Thursday, 3 October 2013

Refuse to settle

There will have been times in your life when sin has had a strong grip on you, through some desire, compulsion or even some addiction that has got hold of you.  I know this because you have to be alive to be reading this and if you are alive, you will be having ongoing struggles with sin! In my own life I can think of one such stronghold that I still struggle with at times, as well as one stronghold that I have only recently started facing up to. Sin is a dirty, rotten, foul smelling tyrant! Sin has a pungent stink to it. Before we admit to its lurking presence and face up to it, we often try to spray air freshener to disguise the smell, but let’s be honest, it doesn't really mask it, but only adds to the stench and makes it smell even fruitier.

Sin feels like the never ending plague, a flood of selfishness that spoils all that is good. One day there will be no more sin.  I am really looking forward to that day, aren’t you? That hugely exciting time is possible only because one day someone dealt with sin, once and for all. God in human form took our punishment for sin. Jesus did the unthinkable for all people. He came down to our level to save us from the punishment for our sins. He took what we deserved. How amazing is that? None of the other so called gods claim to have done that. No other god loves like Jesus loves. No other god has mercy like the Father God has mercy. No other god dwells within a repentant believer like the Holy Spirit does. Sin has lost its sting, thanks to Jesus only. He has taken the punishment you deserved for the things you have done. Jesus only requires one thing from us. Repent and believe!! Don't forget, not just believe. REPENT and believe.  Repentance is where we say, I am sorry for ... I really am.

At this point you need to ask yourself the question “Do I really want to follow Jesus and die to self?” If you really do, then you must refuse to settle for the bondage of sin. Jesus died to set you free from that bondage, beginning here and now in this life.

Why do we struggle to let go of some sins?  Is it because we enjoy them or do they make us feel important?  There are a whole host of reasons as to why we choose to cultivate our natural bias towards sin. So then, how do we deal with the pull of sin in our daily lives? Once we have repented, how do we stop repeating that sin which can so easily entangle us? David Platt suggests we approach it in one of two ways. Firstly "the more common yet most unsuccessful answer is to try to conquer sin by working hard to change our actions. Much like superficial religion, we often seek to tame our desires with a list of dos and don'ts."  I've gone down the “just try harder” track, but no matter how determined I am, I eventually fail. God doesn't need another “try hard”.  So what's the other option, "we can conquer sin by trusting Christ to change our letting Christ overcome us with the power of his satisfaction." What I would like to know is what does the “roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty” version of that look like for me personally. David Platt sums it up by saying "We know, believe and trust that Jesus is better and we refuse to give in to that sin because we have found greater gratification in our Saviour."

When the Holy Spirit works in your heart in this area of your life, you are standing on the verge of a choice to sin or not. Try this. Place both hands in front of you (metaphorically or physically, whatever works for you) and ask yourself the question; What do I want the most? On the one hand to follow Christ Jesus, or on the other hand to give in to my sinful desires? If we face sin this way, then we have a dependence on the Holy Spirit to convict, to strengthen and to give us a way out. Trying harder just doesn't work.

The fruit of our life will be a genuine testimony to those around us who have not started to follow Christ yet. In one sense sin is the fruit of our humanity, because “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. There is however another wonderful option. Our fruit can be the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.

Dirk Paterson said "Most of us settle for aspiring to, rather than living in the fruit of the gospel." Don't settle for a life bound by sin. Instead continually choose to follow Jesus through the power of the Spirit. Not just say the sinner’s prayer and aspire or try to do better, but to pray for the strength to actually follow Jesus with your whole life. Don't settle for less. Respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Hold out your hands. Make a choice between following Jesus or following your own desires. 

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