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The Sin of Proximity

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray. 2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV

Temptation begins in your mind. Eve, like most of us, was not just standing in the garden trying to figure out a way to disobey God. That is until that old devil planted the thought. I'll say it again, "Temptation begins in your mind." It was Satan that suggested that Eve eat the forbidden fruit. The initial thought to do evil is not always from you. It is the product of a deadly mixture of compromise, habit, and hell.


Our new nature does not come up with ways to rebel, but somehow, they always seem to be there waiting. Adam was not looking for a way to get into trouble. He had the perfect gig. Beautiful wife, great job, intimate relationship with the Father . . . how did it all go so wrong?

The devil studies you the way a coach scouts the upcoming opponents. He pores over the films of their games, identifies tendencies, and exposes weak spots. In much the same way, the devil is constantly at work to identify our weak spots.

He is able to lay the perfect stumbling block, not because he can read your mind, but because he is been watching you and listening to your words. He knows shortcomings. He knows which temptation has the best chance of succeeding because he knows your tendencies.

But before you feel all defenseless and get discouraged, God gives us this assurance: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NAS).

With every temptation, God offers a lighted exit sign. The key word here is with. While you may never be exempt from temptation, you can always be victorious over it.

How often have you ended up saying "I promised God and myself that I'd never do that again," yet you did it. That's because Satan knows what works on you.

I can remember times in my life when I have said, "God, it seems like every time I try to follow you, I fall flat on my face. "

I'm so grateful I heard God's answer, "Keep following me son, at least you're falling in the right direction."

There is a promise of victory available to those of us who will make a commitment to finding a place of intimacy with God rather than making a careless commitment to compromise. When I hear people ask "How far can I go before an action is sin," they are already falling victim to the sin of proximity.

I am sure Eve did not want to disobey, but if you stand too close to the tree there is a likelihood the enemy of our soul has thought to plant for you -- but more next week, on the sin of proximity.



All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41

Last week we talked about Eve and Adam. We agreed they were not just standing in the garden trying to figure out a way to disobey God

Unfortunately, even when you are not looking for disobedience, it has a way of coming to look for you. Basically what I am trying to say is, if God says, "Don't eat from the tree at the center of the garden"

Don't hang out by the tree. It is a simple as that.

The truth is that God has created us with boundaries. When we cross those boundaries we start sliding down that the slippery slope that leads to fall and failure. God's word is full of boundaries. Tonight were crossing sheer cliffs of a dangerous mountains range from Tbilisi. Georgia to Batumi. on a rickety Soviet train. Never was the old saying more true, "a  train is free only as long as it stays on the tracks." I am so glad that on one of the steep climbs, this "little engine that could" does not start looking for shortcuts.

But isn't that exactly what we do so often? The sin of proximity happens when go off the tracks, We allow ourselves to be enticed to sin, not avoiding events, people, places, objects or anything else that we know will stir up compromise and temptation in our thoughts and minds.

When you come into contact with an occasion for sin, what do you do? Do you "Flee temptation," or pitch your tent there? That is the six of proximity. When we commit a sin of proximity, we are setting the stage for overt sin to follow.

We are prone to lie to ourselves. "I am ok! I am in control. There will be no consequences." We think we can play around the edges of sin without actually acting on it. This thinking is self-deceptive because sin has tremendous power and, if entertained, can overwhelm us. How many times it did Sampson toy with sin until he did not even realize that the Holy Spirit had left him? He found himself helpless in the face of the escalating consequences of playing games?

Don't be deceived into thinking that avoiding places and things is a cop out or evidence of weakness. Some say that the difference between heaven and hell is the distance from your your head to your heart, 18 inches. In Genesis we read the life of Joseph. He saw his protection from the advances of Pontiffer's wife was two feet away. He used both feet to run from the temptation that would have destroyed him. That was not a cop out, it was strength and faith in action.

Avoiding the people, events or things that tempt us is vital to being victorious. This is not a "formula for success." If that was the case, we could trust the formula and not God. Rules are only tools to enable us to better love Jesus. The real key is to stay in fellowship with Him—to "give strict attention, be cautious and active ... and watch and pray."