“Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.” You’ve heard that before haven’t you? That famous line was spoken at the end of every episode of G.I. Joe (which if you’re part of my generation, you grew up watching these religiously). At the end of every show, they’d present some type of public service announcement and end each one with that phrase. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
I couldn’t agree more. I need to know how I got into my pit in order to figure out how to get out. They say that history repeats itself. Well, in the case of falling into a pit, I agree 100%. It doesn’t need to repeat itself – but unless we take the time to figure out what caused it, the likelihood of repeating it increases significantly.
So with that said, the 2nd talk at the retreat was titled HOW DID I GET IN HERE? We identified 3 ways that we end up in pits. Either we jump in, or we slip in, or we’re thrown in. Let’s break them down one at a time.
1. WHEN YOU JUMP IN: the pit of willful disobedience
This is when you knowingly make bad choices that lead to pits. If this is you, you aren’t stupid – you know that your decision will bring pain to your life – yet somehow our enemy convinces us time and time again to make the same choice. We hate our decision because the pain it causes us but we continually fall back into it over and over again.
Before you get too far and start judging people in this pit, let me propose to you that we all fit into this category at times. If you’ve ever broken a diet – eaten something that you know you shouldn’t and you know will cause more harm to your life than good – then you know about this pit. Or if you have ever knowingly said some “not-so-nice” words to someone you love – knowing full well the hurt it will inflict – then you know this pit as well.
We’ve all jumped into a pit before. We’ve all made bad decisions without fully taking into account the consequences of those decisions. The Prodigal Son was this way – you can’t blame anyone or anything for his decision except him. If he would have thought about it logically, he would have seen that his decision would lead to pain. But that’s the thing with pit jumpers – we usually don’t think that far ahead. We usually make these decisions just based on the short term.
If that’s you, don’t worry, there’s still hope. There’s always hope with God – the question is what avenue to go down to find out. If you find yourself knowingly jumping into pits, then the escape plan for you is two things: 1) Repentance and 2) Healing.
Repentance is easy to understand – you need to make a change. That is straightforward and I don’t need to get into that here. But why healing? What does healing have to do with anything?
Look at it this way – nobody needs healing more than the one who knowingly drinks poison and likes it. Same is true spiritually. No one needs healing more than the one who finds himself jumping headfirst into a pit time after time.
“A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:22
If you can relate to that verse, then you need to present your desires to God for healing. You need to pray “God, please heal me of the unhealthy and self-destructive desires that are within me. Purify my desires and intentions and let them be conformed to your perfect will for my life.”
2. WHEN YOU SLIP IN: the pit of distraction
You didn’t mean to fall in – you just weren’t paying attention to where you were walking and because of that, you fell into a pit and had no idea what hit you. All of us have areas where we’re weak and where we struggle. Our enemy is aware of it and has a plan built around it. If we aren’t aware and vigilant, then it becomes easy for him to knock us in.
For example, how many times have I heard: “we’re just good friends, nothing more. Yeah we spend a lot of time together, but there’s no way that anything would ever happen between us.”
Or “no don’t worry. I can stop any time I want to. Trust me. It’s not a big deal at all. I know what I’m doing.”
Or “I promise I will just do _______ for the next couple of weeks and then I’m sure I’ll stop it after that.”
The end result of not watching where you’re walking is the same every time…YOU END UP IN A PIT!
Two steps to escaping this pit. The first step is to ELIMINATE GUILT. Stop beating yourself up for falling in. Yes you made a mistake but you can get out. You must get out! And you will never get out if you’re too busy beating yourself up.
I bet a lot of us can relate to what David says in Psalm 38:4-6, “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.”
Guilt stinks! It is no good. Stop thinking that you need to feel guilty in order to fix your mistake. Guilt is never from Jesus; it is always from the devil. Go see how many sinful people Jesus met in the gospels and find me one example of a time He threw guilt at them. NEVER! Jesus didn’t throw guilt at them – He threw love at them. He threw acceptance at them. He threw forgiveness at them. Go ask the Samaritan woman or the adulterous woman or Zacchaeus or the thief crucified with Him on the cross. GUILT STINKS!!!
The second step in escaping this pit is ELIMINATING IGNORANCE OF THE DEVIL’S PLAN. We must be wise and walk circumspectly – with wisdom and understanding. You must realize that while the devil’s plan is destruction, it is rarely his starting point. His starting point is much more subtle and less obvious. His path to destruction looks like this:
Distraction -> Addiction -> Destruction
He starts you off small – with just a distraction. Nothing big, just something which will distract you away from God’s law or God’s plan for your life. It could be a job or a relationship or a habit or an idea. Anything which makes you take your eyes off of God and onto something else.
It may not seem like a big deal at first [and it probably isn’t] but soon he turns that distraction into a full time addiction – causing you to become consumed by it. He raises your level of dissatisfaction with the current level of whatever it is and pushes you to go deeper and deeper. This could be a substance or a relationship [physical or emotional] or a behavior. You need more of it to satisfy that craving – a little bit is never enough.
The distraction/sin becomes like a fire – it continues to grow until either it destroys you or you destroy it. Those are the only two options. The fire will not stay the same and neither will the sin – it destroys you, or you destroy it. We must understand the devil’s ways and be ready for them.
Now with that said, we must also understand God’s ways as well. Here’s the key principle to understand here: If you belong to Christ, the devil cannot destroy you. The best he can do is convince that you’re already destroyed.
Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29
Yes the devil may have inflicted some harm to you and caused some losses in your life – but you as long as you belong to Christ, there is still hope. There’s always hope. Your enemy may be stronger than you, but he is not stronger than the One who holds you. Hold fast to that hope and we’ll take it about more in the coming days.
That’s it for today. I will save the third way of falling into a pit – WHEN YOU’RE THROWN IN – till tomorrow. Stay tuned for that.
Discussion: What other thoughts do you have about jumping into a pit or slipping into a pit? Any tips from your experience?