Our dog, Sandy, turned eight years old last week. She is one of the best, most obedient, well-trained dogs I have ever known. But despite all her great qualities, our sweet Sandy has an addiction.
Many times, Julia and I have returned home to discover trash bags torn open and scattered across the floor, looking as though wild animals have attacked. Sharing details would turn your stomach. The dog has a sickness. We’ll leave it at that. She just can’t help herself. Her little garbage-loving Mr. Hyde comes out and does awful things.
I hate to admit it, but I feel like Sandy’s trash addiction is a living reminder God gave me of my own predisposition to sin.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” -Colossians 3:1-3
Resisting temptation can seem overwhelming, if not impossible. But victory is absolutely possible. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God promises to be faithful when we are tempted to even provide a way out. But in the end, choosing holiness over sin is just that–a choice. And in order to make the right choice, we must hold firm to the truth.
Communion with God is Better Than Sin
How many times have you lost the battle against sin, and during the guilty moments that follow, concluded that your desire for sin was just simply stronger than your desire for Jesus? Yeah, been there.
But in his book, The Weight of Glory, CS Lewis suggests that our desires are not too strong, but are actually too weak.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We sin because we think it will fulfill our desires. But what Lewis is saying here is that if we were truly interested in what fulfills our desires, we’d never desire anything but Christ because only He can fill our God-thirsty souls. And while the choice between sin and holiness can sometimes seem like an even match, that is only because we can’t even comprehend the value of an offer of holiness.
The truth is, holiness is better than sin. Every time. Believe it.
The Holy Spirit is Our Power for Fighting Sin
How many times have you lost the battle against sin, and during the guilty moments that follow, concluded that next time, you will just do better? Yep, been there, too.
Our pastor, Randy Pope, says that every morning–every morning–as soon as he wakes up and before his feet even touch the floor, he prays a prayer that goes something like this:
“Lord, protect my mind and what I think today. Protect my eyes and what they see today. Protect my ears and what they hear today. Protect my mouth and what it says today. Protect my hands and what they do today. Protect my feet and where they go today. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, use the members of my body for Your glory today. Amen.”
What a simple, but powerful prayer! Randy wakes up and the first thing he acknowledges is that he doesn’t have what it takes to fight sin. Instead, he actively depends on the Holy Spirit for the power to beat back temptation.
Understanding our weakness is the first step to defeating sin, and we must trust the Holy Spirit for the power to defeat sin. If we think we can do it on our own, we are fooling ourselves.
His Grace Is Greater Than Our Sin
I love this great, deep, redeeming truth. No matter how far I wander, God’s grace goes further. No matter how low I fall, His grace is deeper. I love the chorus of the old hymn:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
A great motivator against the temptation to sin is the thought of Jesus, innocent as He was, stretched out naked on a Cross, suffering by bleeding to death because of my sin. If He loved me enough to redeem me, then what lengths can I go to that are are too far in avoiding sin for Him?
Even when I sin, to know that He will always freely forgive is such an incredible thought, that it often puts temptation into perspective and motivates me to want to be more like Him.
What You Value Matters
Driving a car is really simple: turn the wheel in the direction you want to go, and the car will follow. The same is true with making good choices. Understand the glory of Jesus Christ, and value being like Him. Set your mind on Him. Your choices always follow your values.
So always make your goal to value Christ above all things. Hide His Word in your heart. Make a habit of being around His people. Make His priorities of serving others your priority. Treasure Him above all else because as Jesus said:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:21