Years ago I heard a sermon by a preacher speaking to young preachers. I have never forgotten the wisdom of his words. I’m so thankful he dared speak about such a personal and necessary subject.
The message was the four ways that Satan tempts us. He talked about the flesh, how we use time, but the one that struck me the most was what he said were the last words Satan speaks to a Christian.
These are the words you never want to hear: “Now look what a mess you’ve made of your life.”
Our Lord is not the accuser or condemner–Satan does that.
It is Satan who deals in accusations, shame, and guilt. He leaves us in a state of despair, regret, and with a belief that there is no good way out.
God, on the other hand, deals with us with compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and restoration.
Recently, I’ve been reading devotionals by John Kincaid. Kincaid’s theme has been how Satan uses our desires against us. Kincaid makes a compelling argument. The first temptation in Genesis 3 was about the desires of Adam and Eve to be like God. Satan used those desires.
In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him with His desires– the desires to feed the hungry and to make God known.
Jesus, of course, sought to please God rather than to please Himself.
Kincaid agreed with the preacher I heard as a young man who said that Satan finally says to us, “Now look what a mess you’ve made of your life.”
Kincaid says the demons tempt us with our desires, help us cover them up, and in the time of our greatest vulnerability reveal them for everyone to see. By doing so, our Christian testimony is destroyed – “Now look what a mess you’ve made of your life.”
I’ve seen this played out in peoples’ lives over and over.
The sermon I heard years ago was to help us never get to that point.
What can we do so that it doesn’t happen?
First, we can live in the presence of God. When you recognize that nothing is hidden from God, it makes all the difference. Then, you’re not trying to hide your sins from other people. You recognize that God knows and that all sin is first and foremost against God.
Second, deal with your known sins quickly and decisively. Confess it and ask God to forgive you.
Third, make repentance a part of your confession. I see many Christians who get tripped up at this point. They do confess and they do ask forgiveness, but then they fall back into the same pattern without ever really dealing with their rebellion.
Repentance means you renounce your sin and that you want to have nothing else to do with it. This is a powerful and decisive step.
I’ve often said, “Repentance is hard, but it’s sweet.” It’s sweet because it puts you where you need to be with God.
May it be in your life that you never hear those awful words.
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