin can get, even over a Christian.
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? James 4:15
There are two words in this passage that need to be better understood by all Christians.
Lust is the first. This word means desires or created appetites. Appetites must be satisfied or obliged. In other words, where there is an appetite, there will come the eventual need to feed that appetite. Whether or not you choose to believe this, the fact is, that you cannot control your appetites.
Some of us believe that the way to defeat an evil appetite is to starve it out. That is absolutely false. You can deprive an appetite for only so long, before you will eventually succumb to the need to feed it. When you create an appetite, you are creating something that must be fed or satisfied.
The problem with appetites is, that they are never fully satisfied. Let me give you an example. I have an appetite for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. When I eat some strawberrybanana frozen yogurt, that appetite is temporarily satisfied, but it will return. That means that my appetite for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt is never fulfilled.
Lusts are the same. They are temporarily satisfied, but they are never fulfilled.
Now, follow me carefully. There are some things that may prevent me from satisfying my appetite for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. It may be, that for the time, we are all out of strawberrybanana frozen yogurt, so the opportunity does not allow me to satisfy my appetite for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. The lack of opportunity therefore, can temporarily stop me from satisfying my appetites or lusts.
There may be times when guilt causes me to deny myself strawberrybanana frozen yogurt because I know I should not eat too much strawberrybanana frozen yogurt lest I become too fat. So guilt can stop us temporarily from satisfying our appetites or lusts.
Sometimes I have eaten too much of other things for which I have an appetite, so I am not hungry for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. So, other appetites can be a deterrent for satisfying an appetite or lust.
At other times, I am so caught up in activity that I do not think about strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. The appetite is still there, but it is temporarily out of mind, so that can be a deterrent from satisfying an appetite or lust.
It is also possible that I may be in the company of an individual who is extremely healthy and knows that strawberrybanana frozen yogurt is not really good for them, and I may be influenced by that person not to eat strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. So, the influence of another person may prevent us from satisfying an appetite or lust.
I may be in a place where it would not be proper to eat strawberrybanana frozen yogurt like church or Sunday school, and as long as I am at that place, I will not eat strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. That means that my circumstances can prevent me from satisfying my appetites or lusts.
Wait a minute. There will come a time when I will be walking alone down the aisles of a grocery store, and suddenly I will see strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. The money is in my pocket. My health conscious friend is nowhere to be found. I am hungry. No one would think it a bit odd for me to pick it up and buy it. The appetite never left me, so when the opportunity arose, I ate strawberrybanana frozen yogurt.
My friend, the only way to control an appetite is to not develop an appetite for it, or to allow the Holy Spirit to give you victory over it. I will say more about that later, but the point I am trying to make is, the fact that too many Christians allow themselves to develop appetites or lusts for sins that they cannot control; I did, and it was fatal.
The problem with most of us is, that we think our biggest problem is with temptation, but that is not true. Our biggest problem is with lust, because lust causes temptation. You cannot be tempted by something, unless you have an appetite for it. I do not like lima beans, so you cannot tempt me with them no matter how hard you try. Until an appetite has been developed, there can be no lust.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15
The second word I want to elaborate on is the word, consume. This is a very interesting word. It means to fully expend or to squander. It is exactly the same word used in Luke 15 in the story of the prodigal son, where it says he wasted his substance.
The Bible is teaching us that when we develop an appetite, that appetite will eventually cause us to expend all that we have, to satisfy it. We will waste everything to try and keep that appetite satisfied.
Do you think that I really intended to spend every ounce of my reputation and usefulness to satisfy my lusts? Do you think that I intended to deprive two little girls the opportunity to grow up with their daddy? Do you think I tried to destroy my ministry by wasting the opportunity God had allowed me? Absolutely not. I consumed all of these things upon my lusts.
Sin will take everything you have, and then cause you to scratch and claw for more all in the effort to satisfy the appetite. I spent all that I had on sin, and was still not fulfilled. I would buy a little satisfaction at a time, but eventually, I spent it all and was never fulfilled.
