Many addiction specialists have declared that relapse is part of the recovery process. The graves of thousands have taken their advice, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Many have been set free for good, never to return to their ex-lover. The Holiday at Sea has become their eternal home. How can this be your reality? How can you have complete freedom forever? How can you have lasting joy?
In part 1 and part 2 of this blog series, we began looking at a parable Jesus told in Luke 8 widely known as the Parable of the Sower. We looked at the 3 pitfalls Jesus gives us to living in forever freedom. As we wrap up this blog series, we will look at the person in the parable who never falls away with hopes we can be like him.
Don’t Take The Bait
I have always wondered how fish can be stupid enough to sacrifice their life for a tiny piece of food. Don’t they see the shiny metal thing on the string? But, this is exactly what many of us do. The devil and the world work together to tempt our flesh with mouth-watering instant gratification. The bait comes in many delectable forms: the most exciting party, a rare strain of organic weed, a girl with just the right hair color, figure, smile, and the perfect personality, or a job that will make all your wildest dreams come true. Temptations have perfect timing to pop up when this whole following Jesus thing isn’t going your way.
Instant gratification is alluring, but it comes with a price. The bait the devil is dangling has a hook in the middle of it. The initial taste is absolutely delicious, but it doesn't last very long, because the taste of blood quickly fills your mouth as the captor pulls you in a direction you never wished to go. My plea to you is to not take the bait. No matter how tasty it looks, we must remember the hook. It will drag you out of the Living Water you love and need.
Temptation works in a predictable progression. First comes the initial desire, which progresses to a lingering thought, which materializes into an action. First, you see that piece of cake, but your will power helps you resist. Soon, you find yourself thinking about the icing and the sweet sprinkles on it. Lastly, you eventually eat the cake. This works in all areas of our lives. First you have the desire to get high again, then you dwell on it without telling anyone, and then eventually you’re at the crack house. First you see an attractive person who isn’t your spouse, then you begin daydreaming about how it would be to be intimate with them, and then you have the affair. Rather than allowing this progression to have it’s way in our lives, we must kill it before it ever becomes a reality. We must kill it at desire! When we see the enticing bait, we must pray, confess and do whatever it takes to not take the bait. Our very lives are on the line!
Hope For The Future
Although the opposition is fierce, Jesus does not leave us without hope in the parable. “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” He says there is a pathway to remaining faithful and fruitful forever. To these people, he promises a life that impacts the world a hundredfold what anyone could have thought or dreamed. This is a promise God loves to make good on! Are you one of those people?
This doesn’t mean you will be perfect, but it does mean you’ll give Him your all. You will walk boldly in your identity as a child of God. You’ll be saturated in Christian community as a part of a church. You’ll drink deeply of Jesus every day through spiritual disciplines and an intimate relationship with God. You’ll live on mission, seeking to serve others with your entire life. And you will stay vigilant against temptations. It won’t be easy, but the reward will be worth it!
God can and will keep you on the right path. Jude closes his epistle with, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (verse 24). In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6).
Justice Has Been Served
The question begs to be asked, but what about when I mess up? The reality of life is that at some point we will all fall short in one way or another. Our past will rear its ugly head and we may find ourselves back in those familiar handcuffs sitting in a random airport. What should our response be?
The one thing that allowed me to go free from that predicament on my honeymoon we discussed in the first blog in this series wasn’t that I had read my Bible that morning or that I had just gotten married or even that I was a preacher of the Gospel. The one thing that allowed me to go free was the fact that justice had already been served. Those charges were null and void because my lawyer plead my case to a judge who smacked the gavel and declared me to be forgiven of all my past charges, including this arrest warrant.
If you are in Christ, Jesus has pled your case to the Judge and He has declared you innocent. The gavel has fallen and every single charge that has come against you has been taken care of, based on what Jesus has done on your behalf. When your past rears its head or you fall short, drag your case back to the Gospel! Just like when those officers removed my cuffs, your God will remove your chains and restore you! You are free forever because justice has already been served.
Do you feel like you have fallen away? Run back to God, knowing that justice has been served!
How is life going to look if you continue to stay faithful to Jesus? Spend some time journaling about the “hundredfold” life that Jesus is promising you.