Lately I’ve become increasingly more aware of the enemy’s subtle tricks and deceptions in my life. As someone who works in ministry as a vocation, it is easy to get into a comfortable routine of thinking that I’ve adopted a kind of lifestyle that is free of the “obvious” and “outward” sins of the flesh. In other words, I’ve become good at making sure that someone observing the way that I live my life would not view me as hypocritical or one who is living in sin. This is in no way to say that I don’t sin on a regular basis. I’ve found, however, that I often subconsciously slip into a state of being comfortable with the daily choices I make and the way that I think. In so doing, I let my guard down and forget to keep my unholy desires – those which the Bible calls “the desires of the flesh” in check. I would like to suggest that this is precisely what Satan would like me to be doing.
Perhaps this merits a bit of explanation. I think Satan wants Christians to exchange those sins which have certain “stigma” attached to them for those which are more easily swept under the rug or overlooked. What if instead of being sexually promiscuous or lost in substance abuse, I am looking at pornographic images on the internet behind closed doors, or frequently overeating? What if instead of cheating people out of money in order to acquire wealth and material possessions, I refuse to help those who are poor and hungry, inwardly assuring myself that they would certainly spend my hard-earned money on drugs and booze? The bottom line is this: sin is sin. If we are committed to crafting a lifestyle that is free of obvious wrongdoing, the enemy has the wiles to creep into our lives in ways that are much more subtle, but equally as devastating.
In light of the fact that I am so easily deceived and lured into a false sense of satisfaction with my walk with Christ, I’ve learned that I must continually keep myself in check. I have to set up systems of accountability and remain rooted in the piercing truth of scripture. The moment I become convinced that I’ve got the Christian life figured out – that I’ve achieved a satisfactory level of perceived righteousness – I’ve given Satan a foothold. The moment I begin to view my “success” as a follower of Christ through the barometer of public opinion, I have allowed myself to completely miss the mark. I’m convinced that God desires righteousness and integrity in our innermost being in order that it might spill over into our outward actions, transforming us more and more into His likeness every day.