Here is the warning I am trying to give to you. You cannot play with lust and win. Once you have allowed the appetite into your life, you have begun a struggle that will haunt you until you completely yield to the Holy Spirit. By the way, you will not get rid of that appetite on your own. Never! I can deny myself strawberrybanana frozen yogurt, but the appetite will always be there.
Tragically, the devil knows your appetite and mine, and he is always looking to give us opportunities to satisfy them. As long as there is the appetite, and there is opportunity, we have big problems.
There is only one answer. That answer is given in the Word of God.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Gal. 5:16-25
The lusts of our flesh are warring with the Spirit within us. The war is not with the will; the war is with the Spirit. That means, that the only way to win the battle with our appetite is to realize that is a spiritual battle, and we cannot win spiritual battles. Too many Christians talk about willpower as a way to control their appetites. I am sorry, but you do not have enough willpower to win all of those battles.
There are literally thousands of Christians who at this moment have appetites or lusts that have not yet consumed them. You still have your reputation. You still have your ministry. You still have your family. You still have those things that God gave you the ability to do or be, yet the appetites are there, and you think you can keep them under control. Do not be deceived; this is a spiritual battle and you cannot win it.
You are either walking in the spirit, or you or walking in the flesh. Too many times we get the idea that the purpose of the Spirit is for our Christian service. That is dangerously wrong. The purpose of walking in the Spirit is to win the battle with the flesh, so that we do not waste all that we have on riotous living and have nothing left for His service. The Spirit of God is there to win our battle over the appetites of our flesh. Look at what the Bible says.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now, then it is no more that I do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 7:14 – 8:6
There are so many frustrated Christians who feel like failures because they have tried to give up a sin and cannot seem to do it. They go forward in an invitation and promise God that they will not do it anymore, then they fall back into that same sin the very next day or week. Why?
It is because they decided to give up the sin, but failed to recognize that they did not lose the appetite. The way to give up the sin is to yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, so that He can control the appetite. We only get halfway to where we need to be if we are going to avoid committing the sin.
Let me explain to you how this works.
I love strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. Suddenly the opportunity arises for me to spend the money in my pocket to buy that strawberrybanana frozen yogurt. Now let us pretend that eating strawberrybanana frozen yogurt is a sin of the flesh.
As I walk through that grocery store, I am either walking in the flesh or in the Spirit. The devil knows what appetites I have, so he will arrange for me to have my appetite for strawberrybanana frozen yogurt tested. The Bible says that if I am walking in the Spirit, I will not try to satisfy my appetites of the flesh. How can I know that I am walking in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh?
The key is found in the word walk. This word walk, found in Galatians means to walk in order, or in line. Let me explain. Imagine a soldier marching in cadence. That is how a Christian is to walk. We are to walk in cadence to the Holy Spirit. Let me further elaborate on this by giving you an illustration.
When I was a teenage boy, I spent my summers working at a ranch that gave horseback rides to teenagers. We had about thirty horses that we referred to as linehorses. These were the horses that had been so broken, that they would walk in a line behind the horse in front of them. They went at the same speed. they followed in the same direction; they did not try to go where they wanted to go. Their spirits had been broken to such a point, that they followed the lead of that one in the front of the line, who was deciding which way to go.
That is the way we must become, if we are to walk in the Spirit. It means that we have had our spirits broken to such a degree that we are willing to follow His direction, at His speed, without trying to determine for ourselves the speed and direction we want to go. It means that we have crucified the flesh. When we crucify the flesh, we also crucify our affections and lusts as a byproduct because they are a part of the flesh.
There is evidence of this having taken place that can help us to know whether or not we are walking in the spirit. Those evidences are found in this same passage. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
It is very interesting to me that many of these things remind me of those linehorses on that ranch. To walk in the Spirit, we must die to self which is to crucify the flesh. The Spirit within us, then fights the battle with the appetites that we have created. It is His victory, but it prevents us from wasting our substance on our appetites.
