Luke 4:9-12, “And he (the devil) led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
Spiritual suicide. That’s what I call it. It’s tragic. Over the years I have met so many victims. I have counseled so many well-meaning people who are even now still trying to piece back together the shattered remnants of a once vibrant life and ministry. They started off full of passion and zeal. I watched them as they charged hell armed with nothing more than a water-pistol. They loved God. They loved people. And they longed to make a difference. So much so on that last point that they failed to heed the warning signs. They refused to acknowledge their own brokenness and need. Somewhere along the way they bought the lie and the end result was disappointment, destruction, and devastation. And now? Now all they have left is the broken pieces. Marriage. Family. Ministry. Health. Peace. Joy. All shattered into a million pieces. All the result of spiritual suicide.
What is spiritual suicide? Good question. Spiritual suicide is what happens when God’s people try to take shortcuts in their walk of faith. It’s nothing new really. The devil has been tempting mankind with shortcuts since he first appeared to Eve. “Eat the fruit and you will become like God.” Nothing more than a shortcut. Instead of investing time and effort to develop intimacy with God, you can become like Him with just one bite. One bite will get you what you want. One bite will take you where you want to go. The Bible is filled with people who chose shortcuts over the divine way. Abraham chose Hagar. Jacob chose deception. Saul chose to offer the sacrifice himself. At the time a shortcut always seems like the right choice. Saves time. Requires less effort. Same results with a minimal cost. Or at least that is the hope.
The devil offered Jesus a shortcut. “Throw Yourself off the temple. The angels will catch You before You hit the ground. The crowds will be amazed. No one will be able to deny that You are the Son of God.” Makes sense. Instant popularity. Instant success. No pain. No rejection at the hands of man. Celebrated instead of crucified. Jesus could have the place of honor, glory and worship. All He had to do was take the devil’s shortcut. Compromise His calling. Deny the Father’s purposes. Turn His back on the path of redemption. Just take the road of least resistance and it could all be His. So easy. So appealing.
Personally, I am glad that Jesus said “no” to the shortcut. What really amazes me is that He knew exactly what that meant. Saying “no” to the shortcut was a “yes” to the Cross. Jesus chose the path of pain. He chose the path of suffering. But in refusing the shortcut He also was choosing the path of life for all mankind. I am reminded today that shortcuts seldom provide what they promise. Particularly in spiritual matters. The shortcut will seem right (but it really only leads to death). The shortcut will seem easier (but it really only leads to destruction). Yes, His way is narrow. And at times it can be very hard. But, in the end, it always leads to life. No matter where you find yourself this morning, I want you to know, that it is never too late to turn around. Maybe you chose the shortcut. That doesn’t mean you have to stay on that path. All you need to do is “turn.” Turn around. Turn away from your current direction. And turn back toward God. It really is that simple. Just one choice can turn it all around. Say “no” to temptation’s shortcuts. Let God set your feet on the path that leads to life.