An interesting challenge is found in Romans 6.
Paul is trying to teach Christians that they should no longer desire a life of sin. They should not take advantage of God's grace by sinning all the more. They should no longer live as slaves of sin, but as slaves of God.
Paul makes clear that "our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." (6:6) The idea is that the Christian is a new person, no longer doing the things he used to do that separated him from God.
Why would Paul feel the need to explain this? It must be because the fact of becoming a Christian does not take away the temptations we've always faced. May no one considering the Christian life ever be led to believe that such is the case. It's not!
Every Christian is vulnerable to temptation, even the temptation to return to the very ways of life we left behind when we came to Christ. In fact, especially that.
Paul seems to know this as he writes to Christians in Romans 6. He specifically challenges the Christians in Rome to look back on their previous ways of life and consider them. He states three times from verses 15 - 20 that his readers were once "slaves" of sin. This challenge culminates in a tough question, found in verse 21:
"What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?"
Is there anything more personally challenging than taking an honest look at the results of our actions? How often are we willing to do this? And, how honest are we really willing to be?
What have been the consequences in our lives of the things we used to do, that we repented of, and that we're tempted to return to again:
*The spiritually apathetic grown children, who never saw a commitment to the Lord in our lives.
*The knowledge of sports trivia that exceeds our knowledge of God's word.
*The spouse alienated by a taste for pornography.
*The children driven away by a volatile temper.
*The friendship lost to a judgmental mind and a sharp tongue.
*The career ruined by alcohol.
*The body needlessly wracked with disease because of a careless lifestyle.
*The family shattered by an adulterous affair.
*The job lost due to laziness and complacency.
*The financial security squandered by wasteful spending.
*The church divided by a vicious rumor.
*The relatives kept at a distance over past wrongs unresolved.
*The shallow (or non-existent) relationships with God's people, due to nothing more than a lack of time spent with them.
*The sleepless nights brought on by a need to control and a refusal to trust God.
*More sleepless nights brought on by a refusal to accept God's forgiveness.
*The continuation of all this and more, played out in the lives of our children.
"So," Paul asks his readers, "you're tempted to return to your life of sin, despite God's grace? Tell me, how did that work out for you before?"