So, as I walk through that store in the Spirit rather than in the flesh, the Spirit fights the battle against strawberrybanana frozen yogurt for me. He goes before me, and fights the battles that I could not win in the flesh.
When the Lord was teaching us how to pray, He elaborated on this by telling us to pray for deliverance from temptation. When I do that, I am asking the Lord to go before me and take care of the temptations before I even get to them. Before I ever get to that aisle where the strawberrybanana frozen yogurt is located, the Holy Spirit has won that battle for me and I am not left to deal with the temptation.
Let me take this a step further. Most of us have appetites that are totally out of control and we do not even realize it.
What is our substance, or what is it that our appetites consume. Think about it carefully.
The lusts of the flesh are those things that cause us to consume these things to fulfill them. Is it wrong to spend these things? No, as long as we are spending them for the purpose of walking in cadence with the Lord and not to satisfy our appetites. Many Christians are doing non sinful things to such a degree that they have nothing left for the Lord.
Let me give you an example that will shock many: Sports! I believe the devil has created such an appetite for sports in many Christians that they do not have time for the things of the Lord, such as spending time with their family, and fulfilling things for the glory of the Lord.
When I was a boy, my dad took me to baseball games to build a relationship with me. Our two favorite teams were perennial losers, but the time we spent was valued and precious time. Now, many dads spend endless hours in front of television watching sports and never pray and read the Bible with their children. Sports has become an appetite that they must constantly try and satisfy, but it is never fulfilled. Sports on television has become a great spender of the substance of time God has given us to use for His glory.
That is just an example, not intended to condemn, but to make you think of just how far reaching this matter of appetites can go. Anything that causes you to consume that which God gave you to use for His honor and glory is of the flesh.
Our churches are being destroyed by shopping centers. How? The appeal for things has caused many of our people to consume their money on the satisfying of their appetites for things they do not need at all, and thus causing many ministries to suffer. Our churches are not suffering because of a bad economy. They are suffering because of Christians, who are not walking in the Spirit but are trying to satisfy the appetites of their flesh.
Does not the Bible teach us that we are not to love the things of this world. Do you know what that word things means? It means those items that are attached to the system of this world. We are to wear clothing, but we are not to love clothing. Satan works overtime developing in us powerful appetites for things that we try to satisfy by repeated trips to the mall. We consume it on our lusts.
Look again at what the Bible has to say about the evidences of those of us who are guilty of walking in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.
Now, the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings,
Now let’s take a look at these broken down into two lists. The first list are those things we would not think of allowing into our lives and would be appalled at committing. By the way, if we understood some of those better, we would be surprised at how we may be guilty of them after all, but for the sake of argument, we will assume that most of us will not commit those. The second list is those things which we do not pay that much attention to in our lives.
List one: The unacceptable sins.
List two: Acceptable sins.
- uncleanness – not thoroughly clean from the evil that corrupts the world
- hatred – malicious, unjustifiable feelings of animosity towards others
- variance – disagreeable, contentious
- emulations – jealousy of what others are, or the desire to be what they are or in the position they are in
- wrath – hot, passionate bursts of anger
- strife – contention or the expression of enmity between yourself and others often based on selfish desires
- seditions – standing apart or being divided by disagreement or conflict
- envyings – dissatisfaction with what we based on comparisons with what we see others to have
The above list pretty well describes most of the Christian world, yet we are filled with a self righteousness that seems to disregard the fact that these things are as much signs that we are walking in the flesh as the first list. It is also interesting to note that the two lists are interspersed in the Scripture and not set apart as though some are not as bad as others, or that they are digressing from least bad to those which are the worst.
Anger is an appetite. I knew a man who found delight in expressing great wrath. He actually created an appetite for something that is one of the lusts of the flesh. At every opportunity he would explode in outbursts of wrath that would consume his lusts. It is interesting that he never did so, in situations where it was not opportune for him; yet he would throw temper tantrums as almost a satisfaction of an impulse of the flesh.
Every single one of those things in that list are appetites that beg to be satisfied, yet which are never fulfilled. Each one causes us to consume ourselves in satisfying them even though they never fulfill us. That is what sin is all about. Much of that which is meant for God is consumed or wasted for these appetites.
