"Those who oppose him he gently must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentace leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."
2 Timothy 2:25-26(NIV)
Apostle Paul wrote some good advice to his younger protege Timothy in 2 Tim. 2. He warned him about fleeing evil desires of youth and not getting caught up in stupid arguments and quarrels, and then he gave him this advice (vs. 25-26) about dealing with people who are caught up in doing the devil's will.
No one gets up one morning and decides, hey I think I'll be an alcholic or get addicted to drugs? Or, I think I'll be gay now or start seeing prostitutes on a regular basis, or I think I'll have an affair and leave my family or I think I'll steal money from my work.
We are led into sin or a sinful lifestyle by the devil gradually, we don't just decide one day to not be a christian anymore or live for our own selfish desires. We are gradually and eventually won over to the devi's will by the hardening our heart, or adjusting our conscience, or justifying our behavior or actions and letting the devil walk right into our lives and shove God right on out.
I know about this because 5 years ago, I had a bad year or so. I didn't plan to fall away from God's grace or be a bad person or make bad decisions, but over time with the right mixture of resentment, bitterness, confusion, selfish desires, and stopping my regular routine of reading God's word, talking to God, and having devotional time and being involved in service, I slowly but surely began a downward spiral of making poor choices, having a bad attitude, and struggling in sin.
I thank God for his grace, patience, mercy, and for people who didn't give up on me or encouraged me. I did have a couple people who were supposed to be christians be judgemental to me, not in love or concern, but in arrogance and blind to their own sin. I wasn't a hypocrite or didn't plan on walking away from God, but it was a combination of me letting satan in and buying into his lies and me removing the God things in my life, to eventually i was in the devil's will and not God's. It can happen to anyone and anytime, I dont' care how good a christian you are, how long you've been a christian, or whether you are a preacher, elder, deacon, preacher's wife, sunday school teacher, youth leader, or small group leader.
Paul gives Timothy good advice to gently instruct(that is good advice for us if we know someone who is struggling) and He also talks about them coming to their senses and escaping the trap of the devil. It's exactly what it is: a trap. His lies are traps in all sorts of ways, and alot of things are not even necessarily bad, but when satan uses them for wrong, they become bad.
I am glad I found my way back and I am glad God has been using me again the past few years, I don't deserve it, but I am thankful, and in some ways I believe my faith and testimony are stronger now, thanks to things God has shown me through it all.
My challenge for you today is this: don't stop going to church, don't stop reading your bible, don't stop talking to God, and don't put yourself in situations where you are going to give in, be weak, or not able to overcome the temptations.
Don't use drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or money to try to find peace or purpose or to forget. Don't use people or put them in bad situations. Stop justifying or making excuses for your attitude or behavior. Don't take the easiest or safest way out.
Don't stop serving or using your talents. Even if you need to take a break for a bit to focus on your faith and rebuilding your relationship with God, don't stop serving. Most of all, anything you do that is squeezing parts of God out of your life is not a good thing at anytime.
I hope you do like me, come to your senses, escape the devil's trap and stop doing his will and start doing God's will. I know I am capable of falling away at anytime and it won't happen overnight, that is why we all must stay in church, stay in God's word, and stay in constant communication with Him. Surround yourself with Godly people who will accept you and love you, but be honest with you and confront you in love when needed.