You have heard stories like this, I'm sure. We all have. But then we start asking questions. How can someone who loves God so much, end up in prison? How could she do that to her children? Why was that wonderful Bible teacher defrauding people and being deceptive in his business affairs?
The easy answer (and an incorrect one, probably) is to assume that the professing Christian was really a false convert. After all, if he were truly saved, he would not sin. Doesn't the Bible say that when a person is a Christian, he won't sin anymore (No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9 ESV)?
We also know, on the other hand, that many of those who have fallen, really did manifest evidences of God's grace in their lives. I know a man who, at this time, is living in serious sin. This man was one of the best Bible teachers I have listened to. He taught us well, and God mightily used him with his giftings and teachings. Yet, today, he is a 'Christian casualty' as he stews in anger and bitterness toward another pastor whom he worked with at one time. There is no question in my mind that this man had a solid relationship with God. We are always asking ourselves, 'What happened?'
What happened really is simple. A couple of things are involved though. One is that we really don't understand the nature of sin. Another is that we have relegated the Gospel into a formula, rather than a relationship. But one of the main things is that a person who has fallen, has left an area of his life unguarded and the Enemy of our souls took advantage of it.
To start with, sin is not just breaking one of the commandments. This is kind of scary, because we do use the 10 Commandments as a mirror into our heart. Perhaps we aren't doing it properly though. For example, the sixth commandment says, 'You shall not murder'. Almost everyone who hears those words thinks they haven't broken that commandment because they haven't 'murdered' anyone. The same way with the commandment which says, 'You shall not commit adultery'. Some people will say that they are not married, so therefore they haven't committed adultery yet. Others have never had an affair and perhaps are happily married. They think they are exempt from breaking this commandment. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sin is the fabric of what we are made of.
There was a song out in the late 60s called, 'Evil Grows' (sung by the Poppy Family). It was an insightful song. Here are the words to the chorus:
Evil grows in the dark
Where the sun, it never shines.
Evil grows in cracks and holes
And lives in people's minds.
Evil grew, it's part of you.
And now it seems to be,
That everytime I look at you
Evil grows in me.
Sin is like a disease of the soul. The Bible says, 'The wages of sin is death...". Sin kills us, spiritually speaking. But sin is not just the outward behavior, it is the working of our heart. Sin begins in our hearts, and results in our behaviors. We can still sin in our heart, and not act it out (lusting sexually, coveting, bitterness, pride, etc.). Sin is not necessarily what we do, but it is whatever our heart is craving.
I fear many of the evangelism methods we use, especially when the Gospel is explained by using steps. We are given 4 or 5 steps to teach us how to go to heaven. We are missing the concept of becoming reconciled to God and developing a relationship with Him. Yes, we do have to deal with our sin, and we do have to trust in Christ. But if it isn't presented right, it just ends up being a formula that people can obtain or follow in order to go to heaven after they die. God is a person, not a religion or a means to an end. God created all of us to have a relationship with Him. We can have that now, because He sent His Son to die in our place, to take our punishment. When we repent, turn to God, and trust in Christ, we are now in a relationship with our Creator. This is God's intention for us. And we will go to heaven after we die, if we truly know Him.
When a person comes to Christ, that person is now a target for the devil. Whether we like it or not, we enter into the war zone when we are born again. Satan will be looking for opportunities to tempt us to sin (the devil can never make you sin. But he knows where you are vulnerable to temptation. He also knows where you can be deceived.).
A person is much like a house which has several windows. All the windows and doors need to be shut and locked. This is how we guard our hearts. The problem is, we don't know where all those windows and doors are, but as we grow in sanctification, God will show us more and more of our hearts, and we will begin closing more windows and locking more doors.
Christians fall, simply for these reasons. We can look at a fallen brother or sister and wonder how in the world they fell into sin. They are probably wondering the same thing. We can, so easily see the sins of other people. We assure ourselves (and others) that we would never do that. We probably don't want to do the types of sins people get into trouble for. But, we all have some open windows that the devil has access to, as far as tempting us to sin.We have to keep our hearts completely guarded, or else we will be surprised.
The Bible tells us to be sober and vigilant because our Enemy, the devil, prowls around like a lion, waiting for someone he can devour. We don't have to be afraid, but we do have to be vigilant.
No, we don't have to be afraid of the devil, but we do need to guard our hearts, or he will find an entry and will tempt us to sin, in ways we never thought of. But, no one compares to God in power and might. God's Son, Jesus Christ, overcame sin. He is the 'Lion of Judah' and the 'Lamb of God'. He will give us the power to say 'no' to sin and 'yes' to righteousness.