We all struggle with sin. We all have to deal with worldly temptations on a daily basis. The question on my mind today is do we really understand the extent of our own total depravity? I recently had the opportunity to watch the Pilgrim's Progress animation by Revelation Media, and one thing that stood out for me is how Apollyon (which signifies subjection to worldly forces) refused to stop attacking or attempting to deceive Christian even when Christian was mere seconds away from entering into the Celestial City (that is heaven).
If we try to live without Scripture as our guiding principle, it won't take us long to start going astray without even realising we're veering off the straight and narrow path. In Greg Bahnsen's 'Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended' he writes:
All of reality (every aspect thereof) must now be seen correctively through the instruction of Scripture. To refuse to see things through these gracious spectacles is to destroy the intelligibility of man's experience and to undermine knowledge; it is to insist on foolishness and blindness.
I've come to realise that this principle applies to all spheres of life and that our sin is so infectious that we can't do ANYTHING without somehow twisting and turning it against God. Bahnsen was writing on how without the corrective spectacles of Scripture, the actions of man will result in an idol set up against God. Satan works in cunning ways and he's not called the deceiver for no reason. I'll start my attempt to get my point across with an initial and obvious way Satan deceives: That is by making you believe that Scripture reading, prayer and church attendance isn't really important and that if you do manage to do any one of these, he'd attempt to make you content with less than is appropriate. Let me illustrate this in a list form:
Satan doesn't want you to read Scripture
If you read Scripture, he would want you to be content with reading only a little each day or week
And if you read Scripture as you should, he'd try to make you doubt in the things that you're reading
And if you're not doubting things he'll try to make you over-confident and prideful in your faith and knowledge
The illustration above is an attempt to show that at every point in our life as Christians we will be assaulted: the deceiver will attempt to deceive us and he will not rest.
I only recently realised that this trouble we face can go incredibly far and stretch into all the sphere of our lives: that even the Christian's battle against sin can become an idol. We might desire freedom from sin more than we desire Christ, and you know what? Satan loves that. He is absolutely fine that we desire freedom from a particular sin so long as we don't desire Christ in the same way that satan is also fine with Muslims worshipping a false God or atheists starting to believe a god: It doesn't change a thing for the sinner! The irony is that sometimes we can become so caught up in our fight against sin that we forget that it's not a fight we can win. The Bible never teaches that by doing X and Y we can free ourselves from sin so that we can come to Christ. No! Look at what the Bible teaches:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did...
Freedom is found in Christ. The object of our desire should be Christ and Him alone. We know this truth yet we are so easily led astray. Jesus said that the Son is the one that sets free. We can't free ourselves from our sin and neither should we desire freedom from our sin more than we desire Christ. Rather we must realise and hold fast to Jesus' promises which includes that by desiring Him, He will also grant us freedom. Hand in hand with the above, Jesus also taught that we should abide in His Word and only then will we know the truth that can set us free. That is the application I was making to Bahnsen's quote above. How will you ever know whether you're on the right track without being confronted with the truth in Scripture as often as possible?
If you think Christ abides in you when you don't pray, don't abide in His Word, don't have the desire to go to church then you haven't been set free. This Jesus clearly said as well: If we are Abraham's children, we would be doing the works of Abraham (that is the same as bearing good fruit).
We need to be on constant guard. The human heart is a factory of idols and we can even make idols of seemingly righteous things! This was my motivation for writing this article to you today. We usually think of idols as something obviously bad like desiring sport more than God, TV, work, money etc. Rarely do we realise that ANYTHING can become an idol. We need to examine our desires.
So, examine your desires, what is it that your heart longs for? Do you desire to be free of sin more than you desire Christ?