I was introduced to today’s featured song during an NFL post game press conference. Former back up quarterback Frank Reich led the Buffalo Bills to one of the greatest playoff comebacks of all time. Instead of taking the credit for himself, Reich quoted the lyrics of In Christ Alone by Michael English. The attached video starts with this press conference, serving as an introduction to In Christ Alone.
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:10.
Unfortunately, shortly after releasing Christ Alone, Michael English had an affair while on tour. This one night fling resulted in a divorce and being banned from several Christian bookstores who removed his music. When you take Reich’s victory and English’ fall from grace, these two events remind Christians to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Subsequently, when you’re weak, lean on Jesus so you’ll have the strength to overcome temptation while giving God the glory.
Today’s featured song was part of a rotation of songs that I played every night while I was attending a youth ministry school in the winter of 1993. Since I needed to get up early every morning, I played a series of ballads to put me to sleep as quick as possible. These 7 weeks in Minnesota was one of the best times in my life which infused me with a spiritual confidence that I never had before.
But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.
Susan Ashton’s Innocence Lost isn’t a deeply spiritual song, but it’s one of those that everyone can relate to as a sinner. While you may have good intentions, if you’re not careful you too could be reliving Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Just as this couple was filled with guilt and shame, Innocence Lost serves as a warning to avoid repeating the same mistakes of your past.
Depending upon your reading comprehension, you may read for speed to get through as many pages as possible or take your time so that you don’t miss anything. I tend to follow the latter, slow and steady, searching for patterns that tie everything together. After reading 1 Timothy 4, I was reminded by something I read earlier in this letter written by the apostle. What I found was a similar explanation to explain an individual’s fall from grace.
And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression.15 Nevertheless [the sentence put upon women of pain in motherhood does not hinder their souls’ salvation, and] they will be saved [eternally] if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control, [saved indeed] through the Childbearing or by the birth of the divine Child, 1 Timothy 2:14-15.
According to the apostle Paul, the source behind original sin was deception. As the Spirit of Lucifer entered into the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Eve was convinced that God’s rule about eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was holding her back. Rather than reject this new age of thinking, thoughts planted within Eve gave birth to a spirit of lust. The more Eve stared at this low hanging fruit, it was only a matter of time before her fall from grace.
But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, 2 Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.
As the second coming of Jesus approaches, a similar mindset will return. Rather than using merely deception to delude God’s commands, demonic spirits will seduce weakened minds. Like itching ears eager to indulge in gossip, a simple story is taken out of context, filled with distortions, exaggerations and lies. If a lie is told over and over again, especially by the media, it won’t be long before the innocent are deceived, on their way to another fall from grace.
If you’re forced to travel a long distance by foot, you’ll get there if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” is a song featured in the 1970 Christmas classic Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. The context of this show tune occurs following a conversation between a young Kris Kringle and the Winter Warlock. The morale embedded within the lyrics urges listeners to bounce back by getting up as soon as you fall.
Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:18-19.
Whether you endure an embarrassing moment, a disappointing defeat or a self inflicted fall from grace, you can’t beat yourself up forever. The context of the passage above involved a sex scandal within the Church at Corinth. News of this inappropriate relationship quickly reached the apostle Paul. This portion of Paul’s letter provides advice for bouncing back spiritually.
You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:20.
Anyone who is struggling to break free from an addiction or bad habit, needs to quickly cut ties from this by shunning any traces of immorality. This includes the environment or the individuals who drag you in to participate. If you want to put your best foot forward, view their body as a holy temple where God’s Spirit resides. When you develop this mindset, you can begin to put one foot in front of the other so that you can eventually be set free,
There are segments in some of the apostle Paul’s letters where he uses imagery like Jesus. Rather than speak in parables, Paul compares a natural event to a spiritual condition. At the end of his initial letter to Timothy, Paul compares a fading faith to experiencing a shipwreck. Serving as a warning to other first century Christians, Paul calls out two people by name for making a mess of their lives.
Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) conscience. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith, 1 Timothy 1:19.
According to the passage above, one of the reasons believers find themselves slipping into troubled waters is due to a lack of confidence and trust in God. Perhaps Paul is referencing Jonah 1:4-14 where grown men lose all hope as a violent storm is about to destroy their vessel. If not this, Paul might be sharing what he learned while being shipwrecked just off the coast of Malta in Acts 27:13-20. On both occasions, all the passengers on board lost faith.
Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan in order that they may be disciplined [by punishment and learn] not to blaspheme, 1 Timothy 1:20.
