Fifteen years old, handsome, talented, smart as a whip, and committed to God—he was every mother’s dream son. He was involved in a before-school accountability group, kept his way pure by reading and studying his Bible, and had position in the local youth group, until … the world did a two-step on his head. It started when the youth leader decided to invest more time in someone else, and ostensibly excluded him. To many of the activities he had previously planned, he was not invited. But at the same time, a beautiful young girl transferred into his high school. She was a year older than him, and all the guys wanted to be with her. Hope against hope, she chose him . . . why, he couldn’t even believe it! Enter the slippery slope of compromise. They started sneaking out of youth group, doing things they oughtn’t do. Feeling guilty, he put a little space between him, God, and Christian things in general. Compromise ensued. Little by little, month after month, he lost his desire to maintain his commitment to God. Twelve years later, he is far from God. I know because he is my first-born son.
When we choose not to live for God, we set ourselves up as our own god. It is true. Think about yourself … without God as your arbiter, things are different, you know that. Think about other people you know or have known . . . Truth becomes relative, morality subject to the mores of the day. Once on the slippery slope, we become rudderless.
“God gave them over,” Paul wrote. He gave them over to their desires and to a depraved mind. A depraved mind can no longer form right judgments. Paul closes out his chapter one discussion on who and what they became--it is not a pretty picture:
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not
proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of
evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy,
unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that
those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the
same, but also give heart approval to those who practice them. Romans 1.28-32
‘A bleak view of human nature, isn’t it? Well, human nature might give expression in any of the above sins when God is absent. After all, why refrain from gossip or slander? Why tell the truth when telling a lie is sometimes much easier? (My mama used to say, ‘Tell the truth, Girl, and shame the devil! ‘Makes me smile now)
Why strive for humility rather than arrogance . . . only because of the desire to honor God. We all know basic right and wrong, but we choose otherwise, often feeling okay because we compare ourselves with someone who is ‘worse’…’more sinful’. (Kinda’ like a woman walking into a roomful of other women; she feels okay
about herself if she is at least thinner than several other women;
otherwise, forget-about-it.) But God doesn’t grade on a curve … do you understand? We are not comparing ourselves to ‘other women in the house’ or someone else who is more sinful than us! Our righteousness, or lack thereof, is compared to his standard of holiness.
Even though their sinful behavior may warrant death, Paul notes, they persist in their lifestyle, and applaud others who make similar choices. And then, because it is uncomfortable to choose to openly sin and hear the Word of God, it is easier to stay away from church and Christian friends. Consequently, sin gets easier; it becomes a way of life.
Thankfully, we are not rudderless. We serve a living God, and it is our desire to honor him with our lives.
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