This is Part Three of my blog on the four rules of life, I’ve established to make practical and memorable my personal mission statement: The purpose of my life is to make God look good. So let’s get right to my heart of it and my least favorite topic – sin!
About sin, I’m just going to say what I believe should be obvious to all of us: The primary reason believers continue to sin is because we’ve not decided to stop. Most of us have come to terms with an acceptable level of sin in our lives and feel it is either unnecessary, too difficult or costly to do much better.
I mean, let’s face it, nobody can make me sin. As I wrote in The 10 Second Rule, “the devil didn’t make me do it”. He’s the chief cheerleader of sin – a problem to be sure but he’s not the cause of my personal sin. There are at least two others.
First, there is what Paul refers to generally as the power of sin in me. Time doesn’t permit a full discussion on sanctification and the power of the Holy Spirit in me to resist sin but never the less something remains in me that still “wants what I want.” I still surprise myself with my selfishness.
Enjoying Sin The second problem is I enjoy some sins – that’s why I do them. I give in because I want to give in. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a deep regret when I sin and that I don’t sincerely struggle to resist, but at the end of the struggle when I do give in it’s not because somebody made me do it. It was my choice. Any believer who says they just can’t help it are just plain lying to themselves. The AA program would be powerless to help anyone who has not decided to stop drinking.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15
To resist the power of sin is to say, “No, I don’t need to sin in that area. I can stop – that’s enough – no more excuses!” Believe that and with the Holy Spirit’s power, you can resist! There’s a slight variation on the 10 second rule I try to use when I’m tempted;
What’s the next thing I’m reasonably certain Jesus doesn’t want me to do?
So, what does God not want you to do today? Walk away, rather than engage with an angry person. Turn off the computer. Turn your car around. Pour the bottle down the drain. End that sinful relationship. Find another healthier activity instead of those TV programs you know are spiritually toxic for you. Some would label this legalism. Proverbs calls it wisdom. The rule isn’t about sin management. It’s a path to overcoming it.
We don’t know for sure if tomorrow we’ll be strong enough to resist whatever sin besets us, but if it does, then you and I will go before Jesus once more and do battle every day until that sin habit is broken. When I’m lucid enough to obey one day, one temptation at a time I save the Holy Spirit and myself a lot of grief. Did you know we can actually make the Holy Spirit sad and distance ourselves from him?
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32
Rescue Others Every one of us knows someone still caught in some sinful habit, or who are the victims of someone else’s sin. Rescue them! I fully realize that there are some people who may need to “hit rock bottom,” or we’ve actually helped the wrong way, so we’re now co-dependent. But step back from those particular issues for a minute, we’re called to be rescuers – like Jesus!
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Matthew 18:12
Take a few minutes before the Lord right now and ask him to bring to your mind the name or face of someone he wants you to rescue. Perhaps it’s a co-worker who’s looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe it’s a neighbor who still doesn’t know about Jesus, or nephew who is a slave to drugs or alcohol. When we bring biblical truth, done in love, to those who are lost or have wandered, we are an extension of Christ himself. We are in the life-saving business!
Having our “spiritual radar” full on for hurting, helpless and hopeless people is the difference between the adventure of following Jesus and religion! Chapter seven in The 10 Second Rule, is dedicated to being the kind of Christian who pro-actively goes out of their way to be a rescuer, even when we don’t want to be or even like the person we’re trying to help.
Is there someone in your life right now who you know needs a word of encouragement or a gift of time or money, today? Don’t over-think it! “Just do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do.”
“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17
On Thursday, I will post Part Four of this series.
Following Jesus in Real Life