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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Control Yourself (Part 3)


Text: Philemon 1:24

Illustration: There is a story about a man who fell to his death from the face of Stone Mountain in Georgia. It seems that this man had climbed to the top of the mountain on one of the hiking trails. When he got to the top, he wanted to peer over the edge, so he began to move slowly in that direction. Since the top of the mountain was rounded, he was too far down the face of the steep mountain before he realized it. When he tried to go back up, he found the face too steep to climb. He clung to the side of the mountain unable to go either up or down until all of his strength ran out and he fell to his death.

When we first met Demas, he was serving alongside Paul and he was commended for his service. When he is mentioned here, he is still with Paul, but something seems to be wrong now. There are no glowing words of commendation. The Bible simply says “…and Demas.” It seems that Demas was still reporting for duty, still putting a good face on things, but his heart was not in it like it used to be. This change in his heart will soon show up in the rest of his life. The day will soon come when Demas will walk away from the work of the Lord.

I am sure this was a slow process in the life of Demas. I do not believe that he woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll become a backslider today.” No, it was far more subtle. Perhaps Demas allowed himself a little leeway here and then a little there and before he realized it, he was under the control of his passions and not under the control of the Spirit of God. He learned the harsh lesson that “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” Galatians 5:9.

One of our first problems is that we listen to the temptation of the flesh. Then, the next three steps follow shortly thereafter, and they are "easy."

B – We believe the deception of the flesh. In our spiritual world something has happened. Deception and belief have joined together, and sin is conceived.

A – We act out the sin. Now, it moves beyond contemplation to implementation.

D – We discover death, which is the consequence of our sin. It’s the same for Demas as it is for you and me. It is not physical death, but death of a much more subtle kind. Death to a tender conscience. Death to sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Death to usefulness in the kingdom of God.

Isn't this how it is for most of us? Sin does not become full blown in an instant of time. It is something that grows insidiously until it consumes our very lives. This is the lesson of James 1:14-15. When you start down the pathway of playing around with sin and temptation, you will find that it is a slippery slope with a very hard stop at the bottom!

[more tomorrow...]

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