We've all seen the drivers who consistently ignore the speed limits until they reach the cameras. Then the brakes go on. They drive impeccably for the few yards where they might be caught breaking the law and then accelerate away. To my shame I was one of those drivers until about a year ago. The Lord challenged me on it and I determined to change.
We sometimes live our Christian lives as though we're being watched by speed cameras. When the eyes of the world, and particularly other believers, are on us we can behave in a quite godly manner. We are more careful what we do and say than when we're alone. Paul illustrates this very human tendency when he instructs slaves to work hard even when the master isn't watching (Eph 6:5-6).
Everyone does this to some extent. We present an acceptable front to the world but behind closed doors our standards are not so high. Our families often see things in us we would rather our Christian brothers and sisters didn't know. And then there's what we allow our minds to dwell on, where even those closest to us cannot see. Even if our heart's desire is to live a holy life, the very fact that we have a private life and an inner world, means that temptation within these realms is more difficult to resist.
The Great Delusion
Of course, we are deluding ourselves because the Lord sees everything we think or do but for some reason we conveniently forget about that at the point at which we dip our toe in to the ocean of sin. Why is that?
The Lord Jesus said, "if you love me you will obey what I command" (Jn 14:15). A corollary of that statement might be that our level of obedience to the Lord is determined by how much we love Him. In other words, the more we love Jesus, the more determined we will be to resist temptation and stay away from sin.
Consequences of Sin
We all know that feeling of conviction when we've missed the mark of God's perfect will. We know what it's like to have that black cloud between us and the Lord. It's not a comfortable place to be. Like the prodigal we eventually come to our senses and repent.
Our sin doesn't just affect us, it affects the Lord. Whilst He is never surprised by what we do, it saddens our Father's heart that his children should go astray. But it is more awful than that. In one sense it is as though we ourselves are hammering the nails into the hands and feet of Jesus. We are contributing to the sins which made his sacrificial suffering necessary.
It may be helpful to focus on the cross when we need to find the resources to resist temptation. But the crucifixion has already taken place and whatever we do now does not add to the suffering of that dreadful day. Consequently it's easy to convince ourselves that one extra bit of sin doesn't really make a difference.
An Adulterous Bride
Throughout the Old Testament, when God's people turned away from Him, He sent prophets who accused the nation of being an adulterous wife. Poor old Hosea even had to live prophetically, instructed by the Lord to take an unfaithful wife as a sign of the guilt of the people (Hos 1:2).
We are part of the Bride of Christ and, like a husband, He is jealous for our affection. When we sin, He may be angry and disappointed. But He is also deeply hurt. When we fail to be obedient to Him we show a lack of love for Him. Our devotion should be that of a bride. When we sin we are looking to something or someone other than the Lord Jesus to satisfy our desires. Put bluntly, this is spiritual adultery. It is a shameful thing.
The more in love with the Lord Jesus we are, the greater will be our desire to remain faithful to Him. No one who is truly in love could even contemplate adultery. The Lord's character is such that the more time we spend in His presence, the more deeply we will love Him. Spending quality time alone with Jesus is not only good for our souls, it leads us on a journey away from sin and towards holiness of life. Time spent with Him is never wasted.
Prayer College Assignment
Take some extra time this week, over and above what you would normally spend with the Lord, and "waste" it on Jesus. Ask Him to reveal His love to you so that you may "know this love that surpasses knowledge," (Eph 3:19). This isn't being indulgent. It is spiritual warfare for it will strengthen you in your resistance to sin.