2 Peter 2:19-22 (ESV) – “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverbs says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.'”
Boy, that’s a mouthful of bitter-tasting truth right there. No one likes to think of themselves as dogs returning to their own puke, or pigs wallowing in the mud, but its true. I tried Christianity on, like it was an overcoat, 14 years ago. It seemed to be enough for me to simply give Jesus my conditional surrender.
“Okay Lord, I’m gonna go ahead and attempt to read your book now; cover to cover. Uh, if its all the same to you, I’d rather sit at home and watch a few T.V. preachers on Sunday, rather than waste my time in someone’s boring church. We can have some light conversation every night if you want to, but I’m gonna need you to keep a low key profile during the day. A lot of my friends might not understand our complicated relationship. I’m sure in time, I’ll give you more of me, but let’s just start this off slow.”
“Whatever you say, Ennis. We’ll try it your way, but remember: this was your plan.”
I can envision the Lord responding to my idiotic demands, in that loving tone. Its really no wonder that I quickly returned to my selfish ways and destructive patterns, a mere six months into my walk. Not only did I return to the mud, I made it my permanent residence. Every thing I thought I’d left behind came back to me ten fold. I was seriously worse than before I’d come to Jesus.
It took me nine years, and a few devastating life changes to break down and honestly turn my life over to the Lord. The new experience of actually being saved was refreshing and uncomfortable at the same time. Oh, I truly gave my heart to God, but my flesh was determined to hang on to some of the dirt from my old life. For another five years, I tried my best to learn the intricate dance of being a dirty Christian. You see, I was all about learning the scriptures, going to church, getting involved with the congregation, and turning over my big sins to God. But, there were a few secret, little sins that I figured He wouldn’t mind me indulging from time to time.
“Hey, didn’t I just throw that up a minute ago? It still looks pretty tasty. One bite won’t kill me.”
Insanity can be defined as doing the exact same thing, but expecting differing results. I actually could not figure out how so many of my christian friends were growing in the Lord, receiving blessings, being delivered from bondage and struggles, when I was consistently by their side, performing the same acts. Then one day, it hit me. The key just appeared. That was it. I was performing! I couldn’t grow in the Lord until I’d made a conscious decision to give the Lord everything, including my secret sins, which of course He knew about anyway. The only person I was really fooling, was myself.
Pigs love the mud. What might seem grimy and disgusting to the human eye, is actually heaven to them. We don’t get it, because we know what’s in the mud: disease, parasites, grime, filth. But the pig can’t see nor understand the danger. As soon as she’s free from the barn, she runs straight for that cool and refreshing filth. Often times, she’ll immerse herself deeper into the slop, than she had been before her bath. You can see it can’t you? Right now, your mind’s forming a mental picture. At some point, the farmer simply leaves the animal to her filth.
There’s the connection. That’s what we do as christian’s who continue to struggle over the same obstacles. That’s how we find ourselves going back to the bottle, or looking for the next sexual fix. That’s what it looks like to continue tripping over the same spending addictions. The pig doesn’t understand why it eventually gets sick. The dog doesn’t know why it needs to go out into the backyard and eat grass, after dealing with two days of lethargy. As born sinners, we honestly can’t understand why we continue our destructive behavior, unless we submit completely to God. Devoid of Him, we’ll always run back to our own vomit or our own mire; never discovering a way to be free of it.
The good news is this. When we submit to God fully, and I do mean fully, He shows us the error of our ways. Our ways are not His ways, you see. So, from our perspective, what looks enticing could eventually kill us. We need God’s direction to keep us from the mud.