Marijuana is widely regarded as a "gateway" drug, which leads some users to experiment with more serious drugs. In a similar way, every time we sin against God's commands, we commit a "gateway" sin. That is to say, our sin often leads us to engage in other types of sinful behavior.
Sin becomes a gateway for the human soul to receive "the stuff of hell" rather than "the stuff of heaven." Just consider how this plays out in everyday life. A sinful thought makes it easier to spend more time dwelling on unholy things. Sinful words make it easier to become even more unrighteous in the way we speak. And sinful deeds become a gateway to various types of sinful behavior.
In that sense, we never really live a "neutral" spiritual life even for a moment. We are either "flowing down the river" of sinful desires, or we are flowing in the wellspring of God's living water. And the most miserable people on the planet are those who know the Lord, and yet still pursue certain sins with premeditation. It feels like you are trying to go in two opposite directions. No wonder such behavior produces deep agony and restlessness within the soul of a believer. (see Psalm 32:1-5)
The ultimate "gateway" sin is unbelief. This sin opens the floodgates for every other sin under the sun. And so when a person repents of his sin and trusts Christ for salvation, the "gateway" of unbelief is closed, and the flood of God's living water comes rushing into the soul. Belief in Jesus as Savior is the only gateway to a relationship with your Creator. (see John 14:6) This connection with the Lord through faith brings forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a friendship with God. What could be better?
In your life today, what is the direction of the spiritual flow? Do you find yourself diving into those things which God forbids? Or are you enjoying what the Holy Spirit is producing in your heart as a child of God? Where do you find your joy? Is your soul flowing in the direction of sin, or in the direction of God's will?
You say, "A little of both." OK. That's honest. And it's also a common experience for all of us who know the Lord. We experience the power and flow of the Holy Spirit, as well as the reality of sinful desires. In fact, they are in conflict with each other on the inside of us. (see Gal. 5:17) And yet, the victory is ours through Christ. We are forgiven, and we are motivated by the Holy Spirit to do those things which please the Lord.
True and noble spirituality with the Lord isn't merely about what you did yesterday, or what you want to do tomorrow. It's about the flow right now, in this moment. As we keep our hearts and lives open to the working of the Holy Spirit, our spiritual lives tend to flow in the direction of peace and righteousness in Christ. But whenever we dabble with sin, it becomes a gateway to even more sinning. That's just the nature of the beast.
We are either surrendering our heart and soul to the Lord and His purposes, or we are engaged in some mental, verbal or physical pursuit which is contrary to the will of God. And in those instances, it's like moving from marijuana to cocaine to heroin. One addiction can lead to another, and then another. That's the way "the flow" goes, not only with drugs, but also with every sin known to man.
Is there hope for sinners like us? Definitely, but only as we remain under the wellspring of God's living water. This spiritual waterfall is flowing 24/7.
Our dilemma is that we sometimes drift away from that place of peace into a pattern of sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. Rather than obedience, songs of praise, prayer, Scripture meditation, and joyful service, we become enthralled with something which can never meet the needs of our soul, or please the Lord who died to save us.
Once we start moving in the wrong direction, we don't tend to put the brakes on until after we have passed through several gateways and engaged in a variety of sins. We go on a binge. We fall off the wagon. We lose our proper focus. And we need to get back to that place of concentration on the One who loves us, and back to the Word He has given us to build and strengthen our faith and our resolve.
Watch what happens in your life today, and then again tomorrow. If you keep an eye out for those gateways, you will start to see them all around you. In fact, you will be amazed at just how often you pass through a holy gateway, or an unholy gateway. And either way, you will want more of the same.
Only the Lord can place within us those desires which please Him, and which lead to freedom, joy and ultimate fulfillment.
Here is a good idea going forward. Live in the moment. Live for the Lord. And experience the peace which passes all human understanding.
No matter how you slice it, God's way is the only gateway which leads to soul satisfaction and eternal salvation.