Have you noticed that once we make the choice to sin, it gets easier and easier to commit that sin again in the future?
Patterns of sin are self-reinforcing. When we start down the path away from God, we’ll slowly but surely be co-opted into a mindset that not only accepts sin, but embraces it. Think about a situation where you acted sinfully, or sinned by failing to act when you should have. Our minds are brilliant at building up justifications and rationales for sinful behavior, all of which makes it a little bit easier to repeat the sin when we’re next faced with the opportunity.
This devotional from Today in the Word refers to this condition as spiritual Stockholm Syndrome, and says that the only defense is actively go on the spiritual defensive, taking every thought captive for Christ:
…without growing in the knowledge of God, we can easily be deceived and co-opted by the evil of this world. We must guard our sympathies so that we don’t find ourselves in league with “lawless men”.
In this final chapter of his letter, the apostle Peter provided three reasons why we should grow in the knowledge of God. First, evil is real, present, and persuasive. The arguments of those who scoff at the notion of a holy, loving God might make sense to those who “deliberately forget” the word and work of the Lord. The temptation to follow their own desires seduces many into rejecting the knowledge of God. Peter knew that even believers struggle, and he urged them to be on their guard, a picture of active vigilance against sinful lies.
Consider your actions today, this week, this year. Do they illustrate a person whose every thought process is captive to Christ? Or have you drifted off the path and been co-opted by selfish impulses and desires? Praise God that no matter how deeply we’ve become enmeshed in sinful thought processes, God can lift us out of the mire.