THINK ABOUT HELL. No, I don’t mean an imaginary place where there’s fire and the devil jabbing you with a pitchfork. I mean your personal hell. I know what mine is. I’ve been there.
What I’m talking about is a bad place or that person you know you can become. If you were to let go of all control, where would you end up? It’s a nasty ugly place. You might have been there at one point in your life. Or you know what you’re capable of. Sometimes when we lash out or harden our hearts we get a glimpse of it. It’s a dark place.
Picture your hell on earth. Think about it. Be afraid of it. Very afraid.
Sliding down into hell is a lot easier than you think. It happens little by little until the next thing you know you’re plunging down into an abyss.
I heard Jordan Peterson talk about this, and I think it’s an important way to look at life.
How do you end up in this hell? It begins with small compromises. Indulging a bit in a bad habit here, neglecting your relationship with God there, ignoring your family, letting your mind wander into sinful fantasies…
Satan only asks for an inch — then he takes a mile.
And as you slide down, you get weaker.
What happens on a neurological level is that these little compromises get programmed into your brain. You get comfortable with them. It’s what happens to addicts. You might get off the drug, but when you go back to certain social settings – the bar, old friends, etc. – you begin to use again.
I have to resist this. You have to resist this. We have to summon all our strength and trust in God to resist going to hell. The world gives you a million excuses to slide down — a million reasons and rationalizations. The enemy loves when a believer falls down more than anything. It’s the perfect excuse for people to reject God. How many men of God slip and fall only to drag down a multitude with them?
Against this demonic aggression there’s only one thing that gives you a fighting chance…
Think about heaven. No, I don’t mean an imaginary place of clouds and angels playing harps. I mean your heaven on earth. What does this look like to you? I’m not talking about denying your history or your failures. Include all of your current reality and think: what’s heaven on earth look like to me?
Picture your heaven on earth. Think about it. See it and feel it. Then run to it.
Climbing up to this heaven is tough. An avalanche of resistance goes against you. Family, friends, culture, society, and my own weakness try to push me off the ledge. It’s so much easier to fall down and so much harder to climb up. With God’s help though, we press onward and upward.
God asks for an inch — and he gives you eternity.
I can’t advance all the time though. Sometimes I make it to a ledge and take a breather. I hunker down and wait out the storm. Everything’s snug and tight before I climb higher. I might slip a bit and get banged up, bruised, and cut. But before I slide too far down, I dig in my heels. I resist. Then I claw my way back up. I get on my knees and pray. I read my Bible. I repent. I ask God to change me, to purify me. I grit my teeth and fight back to win back the lost ground. This doesn’t mean I get to heaven by my own efforts. It means I get there by the inspiration and strength born of God’s Spirit in me. He doesn’t force you to climb. Instead, he gives you all the tools you need for the journey. Just as your mind can be programmed for bad things, it can also be programmed for good things too.
Remember, while you live this life, it’s not the destination that counts, but the struggle.
And as you climb higher, you get stronger.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?
Meditate on this. Keep these two places in mind. They are both very, very real. Fear hell. Do everything in your power to stay out of it. Don’t play with fire. Love heaven. Do everything in your power to reach it.
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