[CF Devotionals] 2010-07-16 - How Not to Sin

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 super fly 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)
  1. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
  2. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
  3. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
  4. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
  5. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
  6. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
  7. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
  8. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
  9. but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
  10. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
  11. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

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.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NASB)
  1. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
  2. Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
  3. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness " Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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 but yet I jump right back in later on. I have prayed to God to help me not do this one thing and it seems like I do fine 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 has 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 devil 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 now wonder that the world wants little to do with Christianity; it sees it as a religion of don’ts. We should be about the dos. Do love God. Do love yourself and others just as much. Notice these two greatest commandments aren't some of the don'ts in the old list often but dos.

Matthew 10:7-8 (NASB)
  1. "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
  2. "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

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)
  1. With what shall I come to the LORD
    And bow myself before the God on high?
    Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
    With yearling calves?
  2. Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,
    In ten thousand rivers of oil?
    Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
    The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
  3. He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the LORD require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God?

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.


[email adam] acdum@hotmail.com

All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.