Let us suppose that the government forced you to live with a known traitor. Not just any villain, but someone who sought your ill. A person so consumed with self gratification that he would not only have you condemned to death if only he could fill his hearts lust, but would not give a second thought if you were cast into Hell. What a grievous situation this would be? Would anyone feel comfortable in such an environment? Would you not always be on your guard, praying to God for strength and protection? Only a fool would be careless, knowing that such an evil lurked about his abode. The truth of the matter is that we all, every one of us, live with such a foul person. This malcontent is called the old man, and you shall dwell with him all the days of this earthly life. How does the knowledge of this fact affect you?
To my mind, this is an important element in why we as Christians are to live a life of separation from the wicked. Yes, the antithesis is so important in this day and age. We must never forget our need to be separated in service to the Holy One of Israel. We as God’s people are called to be Holy as God is Holy. Practically this is impossible of ourselves. The old man is with us unto the end. We must rely upon the righteousness of another not only for our salvation, but also for our sanctification. Even if we are unable in this present life to hate sin as we ought, we are responsible nonetheless to keep far from it. The truth of our inability to remain unspotted from the world, apart from the grace of God is a strong motivator to flee from the appearance of evil.
Not only does scripture warn us to not trust in our own strength in fighting against our sinful inclinations, but it gives us examples of great men of faith who, for a time, did trust in the arm of flesh. We have the example of righteous Noah who became drunk, and that after so great a deliverance. How about the example of Moses who was lifted up in self-righteousness at the waters of Meribah? What about the man after God’s own heart, king David, who not only committed adultery, but murder? How about the rock, Peter, who denied his Lord, and also fell pray to the opinions of the Jews. Who of us can say, “I am stronger than they? These may deny thee, Lord, but I will never deny thee?” Take heed that ye stand lest ye fall!
How may we learn from our fathers? What do their errors teach us? Noah rather than walking humbly before his God overindulged in wine and thereby encouraged the transgression of his son Ham. Moses the meekest man left his goodly course and lifted up with pride, smote the rock twice. Thus he manifested his sinful nature by being disobedient to his God and Redeemer. King David was cast down at his own home, by looking upon a woman other than his wife. He did not turn away his eyes from beholding vanity, but with lust in his heart he committed adultery, and then completed the course that ended in murder. Peter also lifted up with pride and feeling that he could stand, was cast down quickly by his adversary.
The common factor in the falling of these men was they left the straight and narrow, by trusting in themselves; being unmindful of the old man within. They took their eyes off God, and did what was right in their own eyes. Any time we walk in a way contrary to God’s Word, we then leave the narrow path that leads to life. Surely God will protect and preserve us no doubt, but to be so bold as to disregard his precepts is to invite a great fall accompanied by the heavy chastening hand of LORD. Just because we are on the path does not guarantee that it will be smooth and easy. We often find difficulties on the road that leads to life, which we must overcome. We may be doing our Christian duty when along comes a great temptation. Sometimes we are called to fight, at other times to flee. How we react to these situations on the path also determine whether we stand or fall. In some situations we are to fight such as against the sinful inclinations that war against our soul. Other times we are commanded to flee, such as when overtaken by the temptation of fornication, or idolatry. In general, we are to avoid all that would tend toward sin. If a situation does not look God honoring, it is best to stay far from it.
We must with all of our might strive to live a life of purity and chastity. We must do all within our power to abide by God’s Word, with strong prayers and supplications that God would defend his name by keeping us from sin. As we are doing so it should be with great earnestness, as we each with all of our hearts desire Christ’s honor and glory. We must be bold to admit our weaknesses, not trusting in our own ability, or holiness, but beckoning God to fill us with his Holy Spirit that we might stand against all of our foes. If we think we can stand strong when Noah, Moses, David, and Peter could not, we deceive ourselves. Our Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 127, expresses our duty in this area very beautifully:
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;” that is since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory.
Stand on your guard knowing that not only do you face great and powerful enemies, in the world and devil, but that you also have one within you. And this fiend is a relentless enemy that never sleeps, but tirelessly conceives of new ways to satisfy himself while causing you misery. Cling dear fellow saint to the Word of God; seek to be obedient always, for we know that it is better than sacrifice. Keep in the heavenly path, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Do not trust in your own strength to fend off the traitor within, but trust in the Almighty, knowing that he will make you more than a conqueror in this battle. Forget not the importance of those of like precious faith. As our father David had his Jonathan, we ought to turn to our brothers in Christ to help and encourage us in this struggle. Let us fight the good fight of faith under the banner of the Captain of our salvation. May we stand upon the watchtower of our souls by abstaining from all appearance of evil, so that we shall not be cast down by the traitor within. May God give us grace. ❖