This is clearly seen when we decide to attack the sin that continues to be part of our lives. Too often the followers of Jesus label ourselves moral failures when we are unable to achieve victory over the sin that plagues our lives.
You may have tried to stop gossiping, but every now and then you can’t resist the temptation to pass along a particular juicy bit of information. Perhaps you have been trying to quit telling “dirty” jokes, but when you get together with the guys you can’t seem to pass up the opportunity to join in. Then there are the things that you do when no one else is around, from what you look at on the internet to the movies that you watch. All followers of Jesus have sin that seems to stick with them no matter what they do.
That is what I want to encourage all of us today. Yes, God wants us to overcome the sin in our lives. Sin hinders our relationship with Him and is a stumbling block as we try to reach out to others with the grace of God.
I believe that God is more interested in the desires of our hearts than our sinlessness. God is pleased when we enter the battle against sin and start to take action against those behaviors that have held us in bondage for so long. Through the struggle we have with sin God shapes us into the people He wants us to be.
Please remember have that every sin you commit doesn’t make you a moral failure. As long as we live in these bodies of flesh in a world that is dominated by evil (things opposed to the life God wants us to live) we are going to sin. We need to remember the amazing grace of God, for without the safety net of grace every sin would result in our destruction. Not only is God patient with us but it is also only by His power that ultimate victory from sin can be achieved. We cannot undo the sin we have committed so our only hope is to be saved from sin, that is what God has done through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The habits that have been ingrained in our lives have often taken years to form, and we cannot expect to overcome those sins overnight. We are going to win and lose battles as we fight the war of righteousness. It is an act of faith and it pleases God when we engage the enemy and begin the long campaign to rid our lives of sin in order to develop the holy character God wants us to have.
The writer of Hebrews wrote about this truth:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4; ESV)
These witnesses to the life of faith all struggled with the sin in their lives. The great icons of faith in the Old Testament (Abraham, Moses, and David) all had periods of life when they disobeyed God and sinned, but God still counted them as righteous. Why? Because their hearts belonged to Him and they were willing to follow God wherever He led them.
What matters most to God are our hearts. We can beat ourselves up because we still have sin in our lives, but God is pleased when we faithfully follow Him. I am not saying sin is not important, what I am saying is that when our hearts belong to God then sin becomes insignificant. Sin is insignificant because we are willing to do whatever it takes to live our lives according to God’s will. That means we will repent and we will take steps to keep ourselves from falling into the same traps again. To have a heart that belongs to God means that we will fight against the sin we have in our lives.
Satan will attack us and try to get us to doubt our salvation by reminding us of the sin we cannot seem to overcome. He wants us to get frustrated and give up. Remember as long as we are in conflict with sin then God is pleased, because He knows our hearts belong to Him.