Do you want to avoid the darker side of sin? Let me warn you, that you must walk in the Spirit or you are headed towards great danger. You will find that the lusts of the flesh are the greatest spenders, yet they never deliver the promises they made to you when you bought into them.
3. Temptation appeals most powerfully to those areas in our lives with which we are least satisfied, yet often most self-confident. I was so arrogant with God, and I was totally convinced that my willpower would stop me from ruining my life. Wrong!
Satan knows that the quickest way to create an appetite in us is to create a dissatisfaction in us. If we can be made to believe that the things in our lives could be better, we can be made to look beyond what we have, to what we think we deserve. Often this comes by comparing what we have to what others have.
I am not sure that this is true in everyone else, but I know it is true in me. The biggest problem with David Hyles was David Hyles. Every circumstance of my life was better than I deserved, even if it was not ideal in my eyes. The fact that I was dissatisfied, proves that my faith in God was not as it ought to have been.
Why are there so many divorces among Christians? I believe it is because most of us read too much about ideal marriages, so we come to want our partner to be all of the things we hear a perfect partner should be. We need more teaching on faith in God, than we do on good marriages. In fact, nothing will disillusion you quicker than listening to all this psychology on having a good marriage. Most of this teaching is done, to give us something we want, more than making us want to be more what we ought to be.
Would you like a good simple principle for improving a bad marriage? It will contradict most of the humanistic teachings in Christianity of our day, but here it is. Be all your are supposed to be for God and have faith that He will allow everything in your life to work out for good, even if the one to whom you are married does not do their part.
You may wish that things were better, just like you may wish that a physical infirmity would go away, but by faith you must be content with things the way they are, and not believe that somehow you deserve better.
By the way, what you have is what God intends for you to have. Quit living in this world of discontent, because it will lead you to seek what you think will be better for you, rather than you seeking what you ought to be seeking, to be better for God.
The Bible teaches that we are to be content with those things that we have. Job may have felt he deserved better, but by faith he remained content. Discontentment is a dangerous crack in which Satan can wedge his way into our lives, and destroy us in the very areas where we feel the strongest.
Do you know what destroys most ministries? Dissatisfaction. A preacher becomes dissatisfied with what he has, so he begins to try and fulfill his own desires by building the ministry the way he thinks it ought to be. He becomes filled with jealousy towards other preachers whose ministries he perceives to be better than his own. He also becomes bitter at his own people for not being what they need to be to give him what he wants.
Many good ministries begin to deteriorate when the preacher loses the desire to do more for God by being more of what God wants him to be, and becomes dissatisfied with the circumstances of his ministry. The very area where he has the most confidence begins to destroy him.
Every time the children of Israel sinned against God, it began with their dissatisfaction with the way things were going. The same thing is true in our lives. Do not allow anything to make you dissatisfied with what God has allowed in your life. Every circumstance in your life will either serve to increase your faith in God, or cause you to be filled with a dissatisfaction that will lead you into sin.
4. Sin’s greatest deception is that it is or can be a singular act that can be dismissed or forgotten. Do not believe that for a minute! It is not true! Whatever sin you may have slipped into, that you have decided was just a one time mistake, has not only revealed a problem with your character, but is a sin with which you must deal, or it will eventually in some way deal with you.
There is a terribly mistaken notion that we can commit a sin in a moment of weakness and just brush it off as a mistake. That is playing with fire, and will most likely lead to a similar scenario in the future that could literally destroy your effectiveness for God and lead you into disaster.
An isolated act of sin is not an innocent mistake, but a revelation of a greater problem with which we must deal. If you have a moral failing in your past that was never brought to light, you better deal with that problem because it reveals something about you, that could very well be the place Satan eventually destroys your effectiveness for God.
5. Our strengths are often the greatest indicator of our potential weaknesses. Whatever strengths you have that are presently being used for God, are the same strengths someone else is using for evil. That is a scary thought, but one that ought to humble us from thinking that it is the strengths that makes us useful, rather than the Spirit of God working through us.
