So, the other day, I had one of "those" moments. One of those moments of clarity. One of the moments where you say, "oh... duh.... I get it now!" And (gasp!) one of those moments where I look back on my childhood and say, "oh, I get it now. I understand why Mom and Dad discouraged x,y,z". So, here's the epiphany...
"Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil-- the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live this way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature." (Ephesians 2:1-3a, New Living Translation)
This is why my parents were always on my case about knowing my friends, making sure I didn't date non-believers, making sure I had church friends, etc. It didn't click until the other day (yea... 15 years later!) that non-believers are controlled by the devil! What better way to get a follower of Christ to sin and fall away than to be a nice unbeliever, who befriends a Christian, only to slowly infiltrate the Christian's mind and heart with things of the world? Wow! What a scheme! What a genius plan! It is sooooo easy to think that you will be strong enough, or that you can stand for what is right. And, in a lot of cases, I'm sure that most Christians are; but, it's the little things, the tiny compromises that you make with the world that add up eventually, and all of a sudden you are drowning in sin and you don't know how you got that far away from what you believe.
The song, Slow Fade, by Casting Crowns is a great example of this. Every time I hear this song, I end up crying. It is so true! Here are some of the lyrics: (just to to http://www.castingcrowns.com/ to hear the song)
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade
I know it sounds harsh to say that all people who aren't following Christ are controlled by the devil, but Scripture is very clear about it! Unless you have a relationship with Christ, you are open to the schemes of the devil and follow your own selfish desires. Wow. We need to make sure that we protect and prepare ourselves and our families for this! I think so many Christians focus on being "in the world" without properly preparing their hearts and minds for the battle we face every day when we open our eyes in the morning. Now, of course we need to be in the world to be able to evangelize, but that doesn't come without risks. We need to make sure that we put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) to be able to properly protect ourselves from the schemes of the devil. Because, believe me, he is scheming... he wants you, me, and everyone else to believe his lies and to fall away from Christ, one compromise at a time.