Last night, I gave into a temptation; an old habit and sin that made its way back into my life for a short moment. As soon as it happened, I felt shame. I lay across my bed later on and prayed hard. I said, “God, I don’t want to be a slave to sin again.” My pledge was that the next day, today, I would keep my mind focused on Him more than I ever had before. I had been forgiven for my slip-up; now, it was all about figuring out how I’d never slip up again.
I’m so relieved, as I think we all are, to serve a God who forgives. In Matthew 18:22, Jesus tells us not to forgive seven times, but seven times seventy. So it doesn’t matter how many times you mess up; God still forgives you. God still loves you. So is this whole seventy times seven deal a free pass? Act now, ask forgiveness later? No! It means that when our best isn’t enough, God will forget that we made a mistake. That in itself is a very beautiful thing. When our best isn’t enough, we are off the hook.
So how do you do your best? What does it mean to do all that you can for Jesus? Is there some secret to success? There’s something to be said, but it’s no secret. By salvation, you’re adopted; by adoption, you’ve been forgiven. When you’re saved from yourself and from sin, you’re no longer a slave to sin unless you choose to be.
“But Jessie, temptation is so strong!” I know. “It’s fun!” I know. “Giving in is so much easier.” I know. Sin is like going to college; have fun now, pay debt later. A lot of times, it’s fun to drink. Drugs, sex, and anything to fit in, it can be fun. But those student loans — that price for fun — will show up demanding payment. Isaiah 3:10 says, “Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned!” And honestly… Could there be anything more joyous, more “fun,” and more satisfying than something that God made and what He has in store for us?
Sin is not worth the moment’s fun, we’ve got that. But what about the temptation? How do we avoid it? The truth is, we don’t. You would have to separate yourself from the entire world to avoid temptation. It will always be there. So the question is, how do we face it? How do we stand strong against it? How can we resist? Satan is often called the Tempter. So when we’re fighting temptation, we’re really fighting him. He’s out to get us in any way possible, and he will do anything it takes to turn us away from God. Our battle isn’t against temptation, but rather, it’s against him.
Temptation only becomes sin when we give into it. Consider in Genesis, when before sin was even in existence, Eve saw this beautiful fruit and wanted it. Again, sin did not exist. Eve sinned when she gave in. Sin brings death. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Curiosity killed the cat,” doesn’t it? Before we can resist temptation, we have to make the decision to do so. We have to consciously sit down and tell ourselves, “My soul is not worth earthly pleasure.” That alone will raise your defense tremendously. You make a decision, and then you stick by it. Then, we must remember that God is love, and love conquers all. With God, Satan doesn’t stand a chance in leading us astray.
Ephesians 6:10-11 is one of my favorite passages concerning this subject. It says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s schemes.” So here rises another question: What is God’s armor, and how do we obtain it?
I see the walk with God as a building process of a house. You’re given a foundation when you receive salvation, and you’re meant to seek God for the bricks. You will get bricks from Him, and the more bricks you build with, the stronger your house will get. Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs… Houses of straw and sticks aren’t strong. But the brick house, the one that takes the most work and commitment, will always stand. Build your house from the bricks of God, and you’re far more likely to stand against the winds and tides of the world.
If you don’t, if you fail, it’s okay. Jesus said, “Forgive seven times seventy!”
Earlier, I was cleaning out our bathroom closet. Every few years or so, I get tired of the mess, so I started cleaning out today. I had a black garbage bag full of just junk. But as I was cleaning, I found a necklace my friend’s mother gave me a year ago. She gave it to me after I told her how I got saved. And she said, “Wear this so you’ll never forget.” One side said ‘Hope,’ and the other said ‘Faith.’
In this world, it’s easy to sin. It’s easy to forget, easy to give up. We’ve heard that the way is narrow, and few will find it. But God’s love shines above all else, and He never ceases to forgive if we only repent. And it’s never too late to ask. It’s never too late to start building a house. It’s never too late to say, “My soul is not worth a moment’s pleasure.” And if I were wrong about everything else, I would be right on this: God LOVES you. And it’s never too late to seek Him.