Michael’s Meditations




You may not hesitate to display various trophies of your spiritual warfare: ‘There was a time when I could not go by the nightclub without being pulled inside by my own lust; but thank God, now I have conquered that sin and I do not even give those places a passing glance.’ But the Holy Spirit comes to contest such a victory with several questions.
a) How long have you mastered your lust?
Let me remind you, some lusts do not return as fast as others. The river does not always move in just one manner. Sometimes its level rises and sometimes it falls. And although it does not ever rise when it falls, it has not lost its forward motion. Now the tide of lust is sometimes up and sometimes down; the man may seem to run successfully from it, but it can return to him around the bend of the meandering stream of sin.
Who would have thought Pharaoh could be caught in another mad fit after his good mood had agreed to let Moses and his people go? Yet this is what happens when a crisis or temptation comes to our port like an easterly wind and brings in the tide of lust to break upon us. Our souls can be as clear of lust as the bare sands are of water; but in just a few moments we can be covered by deep crushing waves. The longer the banks held, the better, of course, but even if you never again outwardly fulfilled your lust, would this be enough to clear you of hypocrisy? The question is, WHY are you trying to stay free of these sins?
b) What is your motive?
The thing which keeps you from the tavern now may be worse than the lust that drew you there in the first place. The money you save by not guzzling colorful cocktails — are you now spending it on finery that only feeds your pride? You have only robbed one lust to sacrifice it to another. Was it God or man, God or your pride, or God or your reputation which motivated you to change? If anything but God prevailed with you, hypocrite is the name that fits you more than it did when you were a drunkard. Maybe you have laid down this sin — good! But why? Did you hate it and love God, or does the wrath of God make you to afraid to continue in it?
You have put down evil, but have you taken up good? Only a foolish farmer plows his ground but never plants. It is not the field clear of weeds, but fruitful grain, which pays your rent and brings gain. So then it is not ‘non-drunkenness’ or ‘non-uncleanness,’ but rather holiness and pure love and unfeigned faith which prove you sound and bring evidence of Christlikeness for heaven.

Now, my words. Difficult words to swallow, but truth often is. I find in my own life, that sorting out the intricacies of my own sin, of parsing my own weaknesses, in my own endeavor to holiness that these words ring true. Perhaps you will too. It is not enough to simply refrain from sin — that is only half of the equation. The other half is why, for what purpose, and will you replace refraining from sin with doing the will of the Father, which is the other half of the equation. Repentance + walking obediently = righteousness, so long as it is done out of a love for God and a hatred for sin — especially our own. This is what you call dying daily — as Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

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John A. Rudich
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