I did it to myself. I chose the wrong path. I saw the sign with the little black diamond and thought I could handle it. “After all, I’m a decent skier.” (If you aren’t laughing yet, you should be.)
After just a few yards, I realized I had made a terribly dangerous decision. The hard-packed snow felt slick as ice. If I fell, I wouldn’t stop until I hit bottom. I had visions of my body lying broken and bleeding at the bottom of this precipitous slope. So, I did the only thing I could. I carefully – and prayerfully – sidestepped back up to the top of the run. I didn’t care what people around me thought. My life was at stake!
Warning about the world and its ways
The apostle Paul knew that sin, like that black diamond ski run, is a slippery, dangerous slope. In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, he warned them about the danger:
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Eph 4:17-24, NIV
Most of the Christians in Ephesus were Gentiles. They had indulged in immorality and gave themselves to sexual excess. But then Jesus saved them and God called them to turn away from their former way of life and embrace a new life in Christ – a life of righteousness and holiness.
We become desensitized to sin
Paul warned the Ephesian believers about the great danger of returning again to worldly behavior. Sin is a slippery slope. The more we give ourselves to immorality, the easier it is to yield to it. Our hearts grow insensitive and hard. Our thinking becomes darkened and futile. We move deeper and deeper into sin and farther and farther away from God.
We see this biblical truth played out in the world around us. As people become desensitized to the current level of sin and immorality the culture must sink to a new low in order to shock and titillate. Then when people have accepted that as normal the culture takes another step down.
Our enemy wants to sweep believers along with the world. Satan helps us rationalize participating in popular culture. “It’s not as bad as…” “It’s only fiction…” “I need to know what everyone is talking about…” Then when we become desensitized to that, he tempts us to take another step away from holiness.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a symptom of a deeper problem
Last week, I posted a blog asking why Christians are reading the best-selling, erotica novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I had many comments on the post, on Facebook, and Twitter. Most took a stand on the side of holiness. Many admitted that their Christian friends or family were reading it and raving about it. And a few said we shouldn’t judge. (By the way, I feel strongly that speaking out against what God calls sin is not judging. Watch for a post about this topic on Wednesday.)
Christians must actively pursue the holiness God desires. We must purposefully and continually choose to reject our old, sinful ways of the world and obediently follow Christ. Reading this book or welcoming other immoral ideas into our minds is like standing at the top of a black diamond ski run. It could be the beginning of a dangerous journey.
We must carefully guard our hearts and minds because the world constantly clamors for our attention and devotion. If we don’t we just may end up at the bottom of the slope.
In what ways can we actively pursue holiness? What precautions can we take to guard our hearts and minds against sin and immorality?