Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Sin’s Vicious Cycle”
On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before anyone knew of it,5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. As he met them, he said to them, “Come in to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” 7 When they came into the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and cast them into a cistern.
If there was any doubt about what kind of man Ishmael was, it becomes really clear in this passage that Ishmael was not a hero. In yesterday’s passage, we saw that Ishmael murdered Gedaliah and massacred everyone else around him—including the Babylonian soldiers— perhaps with a sense of heroism, but definitely he was in rebellion against God. Here, we see that Ishmael’s actions take him to a darker place as he murders these men who come to Jerusalem for no other purpose than to worship the Lord.
Ishmael probably had no intention of murdering more people when he had resolved to kill Gedaliah, but the path he was on determined his destination and his actions. The nature of sin and rebellion is like that: once we go down that path, it’s not easy to stop, repent and go in a different direction; rather, sin and rebellion begets more sin and rebellion. There have been times in my life—and all of our lives, I’m sure—where everything started with just one white lie, that was followed by another lie to cover up the first one, then our sin went deeper and deeper, and its effect got wider and wider. Ishmael shows us a clear example of the vicious cycle of sin—something we all have experienced.
There may be times when it feels like we are stuck in a vicious cycle of sin with no way out—but thankfully, we have hope in Jesus Christ. As Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” At the right time, Jesus came into our lives to not just stop us from going deeper into sin, but to free us completely from the vicious cycle of sin. Let us go to the Cross of Jesus by repenting and confessing of our sins so that we could receive this freedom. And let’s be thankful to Jesus for setting us free!
Prayer: Jesus, I pray for freedom from my sin. Thank You for coming into my life in the depth of my weakness and sin. I pray that I can fully take hold of the freedom You have given me this day. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 6
Lunch Break Study
Read Galatians 5:16-23: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Questions to Consider
- What are the competing desires that are within us?
- What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?
- How are you seeing the fruits of the Spirit in your life? What steps can you take to bear more fruit?
- Paul tells us that the desires of the flesh and desires of the Spirit are in direct opposition with one another. In verses 19-21, we see what the desires of the flesh look like and then in verses 22-23, we see where the desires of the Spirit lead us.
- Walking by the Spirit means taking every step, living each day by faith, and following the desires of the Holy Spirit within us. Notice that the desires of the flesh by nature are centered on the self and when we are led by ourselves and thus by the flesh, it leads to all that we see in verses 19-21.
- Personal reflection.
Do you feel stuck in a cycle of sin? If so, remember that Jesus wants to set you free! Confess and repent of your sins, and pray for a deeper experience of freedom in Him. If not, spend some time thanking Jesus for the freedom and victory He has given you.