2016-02-19 -How not to Sin
Originally Published 2010-07-16
I know lots of people look at me and think, "Whoa he's got it all together. I mean he dresses cool in those Jesus t-shirts. Has awesome footwear – and basically looks superfly all the time” Right? OK maybe not - but some of you might look at pastors like myself and figure we are like some kind of spiritual Superman, but I know I'm not. I wish I were, but I'm not. I'm not all together all the time. I struggle with temptations daily, and succumb to sin way too many times.
As a kid, I heard all the great stories about Paul. I hear that he was a guy who tried to kill Christians until one day – BLAM – God blinded him and set him straight. Then he went out to the dessert and was taught by Jesus. Then he went on missionary trips all over the place, started a bazillion churches, and led tons of people to Christ. In his spare time, or while he was in jail for doing God’s work, he wrote most of the New Testament. And Paul did so many other cool things. I thought he was like one step down from being perfect like Jesus. I just knew in my head, that he probably hadn’t sinned since that trip to Damascus. But even this superhero of the Bible called himself the chief among sinners, in a letter he wrote to a young man named Timothy (1 Timothy 1:15).
Writing to the Romans, he goes into more detail on his struggles.
Romans 7:15-25 (NASB)
I don't know what Paul was talking about in this next passage, but every time I read it, I think of the sins that I struggle the most with. Some commentators speculate the thorn is a person who followed him around heckling him; others say it was a physical infirmity like a bad leg or something. I don’t know, but I think about sin.
Here’s how I read that. Because of the works God does through me, I am tempted to be prideful. So to keep me humble, a demon on my shoulder tempts me to sin. I have prayed over and over for deliverance from this. I want to not sin. But God has said, “No I won’t keep you from it but I will give you the grace to pursue what is right. Then my strength will be glorified in your weakness.”
I struggle with temptation and fall way too often. I don’t want to. I really don't want to - but I do. I feel so disgusted when I do, yet later on, I jump right back in. I have prayed to God to help me not do this one thing, and it seems like I do well for awhile - and then BLAM! Out of nowhere, I fall right back in again. I may go days, weeks or at times even months, and then I let my guard down and get blindsided. I get idle. And as the old saying goes, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.”
As I was praying the other day, God spoke to me. I prayed and prayed for God to help me not sin, and this is what he said. “It is not enough to want to avoid sin; you must desire to pursue righteousness.”
OK, it’s not exactly the theory of relativity, but think about it! Don't simply stay away from doing evil, but desire to do so much good that you have no time to do evil. Don't try to empty your mind of bad thoughts, but fill your mind full of so much good, that no bad has room. As I've thought on, this the last couple days, verse after verse have come to mind, so I want to explore those with you.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Go after the God stuff first. Don’t go after not doing the devil's stuff. Then everything else falls into place.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Fill up with good, so bad has to fall out. If I take a cup and put some dirt in it, I can empty some of the dirt out, but the cup is still dirty. But if I start pouring water into it, and just keep pouring water into it, eventually the dirt all flushes out.
James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Put what you know to do into action. Don’t fool yourself with lots of head knowledge, but translate it into hand and feet action.
Not hating is not the same as loving. Not stealing isn’t the same as giving. We shouldn't live so much by the don'ts of the Bible -, but more by the do's. Is it no wonder that the world wants little to do with Christianity; the world sees it as a religion of don’ts. We should be about the dos. Do love God. Do love yourself, and love others just as much. Notice these two greatest commandments aren't some of the don'ts in the old list, but rather do's.
Matthew 10:7-8 (NASB)
Looking at this passage Jesus was sending out his disciples. It’s a list of do’s, too. In fact, the only don’t comes in the next verse. And with that, it is don’t worry about other stuff. Do these things, and don’t worry about the rest; it will take care of itself.
Micah 6:6-8 (NASB)
Not a long list of don'ts, but three simple do's, is all God requires. Let's quit trying to live less like the world, and instead try to live more like God. Let’s get busy doing, rather than simply not don’t-ing.
All scripture references from King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted