If you are just now jumping in, I need you to go back and read two previous blog posts. They are the two that came right before this one. They are entitled, 'Two Dogs In The Fight', and 'Can We Marry?'. If I try to recap here I will use up all of my words in the review. My children might tell you that I can be a bit wordy on occasion. (Hush, my babes. Some things are still private!)
When my kids were little, I had this theory about children's nightmares. I thought that scary monsters could not come out in their dreams if they had never been put into their minds in the first place. So I was very careful about what they watched on TV. Seriously. I didn't even let them watch Scooby Doo until they were like twelve. And it worked. Five kids. Zero nightmares.
Oh, once in a while one of them would come to me in the morning and tell me that they had had a bad dream. I would ask what it was about. It was always about something sad or disappointing that had happened to them. Like: Buffy ate my Tastykake. Or Buff took the money that Nona gave me for my birthday and wouldn't give it back. Or, Buffy put me in the dryer and turned it on. Okay, that last one really happened. Ask Jim. :)
My theory about being backslidden had a similar vein of thought. I couldn't give you chapter and verse on it, but it was logical and made sense to me. (My thinking is not God's thinking and I can't trust it, remember?) You can't go back to something that you've never been involved with in the first place. So if you got saved at a young age and never dabbled in 'big' sin, then being backslidden is not near as dangerous as it is to someone who has lived in the world and has horrible sin to return to. You can see that in my counsel to the young couple in 'Can We Marry?'.
While it is very true that living for and serving God is MUCH easier without the scars of sin, there was an element that I was not giving enough weight to. A fact that, sadly, God has taught me and taught me well in recent years. I've watched it happen to someone close to me. And that brings us to the story of the tiger.
There once was an animal trainer who worked exclusively with tigers. He would raise them as though they were domestic cats from the time that they were weaned from their mother's milk. Every day he would go into the cage and pet and stroke them, getting them used to their master's hand. He spoke to them softly and called them by name. They responded as though they were kittens, purring and rubbing themselves against his legs as he walked by.
He refused to feed them with raw meat, being careful to never give them a taste for blood. He insisted instead that they be offered only meat that had been well cooked, and to that the tigers had become accustomed. It was all that they had ever known. They grew to be strong and loving and gentle.
The trainer became famous for the relationship that he maintained with these beautiful creatures. He often performed with them, and people were in awe of the love and respect that was exchanged between man and beast.
Until one day he went into the cage of his beloved tigers, not noticing a small cut on the side of his hand. He reached to stroke the animal's head as usual. But the smell of the blood in the nostrils of the tiger caused the fury of the wild to be revived. The animal trainer lost his life at the hand of the animal that he had been fooled into thinking had been tamed and was harmless to him.
And that is the way it is with the old nature that we talked about in the story about the two dogs. We can live our lives in a way that looks like we have conquered that old flesh. Others may see us as one who has been fully given over to Godly things, having never been scarred by the partaking of 'great' sin. We can really learn to believe it ourselves. We can even be in the ministry of God. I think perhaps we are most vulnerable. We can get comfortable, thinking that satan has been conquered and that the old man is dead.
But in that fatal moment when we give in to the taste of the world, our old nature will be revived and will spring up against our spiritual lives, just like that tiger. If we have fallen asleep to the danger, we will be consumed. With or without the scars of previous sin in our lives. That's why we need the whole armour of God. Always vigilant. Always watchful of the little things that creep in. Always on our knees. Always close to God. Always feeding the right dog.
This was so difficult to write. The cost is so great. Oh Lord, how I need you today!
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