Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18, 2012 … Strongholds of Sin

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Genesis, Chapters 19-21 … To study these chapters, go to this link -

Focus Passage - Genesis 20: 1-3: … [Recurring Pattern of Sin] 1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman."

Recalled Reference Passage - Genesis 12: 11-13: … [The Genesis of Abram’s Sin Stronghold] 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

My Journal for Today: Wow … déjà vu all over again! Out of my chronological reading of the Bible (today from Genesis, Chapter 19-21), one scenario involving Abram, now called “Abraham,” jumped out at me; and that is the focus passage above (from Gen. 20: 1-3). It hit me because here we see Abraham involved in a set of life circumstances which was very much like that when he had moved down to Egypt earlier and became fearful as to what the Pharaoh might do to himself (then called “Abram”) and Sarai, his wife. So, now – in today’s focus passage – Abraham and Sarah (both with changed names) are in Gerar, an area in the Negev desert ruled over by King Abimelek. And here is Abraham, fearful again; and we recall what he did back in Genesis 12: 11-12 [copied above], reacting out of fear, rather than responding out of faith, by telling the ruler that Sarai was Abram’s sister. And so what does Abram (now Abraham) do when he’s fearful of what Abimilech might do as they enter this ruler’s domain? You guessed it! He reverts back to his old sinful scheme and tells the king Sarah is his sister. Reminds me of the old saying: “Oh the web we weave when we practice to deceive.”

One commentary on this Genesis 20 passage (copied above) reported the following (from Parsons QuickVerse Life Application Study Bible): Abraham had used this same trick before to protect himself (Gen. 12:11-13). Although Abraham is one of our heroes of faith, he did not learn his lesson well enough the first time. In fact, by giving in to the temptation again, he risked turning a sinful act into a sinful pattern of lying whenever he suspected his life was in danger. … No matter how much we love God, certain temptations are especially difficult to resist. These are the vulnerable spots in our spiritual armor. As we struggle with these weaknesses, we can be encouraged to know that God is watching out for us just as he did for Abraham.

This commentary really struck home with me because for many years of my life I was in bondage to a pattern of recurring sinful living which had me habitually reverting to sinful patterns of cover-up (i.e., lies and deceit) to live a “Dr. Jeckyl – Mr. Hyde” lifestyle. To the world I presented myself as “Mr. Goodguy.” But in reality, I was “Mr. Badguy,” deeply into hidden patterns of sexual sin. And it was not until I surrendered my life to Jesus (as my Lord and Savior) that I was able to bring my life into a surrendered pattern of self-control and Godly behavior.

But as with Abram, who became Abraham, God was merciful and forgiving with me. My Lord, and Abraham’s God, knew that we (Abe and me) could, and would, have a life which conformed to His purpose and for His glory; and so, God let us – and led us – through these recurring patterns of sin to show us that we must surrender to His will and live His way, according to His word, in order to be – and to become – the men God had purposed us to be.

My friend, we all have strongholds or personally vulnerable areas in our lives which are comfort zones of sin, into which it is so easy for us to slide, … sinful patterns which seem to give us emotional protection. For Abram/Abraham it was this pattern of lies involving Sarai/Sarah. For me it used to be the recurring pursuit of sexual pleasure. For others it might be addictive patterns, like the use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. For others it might be reacting in raging anger, or the opposite, … surrender into submissive passivity. For others it might be the adrenalized pursuit of excitement in dangerous sports or compulsive gambling. But Satan picks up on our weak and vulnerable - and sinful - patterns of living; and he will pour gas on these embers of sin, trying to make them roaring fires of worship for his way rather than of God’s way.

I would hope that we all can come to recognize or weaknesses, confess them, and surrender them to God, allowing Him to turn our pursuit of the flesh into a Godly pattern of pursuit of fruitfulness as we surrender to the Lord’s way rather than revert to our strongholds of weakness. That is my prayer today.

My Prayer Today: … Lord, give me Your insight to see my weaknesses of the flesh; and to turn them into strengths of fruitfulness for Your glory. Amen

No comments: