DAY 18 / Integrity

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Scripture: Read 1 John 3:7-10

"Do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil" (1 John 3:7-8).

Backsliding Is Not Good Exercise

Unconfessed sin is the first step in what the Bible calls "backsliding"— gradually moving away from a close walk with Christ into a life filled with the alien world in which we live.

God's promise, "I will cure you of backsliding" (Jer. 3:22), implies that backsliding resembles physical sickness. First is the secret invasion of the body by a disease germ. Then infection follows and there is a gradual decline: no pep, no appetite, no interest in normal activities. Then comes the collapse!

Spiritual decline works in a similar way. First sin invades us. Instead of fighting it, we yield to it (cf. James 1:14) and infection sets in. A gradual decline follows. We lose our appetite for spiritual things, we become listless and even irritable, and finally we collapse. The only remedy is to confess and forsake our sin and turn to Christ for cleansing and healing.

The inner man not only needs food and cleansing, but he also needs exercise. "Train yourself to be godly" (1 Tim. 4:7). A person who eats but does not exercise will become overweight; a person who exercises without eating will kill himself. There must be proper balance. "Spiritual exercise" for a believer includes sharing Christ with others, doing good works in Christ's name, and helping to build up other believers.

Applying God's Truth:

1. What would you say was your most recent incident of "backsliding"? Can you identify what caused the initial lack of spiritual momentum?

2. With what have you fed your appetite for spiritual things during this past week?

3. What kinds of spiritual "exercise" have you had this week? Do you think you may need to increase your exercise? If so, what other activities might you add?

—Pause For Power