Many preachers are blessed with great strengths in communicating to others. If they are not careful, they may begin to believe that God is using them because of those abilities rather than because of their commitment to Him. If they become impressed with their abilities, they could begin to use those abilities to their own gain, which is exactly what I think happens to many. I know that it happened to me.
Let me explain what happens. God gave me the ability to communicate effectively in preaching. That was the tool God used in me, but not the reason He used me. The reason He used me was because of my love and commitment to Him.
I became impressed with my abilities, and begin to use my abilities to build my ministry rather than seeking the Lord’s face to build my ministry, which means I was building my ministry in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.
What got me to really get in the flesh? My strength. Satan knew that my strength was also my potential weakness, so he worked on controlling my strength rather than trying to destroy my strength. There is no question that this is one of the greatest ways Satan gets into the lives of individuals who are being used of God.
Whatever your strength is, ought to be the place that you guard yourself the most. It is there that you are susceptible to attacks and failures that will destroy your effectiveness for God.
There is another point here concerning our abilities that needs to made lest we allow our abilities to lead us into sin rather than into a greater place of usefulness to God. Again this is a confession from my own experience.
Your value to God ought not be determined by your abilities, but by your character. Many men set out to do a work for God, but as they begin to expand their ministries, their character falls much shorter than their abilities. That leads us to do more things in our ministries in the flesh, than we ever should have allowed. That which is of the flesh is not of the Spirit, and will lead us into sin.
Many good ministries fell apart at the seams because men allowed sin into their lives in order to accomplish that which they did not have the character to do. Let me give you an example of a man who failed the Lord in a great way, but never saw it until he had completely broken down spiritually.
A pastor of a church decided to build a multifaceted ministry for the Lord. He decided to do too much too soon. He had the ability and he had the vision, but he did not have the character. He created terrible financial debts that he could not lead the church to pay.
We would consider that a sin in an individuals life, but we excuse it when it is “for the Lord.” Not only did he overextend the church, but he became guilty of grossly misappropriating church funds. Now, he was not spending that money for personal things, but he was taking money given to be used for one ministry and paying off the bills of other ministries that he had started in his over zealousness.
Add to these things the fact that he made promises to pay salaries to individuals that he could not pay. Remember, he was the one who hired these people with a promise to pay them. The church merely followed his lead.
This man had the ability to juggle all of this and to talk his way through it for a long time, but there came a time when it all came crashing down. Instead of admitting that he had sinned in not being totally honest in his financial dealings, he tried to cast the blame on the church. This man had a moral problem that he was not willing to face, and it all came about because of the fact that he had let his abilities dictate his ministry rather than his character.
Eventually, it became clear that this man had been overtaken by the lusts of the flesh as other sins were revealed that all had started after he began to fail in these other areas. The flesh had gotten control of him by inflating his opinion of himself. He had made the mistake of judging his abilities rather than his character.
Be careful about the things you consider to be your strengths, because those things may end up being the cause of the flesh taking control in your life.
6. A repeated temptation is a siren of warning. Satan continues to provide opportunity to sin where he knows we are most vulnerable, therefore, if we continue to be tempted in some area of our lives, we ought to become very suspicious that that area is a danger spot. Sometimes when we overcome temptation to something repeatedly, we become convinced that we have enough strength to continue winning that battle.
It may be that Satan knows that it is an area where we have a weakness, and he is going to continue to exploit it until we have filled up with pride in thinking we have it under control. Opportunity may just keep knocking on the door until your curiosity causes you to open it.
Let me elaborate here again on the matter of lust. We do not always realize that we have developed an appetite for something until we have actually been tempted. My failings did not occur the first time I was tempted. In fact, I thought that I had everything under control in my life because of the fact that I had overcome temptation. Little did I know that it was my will power and not the Spirit of God that was keeping me from those sins.
