Cultural influence has created an environment where we are made to believe that to accept all things which don't cause obvious harm and at the same time make us "feel good" is how we should live. This worldview preaches tolerance and wants us to think that by being open we are being more God-like. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Temptation is the very act of doing something to make ourselves feel good without regard for the others it affects. In fact, temptation rationalizes that whatever we do to create our own happiness will inevitably be best for everyone. It rationalizes away our sins and believes its own lies. Real happiness can only come from truth and living an authentic life. Sin eats away at the core of our being, deteriorates our self-esteem and corrodes the lives of those we touch. The insidiousness of the darkness is its danger. As we slowly consume the fruit of evil, believing that we are nurturing ourselves, we are actually ingesting a cancer which will continue to grow and kill us. The only way to free ourselves is to remove the tumor which has now become a living part of our being. We must be willing to cut off what we believe is a limb. This is a painful process and we resist with all of our might. Yet, when we eradicate the disease, only then will we experience the freedom and peace which allows us to see how very trapped we were. Only though healing are we able to realize the severity our illness.
The best way to avoid the trap of sin is to stay on the straight and narrow path. This involves a daily process of self-examination, prayer, meditation, and the regular interaction with those who share our faith. This process may involve daily scripture reading, worship services, or another form of devotional time. By reminding ourselves of the truth, we are more able to discern that which is false which can only lead us astray. By nurturing our lives with the Word of God, we can have confidence in our actions as they reflect the divine teachings. We must make a commitment to living a Godly life and consistently fill our lives with goodness and light. We must avoid the darkness and firmly place barriers around ourselves to prevent the infiltration by the evil of this world. The conscious effort to protect ourselves from evil will allow us to continue to grow as we walk in the illuminated path of truth.
Spiritual blindness is a condition by which we justify our sinfulness by saying such things as "I prayed about it and this is what God wanted me to do." We see only what we want to see. We tolerate the grey areas through our "irrationalizations." We begin to do things which compromise our integrity, yet we are not aware that this compromise is occurring. We gradually wander into darker areas and acclimate ourselves to the darkness. It is a gradual and insidious process, but before long we may or may not realize that we are now living on the "other side" of the spiritual tracks. When we stray from the light and the truth, we have lost our virtue, our honor, our self-esteem and now find that only emptiness remains. The life has turned to death and the hope to despair. Something is missing. We feel a hole in our lives, but can't quite figure out why or how to fill it. So, we end up doing more things which we believe will make us feel better, but only make things worse. Whereas once we had a foundation to hold us up, now there is nothing to support us. We walk in darkness and can be quite oblivious to the effects on ourselves and on those around us.
How do we escape from this trap? How do we restore our sight and fill the emptiness? Often, the realization only comes when we reach such a point of despair that we "wake up." There has to be some point of crisis where we are confronted with the reality of our sin. Then, it is only when we see the contrast between where we are and where we want to/should be that we begin to take responsibility for our actions, seek forgiveness, repent, and move back to the life we walked away from. This process does not happen spontaneously nor independently. It is usually experienced in a community of believers who help to guide you back through concern, prayer, and guidance. When we again taste the sweetness of living in God's will, we then are made aware of how bitter our lives had become.
Staying on the straight and narrow path takes persistence and commitment. Yet, who wouldn't want to be devoted to living such a fulfilling life? The rewards are endless. There is no downside to living a Godly life. Because it is "straight and narrow" the world views it as limited, restricted, and boring. The path may be narrow, but the joy it brings is infinite. The peace is unbounded. And, the life is ETERNAL.
© 2000 Jennifer N. Ayers, Starr-Rhapsody Creations. No part of this article may be printed or copied without written consent from the author.
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