Have you ever tried to walk up the down escalator? Or go the wrong way on a moving sidewalk? It’s futile and exhausting.
The book of Judges portrays a cyclical pattern of the Israelites turning away from God to idols, falling into oppression from the people around them, becoming desperate and calling out to God, even turning away from their false gods for a time, and God delivering them and blessing them with peace. Until they turn away once again. Verse 16 says that God “became weary of Israel’s misery.”
It is a weary pattern, but one that is still common today, even among those who follow Christ. We sin and experience the consequences, so we repent and turn to Jesus; He gives us victory and freedom. We exercise our freedom to the point that we fall back into sin and the vicious cycle continues. God is busy drawing us toward Him, but we are running the other direction and getting nowhere fast.
Christ died for us not only to free us from the eternal consequences of our sin, but to free us from the sin itself. He died and rose again to provide for us “another counselor” (John 14:16), to “write His law on our hearts” (Hebrews 10:16). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope,the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13)
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. When we trust in Him, we no longer have to run this weary treadmill. The Holy Spirit dwelling in us is able to point out sin before we go there. Through the same power that raised Jesus from the grave, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to say no to ungodliness. When we do, we turn this cycle in reverse.
Instead of sin, we choose again each day to follow Christ, to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. With that choice comes a new sense of God’s presence, His love, and His blessings. This greater awareness of God draws us even closer, so the next temptation is easier to flee, drawing us ever closer to the One who loves us and gave Himself for us. We soon feel as if we are being drawn along by a power greater than us – moving in the right direction – and having rest in Him.