I became proud. The Bible warns us that pride goes before destruction. Why? Because pride proves that we are acting in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. You will not yield to the power of the Spirit until you feel a sense of weakness within yourself. The devil would like nothing more than to make us think that we have gained the victory over the temptations in our lives.
For the rest of my life I must be aware constantly of the fact that I have no power over sin within my flesh, and that I must rely on the Spirit of God to win the victory for me. If I ever think that I have conquered my sins, I am on my way back to failure.
7. The results of sin are far more painful and difficult than you think they will be before you have faced them. There is no doubt in my mind that the fear of sin is greater from a distance, than it is up close. When familiarity for a sin becomes such that you are no longer terrified for what it will do to your fellowship with God, you are in grave danger of falling into that sin.
Herein is a very important principle that will tell you much about your values and how they affect your willingness to sin.
You only fear losing that for which you have the most value. Think about it. If I do not know you, or could care less what you think of me, I will not determine my actions on what you will think of me, or how it will affect our relationship.
Unfortunately, most of us have such little value in our relationship with the Lord that we destroy it without giving it a second thought. If there is little or no relationship left to destroy, we certainly are not going to worry much about what we do to damage it. That is what I did to God.
There was one thing I did not think about. There were so many things God had blessed me with that I also forfeited and it was in destroying those things that finally made me realize what I had done to God.
May I both testify and confess in the same text? There is no substitute for the Christian life! The life of service to others and with God’s people is not perfect, but it is the greatest life there is. Lose it and you will see how good God is. To really be right with all of those things that go along with the Christian life, you must be right with the Lord. For me to get right with that world, where I could once again feel a peace in being a part, I had to first get right with the Lord and make peace with Him.
You will not be able to fake out Christians for long because the Lord will let people know whether or not you have become the genuine article. People will not have peace about me until the Lord gives them peace about me and that could not happen until I had truly made peace with Him.
Let me tell you one of the sweetest things about getting right with the Lord. A preacher who had been very harsh towards me since he heard of my failings happened to be at a place where I was serving Attorney David Gibbs. Unknown to me, he had been watching me for several days. Finally, he approached me and said these words to me. He said, “I have been watching you for the past several days and God has placed a special burden for you on my heart. I feel like my spirit has been knit to yours, and I want you to know, I believe God has done a very special work in your heart.”
You can not possibly imagine what that did for me because I knew that it was something that only the Lord could do. That was sweet.
Fellowship with other believers in the Lord is the sweetest fellowship with men there is, but it is only possible when everything has been made right with the Lord.
I missed the Christian world terribly while I was away from the Lord. I longed for the day when I had things right in my life so that I could be a part again. It was a terrible price to pay to lose that. It is like losing touch with your family that you so dearly love.
Yet as painful as that is there is also the realization that all of the joy you once knew in the Lord is gone and you are grasping to satisfy a flesh that just will not be satisfied.
There are many wayward Christians who miss being what they used to be, but just do not want to give up the satisfaction they are temporarily gaining by continuing to feed the flesh. They are not satisfied and they know it, but the lusts of the flesh are so great, that they cannot imagine living without them.
That is a miserable life. Think about living a life that has been deprived of all the joy you now know, yet being able to come to it because of a chain you allowed to be wrapped around you. The worst part is, knowing you are miserable, yet feeling you cannot give up the very thing that is keeping you miserable. That is exactly what sin does.
Dear Christian friend, I have learned some things about sin that I wish I had not had to learn the way I did. There are only two things that can turn those lessons into blessings.
If it keeps me from ever allowing sin to take control of my life again.
If it helps others avoid ever experiencing what I did by taking heed to my advice.
These are not hollow or shallow words from some man who never knew what it was like to lose something very precious to him. I lost almost everything I had, to sin. I have been on the underside of sin; I have felt the suffocation of addiction. I know what it feels like to be bound by something and to feel like you will never again be free.
Heed my warning! Stay away from the fire, so that you never get burned. To every Christian who is trying to serve the Lord, watch out! Do not become a casualty. It could happen to you as easily as it happened to me. In God’s dear precious name, don’t let that happen.