Countercultural

Look Deeper, See Clearer, Run Harder

The Devil Comes Slowly

“Why, Lord?” I asked in frustrated prayer.

Lion

Photo Credit: Chris Eason

Within a day of each other, I heard of two Christian leaders who failed morally. I didn’t understand why so many stumble down this path. Gently, I heard the reply: “The Devil comes slowly.”

The enemy of your soul

In the Bible, a ferocious picture is painted of Satan.

1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Have you ever looked up the word “prowl?” Here it is: To move about restlessly and stealthily, especially in search of prey.

Restlessly and stealthily. The devil constantly tries subtle means to draw us away from God. These lies start small. No leader who faithfully follows God will look at sin one day and say, “Sure, why not?”

That’s the problem with deception: You never see it coming. Before you know it, it’s too late.

The erosion of the soul by the deception of sin leads to our destruction.

How to avoid moral failure

Why would God record many of the moral failures of His people in the Bible? If He wanted people to believe the Bible, wouldn’t He rather skip over those moments?

Not according to the Bible.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12
These things happened to them [in the Old Testament] as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

God’s Word is the best way I know of to avoid traps of sin. It may sound ‘Old Testament’ to talk about the fear of the Lord, but think about it. If you lived aware of an all-knowing, all-just God, you wouldn’t pursue “secret” sins. The people most apt to be deceived are those who feel impervious.

Here are a few other ways we can safeguard our lives against the slippery slope of deception.

  1. Recognize your weakness. Loneliness and fatigue are inevitable; don’t keep an invincible mindset.
  2. Remember to rest. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually, no one can go at 100% all the time. Rest isn’t an obligation; it’s a gift.
  3. Bare your soul before others. Share everything with one or two friends who love you enough to speak the truth, and listen. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). As Oscar Wilde wrote, “A true friend will always stab you in the front.”
  4. Bare your soul before God. It’s a powerful exercise to spend time with God and ask, “What do You want to purify in my life?” When I ask honestly and listen, God is never silent.

In all this, realize our goal is to safeguard, not moral perfection. Jesus commanded, “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48), and the Bible plainly says, “No one is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). In other words, we have to be perfect, but we can’t.

This is where the Gospel comes in. As Tim Keller says, “You are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope.”

Anyone who believes God’s grace gives a license to sin doesn’t know God. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

David understood God’s character and moral failure. His heart cry in Psalm 139 should echo in the heart of every leader.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

What do you think? What other principles or practices help us avoid moral failures? Leave a Comment