February 27, 2012
Before we make a sinful decision, a series of circumstances occurs that makes temptation harder to resist. As temptations start to build we do have the power to change situations in which fertile circumstances influence us to sin. When we choose to stick with those tempting circumstances instead of turning away, we are guilty of the sin-before-the-sin … of getting too close, the point of seemingly no return. Think of it as the sin of nearness.
The sin-before-the-sin involves the little decisions that set us up for temptation plus the fateful “final step”, which is the decision to commit the sinful act itself. If we are to overcome the strongholds in our lives that constantly pull us in the wrong direction, we have to come to a place of obedience. The dirty word is DISCIPLINE! It’s much easier to make the decision now before the pressure begins to rise. We need to do everything possible to act while we have our maximum control, instead of waiting until our control seemingly dwindles, which is when sin occurs. We all know what these occasions look like.
You know what your stronghold is … a substance, caffeine, alcohol, work, gossip, sarcasm …. If Satan has a stronghold in your heart regarding food, then be aware of how you are feeding the supply lines of that stronghold. When you decide to stop at the fast food place, walk into the kitchen, or open the refrigerator door, you make it easier to be tempted to sin. Resisting these earlier steps cuts off the supply lines and weakens Satan’s strongholds over time. That is why it gets easier each time you resist temptation.
Failing to eliminate stumbling blocks that lead to sin is a serious issue for many of us. Sexual temptation has presented itself to most of us at some time in our lives. Today’s scripture advises us to run from sexual sin. When you get close to sexual temptation, the flesh lights up. With sexual sin, the longer we are in the presence of temptation the less likely we are to escape without sinning. It is so much better to avoid the sin before the sin… to run from the sin of nearness. Don’t turn on the computer in an isolated place; don’t touch yourself; move that sexual image out of your head; stop fantasizing; look away from cleavage; don’t start that conversation. Jesus warns that when you lust, you are committing adultery.
The closer we get to the fleshly sensations of the sinful act, the harder it is to resist, especially when we are feeling down, lonely, bored, sad, overwhelmed, out of control, powerless, fill-in-the-blank for the feeling that cripples your ability to run from the sin of nearness.
Today, take notice of the small decisions that lead up to the actual wrong decision. Draw a little map or timeline, so you can see the options you had that would have taken you on a different course before you made the sinful decision itself. Resist the sin of nearness to cut off the supply lines and strangle those strongholds Satan has in your life. Stay in fellowship with Jesus. Turn to Him for the strength and discernment you need. With Him, you can do all things. Life is your decision, so choose well. Edging Forward helps you cut those supply lines.
Dear Father God, help me notice the many warnings and opportunities you give me to turn away as I walk down the path to sin. Help me recognize the stumbling blocks. Help me be a better steward of the “little” decisions that lead up to the “bigger” decisions. I can only do this through submission to Your Holy Spirit guiding me in Your wisdom and empowering my action. Especially help me to run from all temptation that leads to sexual sin. Help me to run away from this sin and toward You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One You sent to teach me how to resist temptation, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18