One of my kids downloaded a virus to our home computer recently. Not the kind that just sends out annoying emails to all your contacts, mind you, but the kind that installs programs that give third party hackers full access to everything in your computer. It was a mess. After a significant (and fruitless) period of time trying to clean it with software designed to detect and remove these kinds of threats, the only solution was to choose a restore point several days before the infection, trash everything that had been done after that date, and to return to a ‘virus free’ point in the computer’s history.
After the drama was over, I learned that the files were downloaded along with a game that the offending offspring wanted to play…even though everyone in the family has been repeatedly warned to avoid the giant flashing “download now” buttons that frequently appear in the ads on gaming sites. Clearly and plainly, we’ve told all of them that those are just invitations for hackers to take over our system and steal our data. Of course, he knew what we had said, but thought it would be OK because he had heard good things about it and “really wanted to play the game.”
As we stand at the very beginning of a brand new year, I wonder how many of God’s people will over the course of the coming months make the same kind of error in judgment and voluntarily invite something critically harmful into their lives because they allow immediate desire to override what they know to be true?
The obvious scriptural example of this kind of shortsightedness would be Esau, who willingly downloaded a quick meal of bean soup, thereby giving full access to his birthright to a conniving younger brother. Thinking themselves more discerning than Isaac’s bumbling oldest son, believers ironically make the same myopic mistakes. God’s Word warns of the dangers of illicit relationships, materialism, pride, unforgiveness, the pursuit of wealth, and a whole host of other dangerous attitudes and behaviors, and yet too often we deliberately “click” to install them anyway … “just this once” … because we think we’re immune to the consequences.
Unfortunately when the damage is done, we can’t easily reset our lives to go back and undo the destruction. And we need to remember there are certain things that we can never un-say, un-see, or un-know, and just like Esau realized too late, sometimes we feel the effects of ignoring scriptural directives for a lifetime.
But be assured, God hasn’t left His children to be controlled by every random desire that peaks our interest. With the Holy Spirit residing within your heart, you are never defenseless. As Joseph fled his master’s wife in Egypt, you also have the power to metaphorically (or literally) “close the web page” and turn away from temptation.
Remember that as New Testament believers, we are assured that Christ broke the power of sin through His death and resurrection, and through our faith in His work, we are no longer slaves to it either. (Rom. 6:6; 14) We can, through His power, live righteously and in every situation, choose to obey.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13