I Will Sleep In This Morning & Not Exercise: The Slippery Slopes of Our Lives

Posted: February 28, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke

Luke 11:24-32 — I make myself promises periodically to begin exercising and I am all into it for a while but when the weight loss doesn’t come, I get discouraged and quit. What little weight loss I am able to achieve by exercising goes out the window within a week or two of stopping. How easily discouraged I am about this extra 25-30 lbs that I carry around. It saddens me. I am sensitive about it. Guy friends can be the worst. Thinking they are being cute. Making little Buddha jokes here and there. I don’t want to be this way. You think I want to be this way? I want to lose this weight. I hate having this extra weight on me. As little as 10 years ago, I was a much slimmer man. Having this extra weight gets into your psyche. You begin to think it is the reason for all kinds of rejections in life. Maybe, you are not being called to the full-time ministry that you feel led toward because you’re overweight. Maybe, people don’t take you seriously because you’re fat. But yet, I try to eat healthier, exercise more often but it all gets discouraging when nothing happens. Old behaviors return because Satan tells me that it’s not doing any good to sacrifice time and effort to lose weight. Then, I settle into the discouraged state that nothing will ever change.

There are those who have battled addictions to alcohol, to drugs, that know this feeling just as intensely as I feel them. Trying to do better, but only to be defeated in the end. Man, it is tough to be in a body that doesn’t want to cooperate with your best intellectual plans.

Jesus’ speaks of a demon possessed man who gets rid of his demon and is better for a while but ultimately loses the battle is then possessed by multiple demons to the point that the man is far worse of than he was before. Jesus was illustrating an unfortunate human tendency. Our desire to reform our hearts often doesn’t last long. In Israel’s history (as we repeatedly in the Old Testament), almost as soon as one good king would pull down idols, a new king with an unrepentant heart would set them up again. Cycles of obedience to the Lord followed by cycles of disobedience marked the history of OT Israel throughout. It is not enough to be emptied of evil, we must then be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s new purpose in our lives.

It is very easy at 4:45am on a weekday morning in the wintertime to say for that first time since you started exercising that you are just going to sleep in this morning. It is a subtle thing. One day won’t matter. One day. I can get back to it tomorrow. You know in your heart that exercising makes you feel better regardless of whether you lose weight or not. I feel better from stretching and using my muscles and developing greater pulmonary endurance. I feel better for making my muscles stronger too. The benefits are there to be had. But one morning when its 7 degrees fahrenheit outside, you say this one morning won’t matter. I will get back to the plan tomorrow. One day becomes two. Two days become a week. A week becomes a month. Then, you are far away from what and where you wanted to be. Isn’t that true with spiritual temptations in life?

We can have our house swept clean spiritually speaking but yet we leave the door open to our pet sins. Flirting with that woman to whom you are not married can seem innocent enough. It makes you feel good when she winks at you or touches you. Next thing you know it becomes an obsession and adultery comes into your life. Fudging on your expense reports can lead to all out stealing from your company. Becoming so obsessed with your financial status in life can lead you to making moral compromises.

James May once said in his sermon, “Swept Clean and Garnished” that “Satan often works in some very subtle ways to cause us to slip a little. In these last days, the slopes that lead away from the throne of God seem very slippery indeed. It only takes a moment of time to slip into apathy, to slip into frustration, to slip into a comfort zone where we can’t grow, or to slip into a form of godliness, going through the motions of serving God, but it’s only a surface relationship and the power of God that once lived within us is now gone.” It is like a neighborhood that once was a beautiful place that has slowly disintegrated in a high crime area. We don’t even notice the compromises we make in our walk until we have drifted into full fledged distance from God. Is this you? Is this me? Are you fostering a sin in your life that if left unchecked will cause you destruction? The slope is slippery. One step begins the slide. One drink won’t matter. One of these pills won’t matter. One lunch with this woman won’t hurt anything. We begin the slide slowly. Romans 7:15 says it best, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Now that you are thoroughly depressed. Man, so am I. We all commit sins everyday. We do the very things that we know are bad for us and we rationalize away why we do not do the things we should do that are good for us. We need an intervention. We need Jesus Christ. We need God’s Word that tells us about Jesus Christ. We need God’s Word so that the Holy Spirit can convict us of our sins and that includes those sins that you are wanting to keep in your hip pocket. That favorite pet sin. Lord, I will give you everything else but this pet sin. I like it. Let me keep this one. The Holy Spirit will shine the light on it when we are in God’s Word. We need prayer. Constant prayer as we talked about a couple of days ago. James 4:8 tells us, “Draw closer to God and He will draw closer to you” One of key phrases that my senior pastor uses in our staff meetings and in general conversations with the staff is for us to “stay clean and close.” We cannot leave the backdoors of our lives open and unlocked at night. We must guard our hearts and souls. Don’t you find that anytime we do not exercise our spiritual muscles (reading, meditating, journaling on God’s Word, constantly in prayer) is when we become susceptible to evil in our lives. Just one step. And another. And another. We are not reading our Bible and we are not praying and evil temptations have more sway with us and we fall into sin and we don’t even notice it until the sin causes destruction.

Just as I easily do not get up one morning to exercise and it leads to not exercising at all, when we stray from the basics of spiritual discipline we drift away from God’s Word and do the very things we said we would never do. One day leads to two. Two days leads to three. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Stay clean and close. Exercise you spiritual muscles daily. Read God’s Word. Pray without ceasing. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal all the things that we need to see in our dark hearts. And above all, live in thanksgiving that we are made clean in Jesus Christ. In Him, we are made clean. In Him, we have new life. But we must give up our entire lives to Him not 97% and I keep these 3% of things that are my pet sins. We must be willing to lay bear our souls before Christ and ask Him to make us clean. We do this by staying close in His Word and seeking intimate relationship with Him daily through prayer. Clean and close. Clean and close always. Praying to God for the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and reveal to us those dark places that need cleaning.

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