Not a pretty sight, the pigpen of sin. Filth. Smelly. Rottenness that sticks to your skin, mats your hair, and fills your soul. It’s hard, oh so hard, to get clean.

You can’t even track your path to this pit of slime.

It wasn’t always like this!

One minute, life was a party. Then, in a blink, this…

Or maybe you traveled a slow, downward spiral. Small steps taken.

Wrong turns. But each decision moving you miles away from the Father who would do anything to bring you home.

I want to come home!

There’s only one clear view from the pigpen. Look up! Look up to the One who can rescue you. And listen. God is calling!

It happens in an instant. One minute you are walking and whistling, the next you are wide-eyed and falling. Satan yanks back the manhole cover and an innocent afternoon stroll becomes a horror story. Helplessly you tumble, aware of the fall but unable to gain control. You crash at the bottom and stare blankly into the darkness. You inhale the evil stench and sit in Satan’s sewage until he spits you out and you land, dumbfounded and shell-shocked, on the sidewalk.

Such is the pattern of sudden sin. Can you relate to it? Very few sins are premeditated and planned. Very few of us would qualify for Satan’s strategy team. We spend our time avoiding sin, not planning it. But don’t think for one minute that just because you don’t want to fall that you won’t. Satan has a special trick for you, and he only pulls it out when you aren’t looking.

This yellow-bellied father of lies doesn’t dare meet you face-to-face. No sir. Don’t expect this demon of demons to challenge you to a duel. Not this snake. He hasn’t the integrity to tell you to turn around and put up your dukes. He fights dirty.

He is the master of the trapdoor and the author of weak moments. He waits until your back is turned. He waits until your defense is down. He waits until the bell has rung and you are walking back to your corner. Then he aims his dart at your weakest point and…

Bull’s eye! You lose your temper. You lust. You fall. You take a drag. You buy a drink. You kiss the woman. You follow the crowd. You rationalize. You say yes. You sign your name. You forget who you are. You break your promise. You buy the magazine. You lie. You covet. You stomp your feet and demand your way.

You deny your Master.

It’s David disrobing Bathsheba. It’s Adam accepting the fruit from Eve. It’s Abraham lying about Sarah. It’s Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus. It’s Noah, drunk and naked in his tent. It’s Lot, in bed with his own daughter. It’s your worst nightmare. It’s sudden. It’s sin.

Satan numbs our awareness and short-circuits our self-control. We know what we are doing and yet can’t believe that we are doing it. In the fog of weakness, we want to stop but haven’t the will to do so. We want to turn around, but our feet won’t move. We want to run and, pitifully, we want to stay.

It’s the teenager in the backseat. It’s the alcoholic buying “just one”. It’s the boss touching his secretary’s hand. The husband walking into the porn shop. The mother losing her temper. The father beating his child. The gambler losing his money. The Christian losing control. And it’s Satan gaining a foothold.

Confusion. Guilt. Rationalization. Despair. It all hits. It hits hard. We numbly pick ourselves up and stagger back into our world. “Oh God, what have I done?” “Should I tell someone?” “I’ll never do it again.” “My God, can you forgive me?”

No one who is reading these words is free from the treachery of sudden sin. No one is immune to this trick of perdition. This demon of hell can scale the highest monastery wall, penetrate the deepest faith, and desecrate the purest home.

Some of you know exactly what I mean. You could write these words better than I, couldn’t you? Some of you, like me, have tumbled so often that the stench of Satan’s breath is far from a novelty. You’ve asked for God’s forgiveness so often that you worry that the well of mercy might run dry.

Want to sharpen your defenses a bit? Do you need help in reinforcing your weaponry? Have you tumbled down the manhole once too many times? Then consider the ideas below:

First, recognize Satan. Our war is not with the flesh and blood but with Satan himself. Do like Jesus did when Satan met him in the wilderness. Call him by name. Rip off his mask. Denounce his disguise. He appears in the most innocent of clothing: a night out with the boys, a good book, a popular movie, a pretty neighbor. But don’t let him fool you! When the urge to sin rears its ugly head, look him squarely in the eye and call his bluff. “Get behind me, Satan!” Not this time, you dog of hell! I’ve walked your stinking corridors before. Go back to the pit where you belong!” Whatever you do, don’t flirt with this fallen angel. He’ll thrash you like wheat.

Second, accept God’s forgiveness. Romans, chapter 7 is the Emancipation Proclamation for those of us who have a tendency to tumble. Look at verse 15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Sound familiar? Read on. Verses 18, 19: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Man, that fellow has been reading my diary!

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (v.24).

Please, Paul, don’t stop there! Is there no oasis in this barrenness of guilt? There is. Thank God and drink deeply as you read verse 25 and verse 1 of chapter 8: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!…Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Amen. There it is. You read it right. Underline it if you wish. For those in Christ there is no condemnation. Absolutely none. Claim the promise. Memorize the words. Accept the cleansing. Throw out the guilt. Praise the Lord. And…watch out for open manholes.

Used by permission by Word Publishing ©by Max Lucado