Always On Guard!
… Abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication….
— Acts 15:20
We must never forget that the devil is always on the prowl, waiting for us to drop our guard and fall asleep on the job so he can stealthily find an entrance into our lives. In our moments of lethargy and complacency, we are especially vulnerable. The enemy is constantly poised to exploit any perceivable weakness, and when he makes his move, it is often with devastating consequences. Therefore, we must perpetually remain on guard — diligent, wide-awake, and doing our part to protect ourselves from the evil lurking in the shadows.
Specifically, this means we must be vigilant about not exposing ourselves to environments that have spiritually negative consequences. An integral part of being vigilant is to stay away from places, events, and people that are detrimental to our spiritual lives.
For instance, this means:
- Staying away from immoral films that stir carnal passions and arouse temptation.
- Avoiding people who freely drink alcohol, since the situation could open a door for the enemy to lure you into a new bondage or one from which you’ve already been delivered.
- Separating from “loose” Christians who have a lower standard of holiness and lack passion for God and the things of God.
The Bible makes it clear that it is our duty to avoid anything that is opposed to a life of holiness. By doing so, we fulfill our part in protecting ourselves from the evil in the world. This is our responsibility, and God expects us to fulfill it seriously.
Much like today, the Early Church was literally surrounded on all sides by things that could easily lure new believers back into a life of sin. Pagan temples were one of the most prominent temptations in New Testament times, since these cult sanctuaries were central to life in the Roman Empire. Essentially functioning as “cultural centers,” temple grounds hosted numerous community events, including festivals, ceremonies, and even open marketplaces. However, these temples were also dark cesspools of demonic activity, idolatry, and fornication, which made it imperative for early believers to stay as far away from them as possible.
In Acts 15, we read that the Early Church leadership convened in Jerusalem to discuss what to expect of new converts who abandoned paganism and came to Christ. After much deliberation, the council arrived at a decision, which Peter summarized in Acts 15:19,20: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
Peter announced new converts should “…abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication….” The word “abstain” in this verse is the Greek word apecho, which means to deliberately withdraw from; to stay away from; to put distance between oneself and something else; or to intentionally refrain. The word “pollutions” is a translation of the Greek word alisgema, which depicts something that is defiled. Part of the activities of idolatry included “fornication.” This is from the Greek word porneia, the Greek word that was used to describe any sexual activity outside the context of God-ordained marriage.
The rites of idolatry were often connected to immoral sexual acts, which God condemned. These rituals were lewd, indecent, obscene, vulgar, degenerate, and profane. Therefore, it was essential for new believers to distance themselves from the environments where these things occurred because it had the power to infect, sicken, and nullify them spiritually. This is exactly where the devil wanted them to be, knowing that if he could get believers into that old environment again, he could possibly drag them back into bondage, dilute their spiritual power, and negatively affect their witness.
You see, most believers had been saved out of that immoral pagan lifestyle, and to return to a blatantly pagan environment for a social event was flirting with temptation. Roaming about a pagan temple with all its spiritually poisonous activities could ultimately bring ruin into their lives. To be in that environment certainly was not being diligent to protect themselves against the evil that is in the world. Early believers needed to stay away from these dark environments at all costs — even if all their friends and neighbors went there. It just wasn’t the place for Christians to be if they intended to remain spiritually free.
The spiritual leadership in Jerusalem made the decision under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that we all need to be careful about the places, events, and people we allow in our lives. Those who belong to Christ do not need to deliberately expose themselves to films that cause temptation, hang out in bars where there is a strong temptation to drink, or spend time with “loose” friends who have adopted a worldly view that Christ opposes.
Is today’s Sparkling Gem a wake-up call for you to be more vigilant about where you go, what you do, and whom you spend time with? If nothing else, let the Holy Spirit speak to you about walking in greater spiritual freedom and holiness.
My friend, there are places, events, and people that are spiritually detrimental to your future. Rather than put yourself in jeopardy by allowing these things in your life, it is safer to put distance between them and yourself.
Since the devil is on the prowl, it is essential always to remain on guard — diligent, wide-awake, and doing our part to protect ourselves from the evil that is in the world. This means putting distance between ourselves and any individual, activity, or atmosphere that could contribute to our spiritual demise.
So I ask you today — are you sensibly putting space between yourself and detrimental places, events, and people that aren’t healthy for you? That was God’s requirement 2,000 years ago — and it is still what the Holy Spirit requires of you today!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to reveal to me the places, events, or people I specifically need to avoid in order to stay spiritually strong. I want to be a witness to the freedom You have brought into my life. But if I am not strong enough to be around the former places and people and not be affected by them, I need the courage to say no to the invitations that would negatively affect me. Give me the wisdom to know those whom I can help influence and those whom I deliberately need to avoid. I know that the Holy Spirit has the answer, and He wants to help me make the right decisions. So Holy Spirit, teach me how to be vigilant and sensible about my spiritual life, as this will affect everything about my future.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am vigilant and fully aware when it comes to my spiritual life. I know that the devil is on the prowl, looking for an entrance into my life. Therefore, I am very sensible about where I go, what I do, and whom I see. I guard my heart carefully because nothing is more important than my spiritual life. God expects me to put distance between myself and anything that will potentially cause negative spiritual ramifications in my life. I love Jesus more than I love anything else. Therefore, I have chosen to walk the straight and narrow path, surrounding myself only with people and activities that edify my spirit. I will build close fellowship only with those who are like-minded about following Jesus Christ in a spirit of holiness!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you know any believers who started out strong in their new walk with Jesus, but became sidetracked by being in the wrong places or surrounding themselves with people who had compromised themselves with the world?
- Are there any places, events, or people you need to rethink your relationship with after reading today’s Sparkling Gem? Are you influencing them to come closer to Jesus, or are they dragging you back into sin and defeat? If you are being negatively affected by those places, events, or people, is it possible that you need to put distance between yourself and those things?
- What steps do you need to take to make a break with those places, events, or people? Have you asked the Holy Spirit to give you a plan to start restructuring your time, such as where you go and with whom you spend your life? If you haven’t already begun asking for help in this area, why not ask today?