I’m teaching a reading class this semester, and one of our textbooks is “The Story of the Bible.” As we discussed the Creation account shortly followed by the Fall, I was reminded again of how messed up we really are. It’s a sad story. Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God and themselves, yet one act of rebellion ruined it all. And we all suffer from their sinful choice.
Satan truly is the master deceiver. But he is cunning too. He could have just told them to eat the fruit because they would be like God. But first he made them doubt God’s integrity and question his goodness. Then he was ready to focus on their self-interest and pride. Sure it was nice living in a beautiful paradise, but being like God would be a radically new way of living. How could that not be tempting?
I’m not sure if this is a common pattern. But it seems that sin always begins in the mind. Maybe it’s a fleeting thought at first. But eventually it latches onto your mind and festers. Something that was once a passing thought becomes wishful thinking and then becomes an obsession. You can’t get it out of your mind if you tried.
You’re not in control anymore. You try to banish these sinful thoughts and erase them. But they always seem to resurface no matter what you do. Kind of like trying to force a ball under water. It always pops up again somewhere else. And sin doesn’t stay locked in your mind forever. It wants to get out.
And so your thoughts turn into actions. What you used to despise you have become. You can’t stand who you are now, but you feel like you can’t stop either. And then there’s always the rationalizations. At least I’m not as bad as that person, you might think. I don’t do this sin that often. God could have taken away this struggle, but he hasn’t. It’s really not my fault.
Sometimes I amaze myself at how easily I can rationalize myself and absolve myself from guilt. And I wonder if these sinful struggles are more from my own fleshly desires or spiritual attacks. Perhaps they are both. I couldn’t tell you. But what I do know is that some of these struggles won’t end soon. They might even be lifelong, which can be completely discouraging and even depressing.
But there is hope. We have a God who became like us, was tempted just as we are, and never sinned. So we can turn to him, repent, and seek to follow him. And we can ask godly men or women in our lives to help us forsake our sin and live for Jesus. The battle may seem overwhelming, the enemy invincible. But we already know the end – God wins. So let’s lift each other up, encourage each other, and press onward. Satan may be a great deceiver and master of lies, but we have the Truth.