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The Slippery Slope Of Sin

“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

— James 1:15

Have you ever stood at the top of a slippery slope—perhaps a steep and icy driveway or even a hill of dirt that crumbles beneath your feet—lost your footing, and slid down to the bottom? Sin is like that. We might justify a “tiny” sin to achieve a dearly desired goal. “After all,” we say, “a little compromise won’t hurt.” But one little sin leads to another, and before you know it, you tumble downhill, head over heels, out of control.

We see this principle in action in a rather obscure story in 2 Kings 8, the story of Hazael. Hazael was a servant to the great king of Syria, Ben-Hadad, who had heaped upon Hazael many favors and honors. But the king fell ill, so he sent Hazael to the prophet Elisha to inquire whether he would recover from the illness. Elisha instructed Hazael, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover.’ However the Lord has shown me that he will really die.” Elisha stared at Hazael until Hazael felt ashamed. Hazael knew that the prophet had seen into his heart, that he could not hide his evil plans from God. But Hazael loved his own goal, his own ambition, more than he loved righteousness. So Elisha began to weep, and Hazael asked, “Why is my lord weeping?” And he said, “Because I know the evil you will do to the children of Israel.” Hazael wondered aloud, “But what is your servant—a dog, that he should do this gross thing?” Hazael returned to the king and reported that the king would surely recover. But the very next day, Hazael suffocated him. And before long, Hazael invaded Israel and ravished its land and people just as Elisha had said he would.

This story shows us the inherent sin that lies within the depths of each of our souls. For Hazael, what began as ambition led down the slippery slope to murder and later to genocide.

Always be on guard. Never justify a sin, a “slight” wrong, or a white lie. If you do, you might find yourself slipping down that slippery slope.

“It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed,
than to repent of those we intend to commit.”
Josh Billings

Christian Fellowship

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

— 1 John 1:7

We all need friends, and when we become Christians, we suddenly join a worldwide fellowship of friends—friends we will enjoy forever. When the Spirit of God and the love and forgiveness of God fill our hearts, all the barriers sin has erected break down. Then, by the grace of God, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends, brothers and sisters, children and parents, nations and races reunite and reconcile one to another. We become one in Christ.

Are you experiencing this wonderful friendship in your life? Sometimes we don’t experience this fellowship because we allow sin to separate us from God and each other. This division wreaks havoc in our world. As we cease to share our values, emotions, and the deepest purposes of our lives, we grow more distant, more leery of connecting with anyone. And the lack of abiding friendships in our homes, schools, families, and even churches, causes anxiety, turmoil, and insecurity in our society. The Devil feeds on this division, working toward eternal separation of people from God and from one another.

But Christ stops that work. Christ unites us with God and with each other, creating a great big family, a family in the deepest, most spiritual, noblest, and holiest sense of the word. As believers, we develop a relationship so intimate that Paul describes it as one body. We unite to become the body of Christ.

The deep friendships we can have with other believers bring us great joy here on earth. They reflect the perfect unity Heaven has in store for us. In fact, we can anticipate Christian Communion, which will go far beyond earthly friendship, because we have brothers and sisters we have not even met but to whom we are closely linked through Christ for eternity. In an alienated and lonely world, the worldwide Church has a great privilege and opportunity to show the world true friendship.

I challenge you to build eternal friendships starting today. Can you think of a Christian brother or sister you’d like to know better? Take a step to connect today.

“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle
of Christian friends by a fire?”
C. S. Lewis

Aim High

“. . . Shamgar . . . killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad; and he also delivered Israel.”

— Judges 3:31

How high are your ambitions to accomplish things for God’s glory? Today we meet an obscure character of Scripture, a man named Shamgar, who aimed high and honored his Lord.

