October 27, 2009

Trick or Treat

When selfish desires hook up with temptation, a baby of doom is born. That baby is called “Sin” and when it fully grows up, it wears a black robe and hood, and carries a sickle. Oh, I know Halloween is coming, but this is no horror movie in costume. It is reality.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
In simple, more common illustration, say I have a craving for munchies (and I often do). I go to the store and see them on the shelf. I can resist at that point, thanks to the grace of God. However, if I buy them, all is not lost. I could have a few and that would not be a problem, again thanks to the grace of God. However, if I give in and eat them for days and then weeks and years, the over-eating is the sin, and the heart attack from clogged arteries or the stroke from high blood pressure is the measure of fully grown sin, the grown-up baby of death.

It works the same way with sinful attitudes like envy or hate. Eventually, if not spurned and starved, these things become monsters that destroy. If they do not actually kill me (people die from loneliness, never mind excessive anger), they will destroy relationships and put me totally out of touch with God. If those sins were not already forgiven, they would land me on the other side of grace where there is eternal punishment.

I note that death is more than physical. In several places in the Bible, the word “separation” makes a good substitute. Sin separates people from God and from His blessings. That is spiritual death. If that baby is not checked, not confessed, not forgiven, and not covered with the blood of Christ, it will grow until there is no hope and the separation, a.k.a. death, is for eternity.

Every October about this time I am thinking what I would wear if we did decided to go to a costume party. Much of what I see in ads and Halloween promotion is related to death or spiritual darkness. Is there a costume that depicts life and spiritual light? What can I put on that shows the other side of this horror called sin and death? The Bible offers several suggestions:

•    But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:14)
•     . . . put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
•    Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
•    Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering . . .  (Colossians 3:12)
•    But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (Colossians 3:14)
I need to remember that this ‘costume’ is more than an external garment. All these things are about the heart, the inner person. I cannot merely look like this on the outside (even if that was possible), but must be like this on the inside.

We seldom do much to “celebrate” Halloween. This holiday may have started out with a better spiritual focus, but all that seems to be lost. However, I am thankful to God that Jesus lives in me. Because of Him, I have His power to resist temptation. Whether temptation lurks in my head or come disguised as something else, the new life that Jesus gives is able to  conquer all enticements. He works in me to put to death my selfish desires so sin cannot hook up with me.

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