by Pastor Tim Burt
1 Tim. 1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
Today’s Fresh Manna verse has a phrase that is not used in our day-to-day conversations and that sounds unusual and funny - “vain jangling.” Have you used that phrase lately? It may sound funny but it’s actually an indicator of a sad event – the backsliding of a Christian.
One of the most important lessons that every Christian should learn as they grow in their walk with the Lord is how backsliding happens. I am sure that the majority of people have heard the frog in the kettle illustration at least once if not numerous times. It goes like this. If you put a frog in a boiling kettle of water, it will try to jump out. It knows it’s in danger. If you put a frog into a kettle of room water at room temperature and then turn the water up slowly till it boils, it will stay in the kettle unaware of what is happening to it until it has slowly boiled to death.
That is a good illustration of what happens to Christians. If a Christian is tempted with blatant sin that is contrary to what they know God’s Word says, it’s easily recognizable and they would most likely resist it. But that isn’t how it usually happens.
The first mistake Christians make is that they think they are strong enough in will power and intelligence to manage temptation and sin. What they don’t realize is that sin is more than the sin itself. Sin is accompanied by spiritual power often compared to in the Word of God as “darkness.” We see this in Eph. 5:8-9 “For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” This verse is saying that before a person comes to Jesus, their heart if filled with darkness. That darkness is the power of Satan to blind one’s heart to the truth. You see this in 2 Cor. 4:4 “Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them.”
When a Christian participates in what they know according to the Bible is sin, then they are opening the door to darkness in their life. It is more than just looking at pornography. It’s more than just having sex outside of marriage. It’s more than just a little gossip, or lie, or unforgiveness. It’s opening the door to the god of this world to begin to blind and darken the heart. Christians will NEVER have the power to manage or accommodate sin. Sin produces a darkness in your heart. God gives you the “light”—the ability to recognize sin and avoid it and recognize what is of God and draw near to it. God gives you the grace and mercy to resist temptation or to ask forgiveness if you blow it. His love always wants to draw you back to Him, but sin played with is the power of darkness at work that turns you into the frog in the kettle. It’s the dimmer switch that turns the lights out so slowly you don’t notice it until you have lost your ability to see clearly.
It’s at this point that a Christian can no longer see God’s Word clearly and begins to muddle it with worldly and self philosophies that become “vain jangling” meaning random babble. It turns a Christian from a person that knew the greatest truth in the world; that Jesus Christ is the Son of God—who died for each and every person’s sins, offering eternal life and a life of purpose and blessing on earth—and instead becomes the person that is full of nothing more than random babble; a fool filled with foolish thoughts that is on a path to destruction.
None—not one of us—is able to manage sin. If you know you have been engaged in sinful activity but you don’t feel guilty about it, it means your heart has become hard. If you do feel the guilt, God does not want to condemn you. In either case, you have to get on your knees, talk to the Lord about it, ask Him to forgive you, receive that forgiveness, resist that sin going forward, and don’t be the frog in the kettle. Don’t be a vain jangler. Don’t be deceived. Instead, follow the instruction of Eph. 5:7-8, 15-18 “Don't participate in the sinful things these people do. For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it…So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you."
Don’t slide back from God. Move toward Him and His love! You were created to speak the wisdom of God, not vain jangling. So do it!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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