The Philistines had conquered Israel and were greatly oppressing the Israelites. The Philistines had taken all of the Israelites’ weapons and means of defense, leaving the Israelites despondent. What could they do? They were outnumbered and defenseless. But Shamgar, a farmer, had a different attitude. He labored hard in the fields, plowing his crops with a broken yoke of oxen. Day after day he worked, despite the threat that when the harvest came, the Philistines would sweep down and carry away all his crops. And sure enough, at harvest time six hundred fully armed Philistines swept down on this one farmer armed with only a goad (a pointed instrument used to provoke oxen).

Shamgar could have made excuses: “There was only one of me. I was just a farmer. I didn’t have a sword.” But he didn’t. Because Shamgar had faith in God and concern for his people, he decided to take a stand. As the Philistines came upon him, he took his ox goad and began to swing it. That must have been quite a battle to behold. When the dust settled, six hundred Philistines lay dead on the ground, and Shamgar went home to his harvest.

Shamgar had a goal: to free his people from bondage. Because of his faith in God, he reached that goal, despite the incredible odds against him. And we can do the same. What goals would you like to achieve? Don’t sell yourself short or put limits on what you can accomplish. Through God, you can do anything. Therefore, aim high.

“Not failure but low aim is the crime!”

Crown Him Lord Of All

“But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’”

— Luke 19:14

Have you ever played a part in this scenario: You’re having a rational discussion with someone when the subject of Christianity arises. All of a sudden, this person spouts nonsensical arguments in favor of rejecting Christ outright. Do you ever wonder why the subject of Christianity makes the most rational people irrational?

Why do so many reject Jesus Christ? Arguments against Christ seem to fly out of the human heart like bats out of a dark cave. Many people raise objections against Christ that seem absurd and ridiculous. The fallen human mind can produce an enormous amount of arguments to counter the truth of Christ despite clear evidence of His existence. This reflex rejection brings to mind Christ’s trial, when no rational accusation against Him came forth.

I believe that most objections do not come from intellectual causes but from moral ones. People reject Christ not because of unconvincing arguments but because of uncontrolled appetites. Most people prefer to pass themselves off as skeptics rather than sinners, as agnostics rather than reprobates, as doubters rather than debauchers or drunks. I once read about a man who claimed to be a Christian early in life but then rejected Christ because, despite his prayers, a loved one died from a disease. Later on, however, people discovered that this man was a womanizer with a “girl in every port.” His intellectual arguments didn’t fuel his rejection of Christ; his sin did.

Instead of allowing sin to determine our belief in Christ, we should have an attitude like that of the aging Queen Victoria. During a performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” as the choir sang “King of kings and Lord of lords,” she rose to her feet despite a great deal of pain. She later explained that she could not sit before the King of kings and Lord of lords. We, too, should proclaim His existence, in our arguments and our actions, striving to live right so that we might experience Him daily, leaving no room for doubt that He lives.

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, to crown Him Lord of all!”
Edward Perronet


“But command Joshua, and encourage him and strengthen him . . .”

— Deuteronomy 3:28

Have you ever had someone encourage you when you felt low or defeated? Remember how that encouragement rejuvenated you, giving you a fresh desire to persevere?

Nothing could uplift us more than the encouragement of a friend or loved one. Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul. Having run two miles, a person may need to pause to catch his or her breath before running another two. Similarly, a person facing a formidable task or even the wearying routines of life needs to pause for encouragement before tackling the work ahead. Encouragement fortifies the laboring soul.

In Deuteronomy, God instructed Moses to commission Joshua and to “encourage him and strengthen him; for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which you will see” (Deuteronomy 3:28). Why did Joshua need such encouragement? Because God assigned him the great task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. God knew Joshua would need all the encouragement he could get, and He knew Moses could best give it. When Moses led the Israelites, he faced discouragement again and again: when he confronted Pharaoh, when he came to the Red Sea, and when the Israelites lamented their lack of meat in the desert. In desperation Moses cried out to the Lord, explaining that the people were too big a challenge for him. Having had these experiences, Moses readily obeyed God’s command to encourage Joshua for the task that lay ahead.

