Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“External Influences, Internal Choices”

    Human beings bear complete responsibility for the sins we commit.

    “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

    We can blame no one but ourselves for unbelief and disobedience.  However, it is true that outside influences have a role in our sins.  As in the Garden of Eden, malevolent spiritual entities, utilizing worldly and fleshly means, participate in the temptations we face.

     “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).
     “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

    I find this truth particularly helpful when considering people who fall into particularly heinous lifestyles and activities.  Again, before God, no excuses for sins will hold water.  The wicked are wicked because they have freely chosen to respond to devilish, worldly and fleshly stimulations.  Nevertheless, their wrongdoing (like my own) is strongly influenced by entities from without that seek to promote evil within.  Remembering this frequently and plainly declared Biblical truth helps us to focus our attention on the source of sin rather than its vehicles of expression.  Thereby we find ourselves far more enabled to obey the Bible’s  command to bear a merciful attitude toward all, and to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

     Failure to accept complete responsibility for sin leads to catastrophic spiritual and moral consequences in the sinner.  Moreover, failure to understand Scriptural truth concerning the role of devilish, worldly and fleshly influences results in a less than adequate identification of humanity’s problem with sin.  We thus do well to remember that the sins of both saints and sinners result not only from wayward internal choices, but from wicked external enemies.  Such remembrance will help to keep us on guard in the personal sense, and promote the perspective toward others that sees our Father’s sun rising on the evil and the good, and His rain falling on the just and the unjust.

“The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
(I Peter 5:8)

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