Written: Aug 2nd, 2006
It was a beautiful morning. Given the recent heat wave, the weather on the on the morning of 24th of July was gorgeous as I walked to the car at 7am headed to work. All through the first half of my work day I longed to get back outside, soak up some sunshine and enjoy the break in the cool of the day. at noon I headed out to the bench with book in hand and the weather was still just as nice. About 70 degrees with a light breeze to keep things cool. I looked around and let out a sigh of praise to the Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful day. I was only outside for about 30 minutes when I decided to mosey back in. It wasn’t until I was off the 4th floor elevator and rounding the corner toward my cubicle that I felt it. Something… something not good. Something crawling. Crawling from my shirt collar onto my neck! With one terrified swoop, I knocked it off my shoulder and into the air. I couldn’t tell what it was. One thing for sure: It was HUGE. A big, black, ugly, flying, loud, ugly bug! Did I mention ugly? I watched it fly back and forth for a bit till it finally landed on the floor next to the wall. I swear it was looking up at me…and I could almost hear a faint little bug laugh. At this point I commenced to assist my new found friend in ending his life. Sorry all you bug lovers, but I bludgeoned the giant Cicada to death…and with my marriage improvement book no less! Onlookers laughed. I was embarrassed, horrified and of course had completely forgotten the pleasures I’d enjoyed only moments earlier in the beautiful breezy afternoon. I had no idea that thing was on me! How long had it been there? What kind of diseases was it carrying? Did it mess up my hair? All the crucial questions, circled in my mind. 🙂
As I licked my war wounds back at my desk, this lovely experience got me thinking. How often is our sin just like that big ugly bug hiding on my back? How often are we blissfully strolling along enjoying God’s grace when (wham!) we get hit with temptation that we never knew was just around the corner the whole time? How much of our struggles are we even aware of? How many lay just beneath the surface ready to pounce (or crawl) on us when given the first opportunity?
In Psalm 19, after David extols the wonders of God’s revelation in His creation, he goes on to tell how marvelous God’s written Word is. He then get’s very personal. He applies the truth of who God is to his own life. Listen to what he says in verse 12,
“12 Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults…”
Hidden faults? You mean there could be things that we are doing that we don’t even know about?! You mean that thing was crawling on me all the way up the elevator and into the office?! YES! Unnoticed, undetectable! So often we don’t know about temptation and sin until it is too late! Until it’s crawling on our neck! Who can discern his errors? The implied answer to David’s question is, “no one!” Our hearts are so desperately wicked and bent on evil that we can only scratch the surface of how far short we fall of the glory of our God. We stand with David today and exclaim the same. Lord who can discern my errors? Forgive me of those things that I think, say and do that dishonor you. Things that, often, I don’t even know I’m doing. As I thought more on this experience and the Christian life, I was reminded of two passages that I think we could meditate on to help us fight this battle of hidden sin in our lives. They both come from New Testament sections of Scripture that deal with this very issue. Be encouraged and equipped by God’s word as you consider the following:
1. “Be self-controlled and alert” (1 Peter 5:8). The Apostle Peter knew quite well what it was like to lose control and fall from the top of his game. Remember who fell asleep in the garden when asked to watch and pray? Remember who foolishly denied he knew the Lord when asked by a simple servant girl in the courtyard? Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke from experience when he penned these words! He knew how easy it was to drift into careless behavior. To be so flesh-minded so as to forget that the path of Christ is not a playground, but a battle ground! He knew what it was like to dull his senses to the importance of keeping watch over his walk with Christ. Peter often had a big ole’ bug on his back and before he knew what was happening, it was crawling on his neck! He ought to have stayed alert, self controlled and aware that at any time sin was crouching at his door, desiring to have him. Peter had learned from his carelessness and God used him to encourage us with these words. “The devil” (read: big ugly Cicada) “prowls around” (read: crawls up) “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (ok, so this thing might not have been able to devour me, but I wasn’t going to let it try!). Brothers and sisters, we must be self-controlled and alert. Don’t be so engrossed in daily living that we forget about the enemy of our souls that often is very patiently waiting for the prime opportunity to land on us. Though Christians can’t be overcome by Satan, he will certainly try to destroy your joy, stain your testimony and delight you with despicable behavior. Watch out! Pray! Stay in the Word! Be Alert!
2. “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). Here, the writer to the Hebrew Christians exhorts them to view the lives of those who had gone before them in the fight of faith (chapter 11) and allow their faithfulness to be the motivation to train and discipline themselves for godly living. What is godly living? Simply put: fearing the Lord and hating evil. Delighting in the Lord and turning away from wickedness. Of course, this can’t be done until God himself removes your stony heart and gives us a heart of flesh. Nevertheless, once we are born again, we are told to “put off the old man” and “put on the new.” Are you being diligent to proactively identify those things in life (places, people, environments, etc) that so easily ensnare you and draw you toward sin? Temptation is much like gravity. When you are far from the earth, not much out there pulls you toward home. But as you get closer to the planet, the pull is almost irresistible! Fire up your thrusters and head for the moon! Stay as far away from the areas of this fallen world that tempt you to think, feel and do evil. Picture a runner at a track meet. He may warm up in full length pants and a heavy jacket, but when it’s time to run the race what does he do? He rips it all off! Lighten your load! Again, envision a soldier ready to storm a bunker in Iraq. He doesn’t pack his sleeping bag and favorite DVD! He only takes what he needs for the assault! We need to think, prepare and act like the runner, like the soldier! Throw off everything that will hinder us in the fight of faith. Our great commander Christ has given us both the orders and the ability to execute them well.
May you be motivated not by this article, but by the Lord himself, through His word, toward greater diligence and dependence in your Christian walk. Greater holiness, great hunger for God’s word, greater hatred of sin, greater love for your neighbor and for those in your local church. For the greatest honor of His name in all the World!