Like Joshua, we all need encouragement, especially after our greatest defeats when doubt and discouragement set in. So be oxygen to the souls of those around you, strengthening them to persevere for the kingdom of God. Encourage others with God’s promise to work good in all things.

Who can you encourage today?

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
Johann Von Goethe


“Pursue . . . holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

— Hebrews 12:14

Do you ever wonder how historians of the future will characterize the age in which we live? Will they call it the information age? The nuclear age? The technological age? The space age?

I’d like to suggest a term, but you probably won’t feel proud of it. I think we live in a dirty age. Despite the ways agencies fight the air and water pollution that threaten our environment, we live in a dirty world. But I’m not talking about environmental blight—I’m talking about the moral impurities that pollute our society, affecting us far more than we realize.

I do not know when in the history of civilization society has degenerated to such an unclean state as that which we experience today. To see what I’m talking about, just peruse almost any contemporary novel, take a peek at some of the recently produced movies, or view today’s television programs. Or just listen to everyday conversations.

But God calls us to holiness and purity, wanting us to counteract moral pollution. So how do we become pure and stay pure in the midst of our society’s depravity? We can do so only through the pure and spotless Lamb of God.

To pursue holiness and purity, we need to understand what sin really is. Instead of enjoying the forbidden, we need to see sin as devilish and destructive, an evil force that pulls us down. As the psalmist said, “You that love the Lord, hate evil.” Guard your heart from the evil that surrounds you daily. Forsake the depraved, and feed your mind on the things of God.

We also must seek accountability. Do you know a mature and trustworthy Christian who can hold you accountable in your walk with God? If you struggle with a particular sin, just knowing that you’ll have to give an account to someone can keep you walking straight on God’s path. If you don’t already have such a person in your life, begin praying today that God will give you a partner with whom you can seek His holiness and purity.

“The greatest security against sin is to be shocked at its presence.”
Thomas Carlyle

The Triumphs Of Faith

“. . . And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

— 1 John 5:4

Everyone wants to win in the game of life. Yet, as we look about this world, we see many losers, people who lose more often then they win, many who are victims and not conquerors. Many fall vastly short of any and all hopes they had for life. Perhaps you know someone who has reached for his or her dreams but fallen on hard times in the process.

What is the secret to victory in life? There are varying theories. Some believe that education is the great panacea, the key which unlocks all the doors of success. Others say that a positive attitude can help anyone live life victoriously. With PMA—Positive Mental Attitude—the whole world will fall in line. Yet others extol the virtues of meditation. Place your hands on your knees, squat on the floor, close your eyes, and chant your mantra; soon life will be a bowl of cherries.

We could add to this list almost indefinitely, and no doubt some of these ideas have value. But if we want the true key to victory in life, we need look no further than the Bible. Scripture describes a key that inevitably brings triumph: the key of faith. “Faith,” declared the apostle John, “is the victory that overcomes the world.”

Yet how can we rejoice in victory when we are constantly beset with trials, problems, troubles, and evils of every sort that threaten to overwhelm us? God promises that no evil can overcome those who believe in His Son. We can claim victory because we have faith that God will transform any trials into victories. We can rest in that confidence, and thus faith changes all things in a magnificent way. Isn’t it wonderful to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God works good in all things?

Do you feel headed for defeat today? Trust God—He can turn any loss into victory. Have faith in Him today, and look toward your situation with confidence that He works all things for good.

“God and I can do anything that God can do alone.”

Many Times More

“Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life.”

— Luke 18:29–30

When the Lord asks us to follow Him, He doesn’t promise an easy nor simple life. In fact, He often calls us to give up something or someone for the sake of the Gospel. Perhaps you’ve had to let go of a cherished dream or a relationship to follow Christ.

Whatever God asks us to give up, we never make those sacrifices in vain. God always repays us “many times more,” not because He owes us anything, but because of His kindness and mercy. Though our sacrifices may cause us pain that we may live with for the rest of our lives, Jesus promises the blessings will be worth the sacrifices. When we look back on our lives, we’ll see that whatever we gave up for His sake, He gave back to us in other ways, and then some. For example, some choose to follow Jesus even though their families reject them, but suddenly they find they have a worldwide family in the body of Christ.

