Thursday, June 2, 2011

"The Devil Made Me Do It!"

Sin is an awful thing, isn't it? Most of us, who claim to be Spirit-filled followers of Jesus Christ, would say that we long to be pure people of God who overcome sin and walk in sweet fellowship with our Heavenly Father. However, the reality of the condition of our lives suggests that sin is still very much an active part of our existence.

Many of us are walking examples of Paul's words in Romans 7. Here we read, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15). A little later Paul says, "So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing" (7:17-19). Many of us would say a hearty, "Amen!" Even the most mature follower of Jesus Christ still finds the flesh-spirit battle to be a fierce one.

What is sin? According to 1 John 3:4, sin is "lawlessness". One theologian has defined sin as "any lack of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature" (R.C. Sproul, Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith, p. 143). The Bible simply states it this way, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sin--whether it be doing something that is against God's will or not doing something that is a part of God's will--causes us to come up short of God's perfect standard and glory. This is a major problem for us because the Bible reveals that God is perfectly holy and won't allow sin to be in His presence (Psalm 24).

Moreover, the consequences of sin are disastrous for us. Romans also says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23). When our first ancestors (Adam and Eve, Genesis 1-3) sinned, they incurred the penalty of this act of rebellion--physical death and spiritual separation from God. Every human being who has ever lived, except for the sinless Son of God, has sinned and thus been in need of a solution to the sin problem.

I will take up the topic of God's provision for our sin in my next post. For now, I wanted to share one more passage that talks about sin. James 1:13-15 states, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." I'm sure you've heard someone say, "Well, I'm sorry, but the devil made me do it!" Certainly, it is true that we have an adversary, the devil, who is out to trip us up and vainly attempts to rob God of His full glory (1 Peter 5:8). However, the reality is that the sin that we commit is born out of a fleshly, rebellious propensity in our own hearts. We need to appreciate the wiles of the devil, but we need to take ownership of our own responsibility to submit our hearts and actions to the loving control of God's Spirit.

As Paul says in Galatians 5:15, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." God is glorified to redeem us through the blood of Jesus, His Son, and to reshape us through the abiding presence and control of His Spirit. In our struggle with sin, we need to remember that we are powerless against the flesh--on our own. However, God is placed within our hearts the source of power to walk in such a way that is approved by Him. 1 John 4:4 states, "...he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." The Word says, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3).

Sin is a problem. It's a problem for me, and it's a problem for you. But, because of Jesus Christ and His perfect loving sacrifice on the cross, the power of sin has received its own death blow (Hebrews 2:14-15). And, because God knows that we struggle and fail to live for Him, He comes to live within us. What a great hope!

Is there an area of your life--or, maybe a specific sin--that you need to give to the Lord?

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