I have volunteered for many Christian organisations over the last thirty years, reaching out to individuals who are searching for answers to life’s most complex situations. Not that I have all their answers, but I do own a compass that points them in the right direction.
What I find the most intriguing about my encounters with people when they cry out for help, is how quickly they cut off the correspondence when I uncover a possible root cause to their problem that requires some fresh decisions if they truly want to be set free from the strongholds that are destroying them.
Somehow, the encouragement they receive from me does not match what they were hoping to hear.
Many come pretending to seek direction, but what they really crave is permission to continue in sin. Turning from sin requires Holy Spirit disciplines, and for many, that is the last thing they feel like doing.
Looking back on the sin from my own past, I can relate to what it feels like when your mind is in a vice grip of the devil and you succumb to his lies and deception without much conviction or after-thought.
But the devil’s vice grip doesn’t hurt. It is engineered to fit comfortably so we are not inconvenienced or irritated by any humiliation or embarrassment.
The vice grip leaves us feeling numb to everything that contradicts or violates the commands of God. We like to hide inside its false security where the environment is free from any accusations or threats. We get acclimated to the comforts of sin’s secrecy, proud that we are pulling one off because we deserve what we desire.
The Bible reminds us that there can be pleasure in sin. But the Bible also declares that sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25). When that season is over, and sin has found us out, we are left feeling bitter and destroyed. The devil does not mention the end of our story during our time spent in the grip. Why should he? He would rather prep a sinner for more entrenchment where the stakes are higher and the consequences are greater. To own us is his most sought after prize, where his victories are made when shame and humiliation are rewarded to us.
Genesis 4:7 (BSB) tells us “sin is crouching at your door; it desires you, but you must master it.” Why does partaking in unrighteousness tantalise the flesh so much? Because our fallen nature is sinful by habit. We were born in sin.
Satan numbs the pain of sin on our soul. Is there anyone who can deny their attraction to “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”? (1 John 2:16 NKJV) If we denied our attraction to sin, we would be liars.
One would not engage in sin if it were so unpleasant. No one jumps into a lions’ den headlong knowing death will occur. No, sinners are more prone to selfish gain: an adulterous affair, theft, monetary gains, sexual indulgence, lying, cheating, stealing, deception, etc. Sin always has something in it for me.
So how does one unlock this vice grip, and where does one go to escape the consequences of their own bad choices? Jesus spells it out for us in plain English; repentance. Recognising sin for what it is, and humbling ourselves before God to ask forgiveness opens the doors to heaven for God to come in cleanse the stain of sin from our soul. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 ESV).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV).
If a person has been granted an escape from sin through the shed blood of Jesus and refuses forgiveness because they feel above the need for a Saviour, they remain sitting in prison with the door unlocked.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).
There is beauty in repentance, when a sinner humbles himself before the Lord and the Lord lifts him up (James 4:10). True repentance is a turning from sin and acknowledging God as our sovereign and righteous king.
We have a role to play in our redemption. We pray and confess our sin. But the real test is our willingness to turn away from sin and obey the Lord. Christ Himself gives us the power to flee sin and seek His righteousness.
I told a story to my husband, and we discovered we are both guilty of the same actions. I described my behaviour when I encountered a reckless driver who threatened my safety, and reacted by calling him an idiot. This is not the first time I have spoken out loud in my car to a driver who cannot hear me. But here is the worst part of my reaction; I was in the middle of praying! I paused to vent my anger to this driver by using inappropriate language, and then went back to praying!!!! Oh, did I have to repent before the Lord!
After comparing our stories we laughed at the ridiculousness of our outbursts, but the reality of what resided in our hearts reminded us of our propensity towards sin, and how helpless we are without the intervention of God’s grace. It is so easy to sin, but God has made a way for us to escape his wrath on judgment day.
I thank God every day for his sacrifice on the cross to save a wretch like me. By his grace I am redeemed. I thank him that when I repent, he unlocks the vice grip wrapped around the foolishness of my heart. He lets me walk out of my prison, and sets me free. I don’t have to remain in captivity. I don’t have to remain in bondage, or remain a slave to sin. Jesus died to set the captives free. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!
By Anne O’ Donnell
Anne is from the US; she is married with four grown up children and she loves Jesus. Her passion is watching how God has multiplied her gifts and used them to bless her children and grandchildren, along with the precious souls He continues to place in her path. As a volunteer mentor for Focus on The Family Digital Outreach Ministry, she extends encouragement to those searching for hope. She has enjoyed freelance writing for many years and finds great delight in sharing her stories with others. Read her beautiful blog here: https://pagesixty4.blogspot.com