Word of the Day – I am seeing a new version of Christianity emerging. I see it in our music, I see it in our posts online, and I am beginning to see it in the Church. It is the gospel that Jesus has saved you IN your sins rather than FROM your sins. When I was young, I remember singing about breaking chains and overcoming the sin that binds us. I can picture the many men and women of God who would tell their stories of transformation as Jesus radically changed their hearts and lives.
But today we are finding a much more somber gospel. One of pain and defeat. It suggests that God will forgive you of your sins, but that you are going to be broken until you get to heaven. It is a gospel who caters to victim mentality. It provides justification to remain defeated in whatever Satan has control over in your life. It is a gospel that promises freedom after death. It is all about the future. Yet that is not the gospel I see in scripture.
For once we allow ourselves to believe and strive to know and obey the Lord, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and begins to literally transform our brokenness into His holiness. It is a gospel of the present and not the future. We are not called to have hope in the afterlife, we are called to live in hope today as Christ is glorified in our weakness. We get to have joy and peace in a broken world.
So what about our sin? Can we really overcome our sin and break free from the things that cause us guilt and shame? Listen to the Apostle Paul as he shares about our ability to reject and overcome sin. He writes, 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
You see, sin is no longer our master if we are in Christ. The Truth is, Satan will do his very best to make you think he has this great power over you but Christ has given you power to stand against the flesh. That’s why scripture says, 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-8
Am I trying to say that we have the power (in Christ) to overcome our sins? Absolutely. Now I wonder if Paul ever ran into a fellow Christian who asked him that question? Of course he did. And this was the response he would give to those who would say it was too hard to stop sinning. He would say, 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin… Hebrews 12:4 NASB Basically, Paul would say, “You just don’t want it bad enough”. You see, you have to desire freedom with a passion if you really want to experience it. Picture the man with his head being held under the water. Soon enough, the motivation to breath will be so great, that that man will do anything to break free. Therefore, Paul (knowing that we have the power to overcome sin) questions the priority, level of belief or motivation of those who continue in sin as Christians.
As a pastor, it would be easy for me to preach about sin without sharing my own struggles with it. I am a normal man just like everyone else and I face similar temptations. I would love to say that I have reached a point where I live a perfect life in regards to my thoughts and actions in every instance, yet I still periodically fail and fall. And when I do, I seek Christ on my knees and ask forgiveness for my sin. Oh, how I yearn for the time when Christ returns when all sinfulness will be permanently removed.
But more importantly, I wanted to share an example of how we can overcome. As we all know by now, the hardest temptations always seem to come when we are alone. For it is in those moments (when no one is looking), that our thoughts and actions truly reveal the desires of our hearts. As for me, as most men do, I have always struggled with lust. The other day, I found myself all alone in my house. And temptation came. It was fierce. It was constant. And in that moment I knew that whatever thoughts or actions I wanted to do would never be known by anyone but me and God.
Have you ever felt the furry of such intense temptation? So what did I do? I thought back to Paul’s words on resisting sin. I thought to myself, “Do I really have the power to take control of my thoughts right now and overcome this temptation? And the Spirit of God reminded me that I do have that power through Him. So I found myself in that moment overcoming sin. And once I did, I thanked God and worshiped Him knowing that Christ was dwelling in me. For no one can overcome even the slightest temptation without the power of God.
For many the gospel is changing. Many fight depression and face tremendous urges toward immorality. Our daily choices keep us in bondage as we entertain the flesh and fail to love our neighbor. Our greed and gluttony continue to reveal our idolatry toward the living God. But that is not the gospel that brings life and joy.
The true gospel is one of transformation. It is one of the miraculous. It is a grace and a mercy brought on not by our merit, but out of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Never believe for one moment that you have to remain in your sin or continue to live in your current state of depression or misery. Christ has come to set us free today. And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
May the Lord bless you and give you peace.