If faith is based upon assurance, confidence and hope in the Lord, Hebrews 11:1-6, anyone who is overwhelmed by the external forces confronting them is experiencing a shipwrecked faith. While its unclear what Hymenaeus and Alexander did or didn’t do, Paul uses their fall from grace as a teachable moment for others. If you currently find yourself shipwrecked, trying to pick up of pieces of your life, look to James 1:2-12 to ride out this storm. You may not feel better initially, but as you live and learn from past mistakes, faith will recover as you draw near to God.
Despite how proud you may be, everyone experiences an embarrassing moment in life like Simon Peter. One day you boldly proclaim “I’ll never do that” only to succumb to temptation in the days or weeks that follow. When actions don’t match what you say or believe, hypocrisy leaves a sour taste for those observing this fall from grace. This is one of the consequences of what happens when faith does not hold up under temptation.
Not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether it be by some [pretended] revelation of [the] Spirit or by word or by letter [alleged to be] from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has [already] arrived and is here. 3 Let no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the son of doom (of perdition), 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3.
There are several reasons why faith does not hold up under temptation. Sometimes this is a continuation of a spiritual slide that began out of a period of idleness, similar to what happened to King David in 2 Samuel 11:1-2. Meanwhile, faith is only as strong as your environment, Matthew 13:19-23. If spiritual foundations are weak, Colossians 2:6-7, when storms or trials arrive unexpectedly, faith tends to waver as winds and waves continue to strengthen.
Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
In a historic chapter about past failures made by Jewish leaders in the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wraps up this section with a valuable lesson. According to Paul, every temptation offers a way out. Unfortunately, when the pressure to conform mounts, it’s hard to take your eyes off of temporary pleasures. Instead of bowing down to temptation, keep your head up so that you will see the door to escape temptation so that faith will prevail.
Throughout the course of your life, there will be ample individuals who will let you down. Some of these people may be a former mentor, highly regarded colleague or a member of your own family. Nonetheless, human nature will result in the downfall of many friends, leaders and quality members of society. If you have ever received advice, encouragement or wisdom from someone, at that moment in time the inspiration means more than the source.
Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for My sake and in My name receives and accepts and welcomes Me, Matthew 18:4-5.
For example, 17 years ago this month, former Christian singer Ray Boltz announced to his family that he was gay. Apparently, these feelings had troubled his soul prior to Boltz coming out of the closest. To most of his fans, this was a total shock, coming out of the blue. When this announcement first went public, some Christians bookstores responded by banning his music. While I understand the point they were trying to make, Boltz’s music remains inspirational today despite his reputation being ruined as a biblical musician.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in and acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better (more expedient and profitable or advantageous) for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the seam Matthew 18:6.
You don’t have to be in a rock group to fall from God’s grace. There are enough distractions in this world to quickly become entangled by sin, ensnared by addiction or become vulnerable to adopting a bad habit. However, Jesus does draw a line when your actions, behaviors or words lead a little child astray. This is where anyone who is hanging by thread must be cautious to not go beyond the point of no return. Yet, despite all of our imperfections, God still provides shining moments when someone is inspired by something you’ve done or said. This is why inspiration means more than it’s original source.
According to the Bible, a crafty serpent brought evil to the earth, Genesis 3:1-7. The oldest recorded book describes a fallen angel who roams throughout the earth, Job 1:6-9. An Old Testament prophet writes about the day Lucifer was kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12-15. Another prophet highlights the beauty of this anointed cherub prior to his fall from grace, Ezekiel 28:13-15. As time goes by, more and more residents of earth refer to Lucifer or Satan as a fairy tale, a fictional character or part of mythology.
You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:19
As long as the source of evil in the Bible remains merely a figment of your imagination, this is the way the Devil likes it and wants it to be. When good things happen in life, most people credit accomplishments, blessings and rewards as a sign of hard work. However, when bad things develop in the form of defeat, hardships and trials, questions are raised upward toward God. The more people blame God for their problems on earth, evil functions best, disguised by ungodly beliefs.
But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). 7 So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you, James 4:6-7.
Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, all human being are born into a sinful nature. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to this inner desire as an evil tendency. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to this internal tug of war, Romans 7:15-18. Unless you become open to the power of the Holy Spirit via a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, evil will continue to ravage souls. Part of any spiritual awakening involves recognizing the bad, evil and sinful habits within you. Until evil is associated with the Devil, powers of darkness will continue to fly under the radar.