Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Struggling against Sin

Each of us struggles with sin on a daily basis. No sooner have we overcome one sin that a new sin seems to pop up in its place. We may seem to get a handle on the overt sins of life, but the covert sins of our mind and attitude keep churning below the surface. I think I can safely say that sin will be a constant battle we face.

If we are going to be on a relentless pursuit to become the person God created us then we cannot allow sin to define our lives. We have to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult it might become, because if we don’t sooner or later we will give in and sin will consume our lives. Remember this: as long as we struggle against it we hold sin at bay and prevent it from totally consuming us. It won't be easy, and many times we will want to give up, but we need to remember there is hope found in the struggle.

To offer encouragement to people struggling with sin and doubt the writer of Hebrews wrote:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, 2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of bloodshed in your struggle against sin. (Hebrews 12:1-4; NET, emphasis added)

I believe that as we are in this fight with sin one of the most effective weapons we can use is to seek to do good. When we do good we take away opportunities for us to sin and we begin to cultivate good habits which are able to sustain life.

It is also important to realize that simply removing sin from our lives is not the answer. When we remove sin we create a vacuum and if we do not fill this vacuum with something that is good and beneficial then we will revert to our old sinful habits or pick up new ones. By giving our lives away to doing good we make less room for sin to exist in our lives.

This is what the Apostle Paul wrote about this subject:
16 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18; NET; emphasis mine).
It is my suggestion that God is interested in our continued struggle with sin, even when we don't seem to make much progress in defeating the sin in our lives. Please understand that struggling against sin is one way we demonstrate our trust in God. In other words our fight against our flesh is an act of faith. If we didn't have faith we wouldn't be concerned with the struggle and we would do what we thought was best. I think that God is very pleased when we continue to struggle against sin even when it seems to be a hopeless struggle.

Paul tells us that there are two forces at work in us: the flesh and the Spirit. This struggle isn't about our will power and strength but learning to be led by God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide us to the things God wants us to do. He will put us in positions to do good rather than evil. I want to encourage you to seek the Spirit's leading and find ministries to join and Christian friends who will encourage you in your walk with Jesus. Don't give up! It is through this struggle with sin that God molds us into the men and women He created us to be.


Katherine said...

Again, a good insight here, Paul. This is what bothers me about our postmodern sulture insistent on calling sins "mistakes." We should learn to recognize ourselves for who we really are. Only then can God work his amazing salvific power on us.

Christian Eye said...

Amen, brother! So you know I made a special post on my blog specifically to highlight your blog today. God bless!

Paul said...

I agree that when we water sins down to be mistakes we miss the reality that they are huge obstacles in our path to know God more fully and to become the people He created us to be. I also find it interesting that the churches that are growing the fastest in the United States are the ones who remain committed to calling sin-sin.

Thanks for spotlighting this post. I am truly humbled by the jesture.

Katherine said...

I guess I am not thinking of the same ones. I all I can think of is Osteen, and he is certainly not in that same camp. By the way, there was an interesting article about him in Time this week.

Paul said...


Maybe I should clarify myself a bit, the Christian Groups/Denominations which have been experiencing the greatest growth have been those who have remained more "conservative" (which I think includes calling sin-sin). The church groups/denominations that have become more liberal with a more self-esteem driven message have been in slow decline.

But I will also add this, I don't think we talk enough about sin and the real danger it poses to our lives. So while I think a great number of churches still think sin is sin, the leadership often ignores talking about it.

I haven't paid much attention to Osteen, the title of his book had me shaking my head (though I can't recall exactly what it was).

Katherine said...

I think it was "Living your Best Life Now." or something like that. Sounds like pure hedonism to me (and not the Piper kind).
Got ya'. Yes, the bigger, more "open-minded" ones are shrinking.

And yes, the leaders often ignore talking about it. For example, why are so many pastors obese?

Paul said...

I think you make an interesting point and one I will deal with in my next post.

Karaoke Machine said...

Thanks for your post. Have not visited in a while and it is great to still see insightful and positive posts on your blog.

Your post reminds me of Jung's hero myth in which the individual, after tearing down those obstacles in his/her life that keeps one from fulfilling our calling, plants a seed of promise for a more enlightened future.

Your post (much like the accompanying picture) honors that myth in that tearing down our support of sin and delusion is not enough but we need to plant the seeds of our future as well.

Paul said...

Thanks Karaoke Machine for stopping by again. I am glad that you enjoyed this post. I hope to hear from you again.

Ray said...

i never really thought of it on these terms before. thank you for giving me a different perspective and letting me realize that I do indeed have a someone whom not only knows what i am going through, Jesus , but cares for me and will forgive and forget my sins.

Ray said...

nice blog. it is giving me a different perspective on my nature and hope to carry on the good fight.

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