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Sin never stands still—it either grows or withers

Unsplash/Julio Rionaldo
Unsplash/Julio Rionaldo

Dan Delzell, in a riveting blog from a decade ago titled, Google Executive's Tragic Death Sends Somber Warning, wrote the following: 

“How do you go from being a devoted father of five and a successful Silicon Valley executive, into a 51-year-old man convulsing from a fatal dose of heroin on your 50-foot yacht, with a prostitute walking over your dying body to take a final sip of wine before leaving you to die?” 

He then presented the question, “How do tragedies like this take place?” 

One step at a time

First, the enemy rarely pushes us off the cliff, so to speak. We’re often led down one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at a time. 

For example, the enemy doesn’t show a couple the pain and anguish and the years of regret that adultery brings; he deceives them with the temporary enjoyment of sex and a false sense of freedom from responsibility. 

If the full story was known beforehand, no doubt different choices might have been made. We’re often not shown the pain that sin brings, we’re enticed by the temporary pleasure.

The battle within

Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two ​influences​ are constantly fighting against each other. 

As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. In other words, our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ are constantly at war. 

Don’t be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment.

An unforgettable analogy 

A story I heard illustrates this truth: “A young man, determined to find help for his troubled life, walked to a neighboring church. He told the pastor that his life was meaningless and in constant turmoil. He wanted to make better choices but couldn’t.

He described the conflict: "It’s as if I have two dogs constantly battling within me. One dog is evil, while the other is good. The battles are long and difficult; they drain me emotionally and mentally.” 

Without a moment’s thought, the pastor asked, “Which dog wins the battles?” Hesitantly, the young man admitted, “The evil dog.” The pastor looked at him and said, “That’s the one you feed the most. You need to starve that dog to death!”

What we embrace eventually embraces us

One of the reasons why men and women struggle with lust or anger is because they feed those emotions continually throughout the day. It’s difficult to avoid illicit sex and outbursts of anger while continually watching media programs that promote them. 

As a matter of fact, many cases of sexual violence can be traced directly back to pornography. What we embrace eventually embraces us. “The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil” (Matthew Henry).

Who controls you?

Romans 8:6 says that if our sinful nature controls our mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls our mind, there is life and peace. With God’s help, you’ll begin to control your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

For those who are skeptical about the media’s influence, consider why companies spend millions of dollars on commercials. They obviously understand the concept of “suggestive selling.”

Why walk willingly into the enemy’s camp

In the end, the choice is yours when it comes to what you watch and listen to, but why would you willingly walk into the enemy’s camp? Why would you feed wrong desires and thoughts when they do nothing but war against the soul?

If you’re questioning God’s existence, experiencing violent bursts of anger, struggling with addiction or lust, or continually feeling depressed or discouraged, evaluate your diet of television, movies, the Internet, music, friends, and your thoughts in general. 

Are they lifting you up, or pulling you down? Do you have a powerful devotional life that consists of prayer, worship, and the reading and studying of God’s word? This is how you win the battle within.​

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at shaneidleman.com or wcfav.org. He is the author of Feasting & Fasting, If My People, Desperate for More of God, and Help! I'm Addicted. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch. You can also follow Pastor Shane on the new free speech platform Parler https://parler.com/profile/ShaneIdleman/posts

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