As humans, we never find these sacrifices easy, but the difficulty is part of God’s grand design. God tries us in order to strengthen us. A father tries to get his little son to learn to walk, not so that he will fall down and knock out a tooth, but so that he will know the joy of walking. God tries us through our sacrifices so He can test our faith, purifying and strengthening us. It is sad that many people never experience God’s incredible blessings because they don’t want to make sacrifices. Instead of putting their all on the altar, they stand far off and debate about the reasonableness of God’s request. But God never asks us to make sacrifices until He has prepared us for them. He makes us ready to stretch and grow into stronger people. And when we undergo the trials, God blesses us tremendously.

Is God asking you to make a sacrifice that seems humanly impossible? Don’t stand by and miss the blessing He has in store for you. Say “yes,” obey Him, and watch Him do great and mighty things in your life.

“In this world it is not what we take up,
but what we give up, that makes us rich.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Thy Will Be Done

“. . . Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God . . .”

— Hebrews 10:9

Many people today seem to live in frustration, anxiety, fear, and disappointment. They endure a wearying struggle, often in vain, leading to dissatisfaction. Does this sound like your life? If so, maybe you need to discover the joy of praying to God, “Thy will be done.”

These words crossed Jesus’ lips often. He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” And remember how, on that night in Gethsemane, He uttered those words over and over: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

We must believe that God is good and that He has great plans for our lives. We can place ourselves in Christ’s hands, remembering that those hands have been pierced for us. But so often, we shrink back in horror from Jesus’ words “Not my will but thine be done.” We think that if we say them, maybe something like the Cross awaits us. But God has not called us to save the world. Jesus took that Hell in order that we might be spared. He loves us with an everlasting love. How many people do you know who would send their children to die for you? Can Someone who would give His only begotten Son not also freely give you all things?

Oh, that we would cease struggling and rebelling against God’s will for us. I believe that as we stop viewing God through our distorted, human lenses and seek His true nature as described in Scripture—that His banner over us is love, that the hands extended before us have been pierced for us—we will eagerly cast ourselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly into His hands and say with all that is in us, “Lord, Thy will be done in me.”

Cast yourself in God’s hands today. Say to the Lord, “Thy will be done,” laying before Him all that stands in your way of following and trusting Him wholeheartedly. And when He tells you where to go and what to do, obediently follow, and watch what God can do in and through your life.

“Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless free . . .”

Make The Most Out Of Life

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

— Psalm 90:12

Are you getting everything you want from life? Or do the days slip by too quickly for you to meet your responsibilities, let alone reach for your dreams?

If we’re going to make the most of our lives, we have to get the whole concept of life into the proper focus and perspective. We need to view life as God does, because as humans, our perspective on life is upside down.

The Bible tells us two things about life. A number of Biblical texts deal with life’s brevity, and others address its longevity. To make sense of these seemingly contradictory assertions, we must understand that the first group of texts discusses this present life and the second group describes the life to come. The Bible makes it clear that eternal life is the real life—that in eternity we wake up, as it were, from a dream, out of a deep sleep. Although this present life seems so real, it is but a shadow, a vapor that passes away. In Psalm 90, Moses says this life is like grass that grows in the morning and in the evening is cut down. Job said, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.” A weaver’s shuttle goes up and down so fast, yet faster than that fly the days of our lives. The moment we reach eternity, the morning that people call death, is the beginning of real and everlasting life.

But we also need to focus on today. Yesterday is gone—irretrievably, forever, completely gone. We can never bring it back. Tomorrow may never come. We never have anything but today. And so the Bible teaches us to live in the moment, making each one count.

Live this life one day at a time, and make the most of each day for God’s glory. And the next time you look up at a clock and wonder where the day has gone, remember that you’re one day closer to eternity.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”