"I destroy homes, tear families apart, take your children, and that's just the start. I'm more costly than diamonds, more costly than gold; the sorrow I bring is a sight to behold ... Just try me once and I might let you go, but try me twice, and I'll own your soul.
"When I possess you, you'll steal and you'll lie. You do what you have to just to get high. ... You'll lie to your mother; you'll steal from your dad. When you see their tears, you should feel sad. But you'll forget your morals and how you were raised, I'll be your conscience; I'll teach you my ways.
"I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate from friends. I'll take everything from you, your looks and your pride. I'll be with you always, right by your side ... I'll take and take, till you have nothing more to give. When I'm finished with you, you'll be lucky to live.
"If you try me, be warned this is no game. If given the chance, I'll drive you insane. I'll ravish your body; I'll control your mind. I'll own you completely; your soul will be mine.
"The nightmares I'll give you while lying in bed, the voices you'll hear from inside your head, the sweats, the shakes, the visions you'll see; I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
"But then it's too late, and you'll know in your heart, that you are mine, and we shall not part. You'll regret that you tried me, they always do, but you came to me, not I to you.
"You knew this would happen. Many times you were told, but you challenged my power, and chose to be bold. You could have said no and just walked away. If you could live that day over now what would you say?
"I'll be your master; you will be my slave, I'll even go with you, when you go to your grave. Now that you have met me, what will you do? Will you try me or not? It's all up to you. I can bring you more misery than words can tell. Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell" (Author Unknown; poem about addiction).
The flesh—although it feels comfortable and natural at times—is not a friend to be trusted. Puritan author John Owen writes, "Secret lusts lie lurking in your own heart which will never give up until they are either destroyed or satisfied."
"For the carnal mind is hostile toward God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be" (Rom. 8:7). Enmity is not just an enemy. An enemy can be reconciled; enmity is in direct opposition to God. In short, the flesh says, "Feed me so I can destroy you ... destroy your health, your relationships, your soul."
C.H. Spurgeon warned, "Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us."
Most never experience God because of idolatry. Our idols knock, and we open the door. Commentator Klyne Snodgrass states it well: "Mention of the 'schemes' of the devil reminds us of the trickery by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap."
It's often not until after sin has accomplished its purpose that we see its destructive path. Only by comparing thoughts and actions to God's Word can we have the insight to see beyond the circumstances.
Being tempted isn't sin—surrendering to it is. Temptation is also an opportunity to do what is right by turning from it. First Corinthians 10:13 states, "No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."
This "way of escape" is ultimately what tilts the scale toward the fully surrendered life. When we flee temptation, turn from sin and seek God, the by-product is the filling of the Spirit. The door of temptation swings both ways—you can enter or exit. If we choose to enter, once inside, we may not see the exit sign so clearly again.
Here is a short clip on the danger of addiction and idolatry.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.com. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org. Follow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.
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