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- Jacob Ninan
Sometimes when things are going well we forget that we are all in a spiritual battle. The intensity and the subtlety of the battle depends on how close we have come to the Lord, the closer the stronger. Our enemy, the Devil, is just waiting for opportunities to trip us up when we least expect it, or to catch hold of one of our weaknesses to pull us down (1Pe.5:8). Thank God He is there to protect us and to make sure that we are not tried beyond our ability and also to provide us help in the times of testing (1Co.10:13).. But it is not automatic that just because God is our protector we won't get tempted or that we will have a cakewalk.
God wants us to treat this battle very seriously because He knows how weak we are. He tells us several times in His word to be sober minded, to be vigilant and alert, and to watch out for the attacks. He also tells us to protect ourselves with armour so that we will be able to stand without getting hurt and also to overcome (Ep.6:10-13). When we find ourselves doing well, we tend to think that things are safe and to relax on the putting on of this armour. The Devil is watching to see which part of our armour is open and swoops in to attack. Therefore God tells us not to take our safety for granted (1Co.10:12).
What opens up our armour is usually little compromises. We tend to think seriously about 'serious' sins and assume that little compromises are tolerable. After all, we think, it is such a small thing! "Everyone does it, we can't be perfect, we have to live in this world, etc." What we don't realise is that we are opening up a small part of our armour and the Devil will be quick to use that access to push in with more serious and subtle attacks.
When we are born again, God gives us a growing hatred for sin (1Jn.3:8,9). But then we have to maintain this attitude of hatred towards sin, and we are exhorted to 'consider ourselves to be dead to sin' (Ro.6:11), 'put off the old self' and 'put on the new self' (Ep.4:22,23). What happens when we make compromises is that we allow the old attitudes to take root and grow again.
Looking at it another way, imagine temptation is like a door to be opened, with posters announcing the offers inside. The first door appears to be rather innocuous, but once we open that door and enter inside we find that there are other doors beckoning us with greater offers. If we hadn't entered the first door we would not faced the next door at all; now that we have entered through the first door we find ourselves already weakened and less able to resist the further doors.
Every temptation starts in our thoughts, and it is when we compromise here that we find ourselves in temptations that appear to be too strong for us. Let's not fool ourselves thinking, "It's only a thought, I am not really doing anything!" By allowing thoughts of temptation to dwell in our mind, we are developing a wrong attitude towards sin. Let's not offer ourselves as sitting ducks to the Devil.