Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "The Lily Of The Valley"1 (Lyrics)
Today's devotional title may remind you of a bad dream: the nightmarish experience of losing control. What I have in mind is no dream. It's the actual world that we experience: the horrifying absence of brakes on sinful desire — like greed, revenge, and lust for domination. Beneath all that are ever-deeper layers of malignant evil which hurl humanity into turmoil. Driving it all is the destructive and deceitful agenda of the evil one.
So today, we reflect on the sober reality of sin's "brake failure". That can inspire us to affirm God's power and provision, and declare:
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NIV)
We see an example of sin's "brake failure" as far back as Cain, who murdered his brother Abel. Cain had failed to get a handle on his anger; it metastasized into unstoppable vengeance. Undeniably, sinful desire lacks brakes and defies moral boundaries; that's why it's so evil!
- For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. (Proverbs 4:16)
Evil desire is bent to dissolve humanity into formless chaos. Meanwhile, the natural world submits to established boundaries, to divine order which God created out of chaos!
- I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. But … their evil deeds have no limit. (Jeremiah 5:22,28)
The menace of evil drives us to God, pleading, "Deliver us from evil!" for God alone can set boundaries — through both judgment and grace. Grace is what preserves the penitent, "who through faith are shielded by God's power." (1 Peter 1:5) Our job then is to:
- …take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
Can you see how faith serves as a brake for evil? The refining of our faith trains us to deflect lies, and that's what shields us from the poison of deception:
- Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Through growing faith, we develop courage to set personal boundaries, so that we don't get sucked into a destructive vortex. That seems to be the idea of this proverb:
- Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered. (Proverbs 22:24)
I trust that these thoughts today help to underscore the sober reality of sin's "brake failure" and thus our need to grasp and foster God's provisions of grace — personally, and corporately.
Prayer: O Lord, train us to trust Your divine power at work within us, which can provide us everything that we need to escape the corruption of evil desire and to live effectively as shining lights of Your glorious grace and goodness. Amen.