Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? – Romans 6:16
Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15
This tragic passage teaches us that sin, which initially shocks, becomes less shocking if it is mulled over in our mind and heart. Initially, Hazael questioned how he could be as cruel as Elisha described him. But after mulling it over in his mind, for just a day, he decided murdering Ben Hadad was well worth receiving the kingship.
But it isn’t just a heinous murder such as Hazael committed which becomes less shocking if we mull it over in our mind. Every type of sin imaginable becomes less shocking the longer we think about it. It was Thomas a’ Kempis who pointed out, “First there comes to mind the bare thought of evil, then a strong imagination thereof, afterward, delight and evil motion, and then consent.” That is why it is so crucial to flee from sin and to focus in faith on Christ.
If we don’t flee from sin, we will be captivated by it. James brings that out clearly: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).
Scripture warns us that we are either a slave to sin or a slave to Christ (Romans 6:16). By God’s grace may you and I have Christ as our Master, our Savior and Lord, as we flee from sin!
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for the fruit of the Spirit, including self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), asking God to help you focus on Him and not the temptations that are put before each one of us.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Ted Gray has served as pastor of First United Reformed Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois for the last 15 years.