Many people’s idea of the devil is that which they see portrayed on television: red, with horns and a long tail, holding a trident. In truth, he is as invisible as he can possibly be.
The way that evil seeps into a person’s life is very subtle. But slowly and surely, it tries with all its strength to progress and grow in influence while going unnoticed. The devil sets traps in moments of temptation and downplays the result of falling into sin, which is spiritual death.
Those born of the Holy Spirit should not fear evil, but we cannot afford to underestimate the devil. He tries relentlessly to manipulate God’s children into becoming less like God and more like him, through the suggestions he plants in our minds. If we nurture the thoughts that come from evil, we construct a path towards our downfall.
The greatest indicator that something is wrong in our spiritual lives is our conscience. If we search deep down in our minds, we can discover if we have been harbouring evil thoughts, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. The right thing to do is to eliminate them, before they grow bigger and escalate into greater problems in the future.
That is why nobody falls into sin immediately: it is a process – like a candle being consumed slowly until it loses its light. Those who have fallen, cherished a desire born from an evil thought, long before they fell into sin.
If there is no repentance, the result is spiritual death. But the effects of evil are not limited to the individual who has committed the sin. It spreads and affects the people around us: loved ones, friends and spiritual children (those we helped raise in the faith and who look up to us). They too will suffer the pain of our sin. They will end up losing the admiration and respect they had for us. Even the word of God will be questioned because everything we did and preached will seem to be pointless because we did not withstand the suggestions of evil.
When you are tempted, think about your salvation but also think about the people around you who will be affected if you fall. Your downfall can have the potential to cause their downfall as well. Think about everyone you are going to disappoint – this will help you to stay on your toes. Imagine having people lose their salvation because of your bad testimony.
The responsibility for our own salvation lies with us, but since our sins contribute to the downfall of others, we are also dooming them to the same fate. Imagine your spouse, children, family members or friends losing their salvation because of a few minutes of selfish desire. Can you live with that thought?
“…sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)