May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:23).
Recently I was reading a Christian novel based on a Biblical character. Right away I could tell it was well written and the author seemed to possess a good knowledge of the culture. Suffice it to say, I was quickly drawn into the book. However, I wasn’t too far into it when I began to experience an uncomfortable feeling in my spirit.
Since everything Christian publishing companies produce is not always genuinely “Christian,” I am very cautious about what authors and subjects I spend my reading time on. In the above mentioned novel there were no obvious “sins” in the story. So I took a moment to pray about this uncomfortable feeling and asked the Lord to show me if it was from Him. It only took another page or so until I understood that this book grieved the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. He showed me that the author was endeavoring to make the reader believe that the main character’s acts of disobedience towards her parents were not only small issues, but even ones that should be viewed as noble conduct. Also, the author described her appearance (of course she was extremely beautiful) through the eyes of a man that was bordering on lustful thoughts.
The point of this story is to confess that I almost missed the Holy Spirit’s still small voice. I am constantly asking Jesus to reveal to me not only my sin but also anything questionable that is in my life. God is holy and I want to put away that which is unholy in me, that which keeps Him from drawing near. Not all books are sinful in themselves, however if we continue to read a book after we have been convicted or even skip to the back to see how it ends, that would be “flirting” with rebellion.
Charles Spurgeon in his book, My Conversion, made the statement, “I cannot [flirt] with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for His sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?” This way of thinking will greatly help to keep us from sin, compromise or even the questionable things. We need to understand that even the “little things,” the flirting, is the same evil that killed the One that poured out His life to rescue us. How can we give refuge to the enemy of Jesus? How can we harbor His murderer in our heart? We who know the truth about His costly sacrifice must not supply the enemy with a place to hide out and even thrive.
Believers who are mature and have sought to live a life pleasing to their Heavenly Father will eventually find themselves in the biggest battles in their Christian experience, the battles of the mind. “Spiritual sins” are the evils we can many times ignore or justify; sins such as pride, self-love, criticalness, evil thoughts, indulging in self-loathing, etc. Because spiritual sins are so hard to see in ourselves, we are often blind to them. This is why the danger is so great and we can easily yield to the temptation to flirt with the enemy. The Christian who would never outwardly flirt with a person of the opposite sex can at times flirt with the spiritual sins.
Using my illustration as an example let me be honest about the tendency of my heart to engage in flirtatious thoughts. When I first felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting and considered throwing the book away, I questioned whether I was just being too religious or rigid in my views. After all, finishing the book would not have sent me to hell. Following this line of thinking would have soon brought me to the point of flirting with “cheap grace”.
My thoughts then turned in another direction. If I threw the book away, I might have the opportunity to tell people about how I never finished this book and would appear spiritual. This of course is the spiritual sin of self-righteousness and to be honest this is usually my greatest temptation. Continuing on in that vein, I even very briefly considered the possibility that if I limited my reading to the Scriptures alone I could gain points not only with men but also with God. How ugly legalism is and how it disgraces Him.
These kinds of temptations should never surprise us because left to ourselves our heart is bent to thoughts such as these. We should not condemn ourselves when we experience these temptations. If however, it goes past a fleeting thought and we find that we have begun to flirt with spiritual sins there is only one thing to do – repent and kick the enemy out! Do not give sanctuary to the murderer of Jesus!
Be careful if you believe you never experience these kinds of thoughts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) We cannot discern our own hearts so we must plead for help from the Holy Spirit. Only He knows the truth about who we are. Without His revelation, we can think too highly of ourselves as the Pharisees did. The other danger is we may entertain thoughts of self-abhorrence, which is just as sinful because it is an offense against His grace and questions His power to transform His people into the image of His Son.
So why should we stop our flirting with evil? Why be concerned about the questionable things? Not because it will better our lives nor improve our relationships. These things are the benefits of a holy life, not the reason. The reasons to strive for holiness are because sin breaks His heart and because the only way to ascend the hill of the Lord is to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4). He deserves our unreserved devotion; He should receive the glory a pure heart brings to Him. In truth, throwing out a book, turning off the TV or choosing to face the truth about ourselves are not hard things to do if we are in love. Lovers never wish to grieve the heart of their beloved. True friends would never consider giving refuge to the evil that killed their best Friend.
Jessica Meldrum travels full time across the country with her husband Glenn ministering in churches, rehab programs, conferences and camp meetings. She teaches women’s groups and is a speaker for the Christian Women’s Club. Jessica’s life experiences have included foster parenting, church planting and a career as a business manager. She has also authored a book entitled Floods on Dry Ground, an extraordinary account of the Hebrides revival. For scheduling call 651-247-3979 or visit the Meldrum’s website: www.ihpministry.com for more information.