We see signs with this warning printed on it throughout every town in the country. To loiter is to stand or wait around idly or without apparent purpose. So why is it wrong to loiter? Paul warns in 2 Thessalonians 3 that idleness can lead to meddling in others’ affairs, causing problems, or allowing the mind to engage in things that it shouldn’t. Loitering in places or in areas that we don’t have a purpose or don’t belong often leads to no good. This is very applicable to our spiritual walk. This is when danger, often times in the form of sin are lingering and can easily take a hold of us.
In Ezekiel chapter 8:1-13, the prophet Ezekiel was taken away in a vision that brought him to the temple in Jerusalem. He found himself at the gate of the inner court where he saw the image of an idol that was described as “an idol that provokes God to jealousy”. We’re not told exactly what the form or shape of the idol was, but some scholars describe it as a phallic symbol representing sexual immorality and everything associated with it. It stood opposite the Shekinah glory of the God of Israel. God asked Ezekiel if he saw what they were doing. They were committing a great abomination in the presence of God. Then God warns him that he will see even greater abominations. Man will always struggle between two forces that oppose each other and vie for our attention and affection. Sin and sexuality on one side and spirituality on the other. Each one of us are vulnerable to temptations and can easily slip into sin if we are not careful, or should I say deliberate about actively combating it. The thrill and excitement that sin brings will always lead us away from God, no matter how small we think it is. Sin and lust cannot co-exist with love for God. They are antagonistic. One displaces the other.
Every day, we find ourselves between these two passions and we have to choose whom we will serve. If we worship and follow God, He will deal with the other choices before us. If we choose to follow the desires and passions of our flesh, we allow it to enter into what we like to think as the secret places in our lives or our hearts. The end result will be corruption. It begins small but quickly goes from bad to worse until it spirals out of control.
Ezekiel is then taken to the entrance of the inner court where he discovers a hole in the wall. God told him to dig through the hole to see what they were doing behind the wall. He called it vile abominations that they were committing. It went from great abominations to vile abominations. There were engravings on the walls of every form of creeping things, loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. In front of these engravings were the elders of the house of Israel worshipping them. It described them as being in the dark, each in his room, saying, “The Lord does not see us”. It is dangerous to think that our sin is private and no one will know about it.
We have imaginations which is the image-making function of our minds. It has the remarkable ability to form mental images even though actual objects are not in sight. If we are not careful, our imaginations can lead us down a path which facilitates sinful behavior. The more we meddle in these sinful thoughts, the more it becomes real to us. What starts out as ill-defined images tend to get sharper and more detailed until they are like the engraved images that were on the temple walls within our minds. We can even deceive ourselves into thinking that sinful thinking doesn’t really hurt anyone and treat it more like a victimless crime.
Sinful thinking often leads to sinful behavior and actions. That is why we can’t loiter or remain idle in our daily lives. We must take action, stay active in our pursuit of God and godliness. We must invite God into every part of our lives, especially in the dark rooms in our minds and let Him clean it out. I write about this because it is something that I must combat each and every day. We all do and we are all vulnerable to temptations which can hurt us if we loiter idly in places we shouldn’t be. Like taking our vitamins every day, start your day in fellowship with God, through His Word and in prayer. Cling to Him throughout your day.