This week's 'thought' comes to you from Howard Hendricks and is found in a book entitled, "Practical Christianity." The book is filled with of hundreds of short articles written by well-known Christian leaders, dealing with everything from the nature of God, to forgiveness, to growth in godliness, to prayer and marriage and missions. This article is entitled: "What Happens When I Sin." I trust you will find it helpful. Enjoy.
"The theological definition of sin is any lack of conformity to the will of God. Most theologians would distinguish between two kinds of sin. One is the sin of omission -- the things we fail to do. The other is the sin of commission -- the things we do that are wrong.
When the word sin is used in the New Testament, it means 'to miss the mark.' The mark it misses is God. Our sin may involve other people, but our real sin is against God. David realized this when he said, 'Against you, you only, have I sinned' (Psalm 51:4). In one sense that was not true. He sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, he sinned against the nation, he sinned against himself. But he realized that his sin was ultimately against God.
When I sin, fellowship with my heavenly Father is broken. There is a difference between fellowship being broken and a relationship being severed. If I offend my wife, I break the fellowship, but I don't break the marriage relationship. We may not talk for a day, but we are still married. In the same way sin affects my fellowship with God, but not my relationship with Him.
When we sin, we have only two options -- we can cover it, or we can confess it. 'If we say we don't sin, we make God a liar and the truth is not in us' (I John 1:10). To confess our sins we need to follow the ABC's: Admission - admitting we have sinned; Brokenness - agreeing with God about our sin (how wrong it truly is); and Change - turning away from our sin in repentance. We have not truly confessed our sins until we stop them. If we continue to practice our sins, we are just playing games. We have to change our habit patterns...
If we want freedom from sin, we have to answer the question: 'How badly do I want to respond to what God says?' If I want to respond, that is exactly what will happen. We are free to choose, but we are not free to escape the consequences. A person on the tenth floor of a building is free to jump out the window, but once he jumps out the window, he is a slave to the law of gravity that will dash him on the concrete below.
Christian living is a matter of right choices and decisions. We must remember, however, that though the choice is ours, the power is God's... We are all bound to sin, because we are all sinners. The question is not, 'When will we stop sinning?' but, 'What can we learn from our failures?' When we realize we can't conquer sin -- only God can -- then we have discovered the essence of the Christian life. The Christian life is not difficult; it is impossible. It is a supernatural life. When I try, I fail; but when I trust, God succeeds."
As a new Christian (back in 1980) a good friend in the Dominican Republic once told me: "If you can't bring yourself to want to give up a certain sin, then the first step is simply to pray that God would change your heart and make you want to do so. Pray to Him in all honesty and say, 'I don't really want to give it up, please God, make me want to.'"
I would add something to my friends advice that I have also found helpful. Instead of simply asking that God would make us want to be done with a certain sin, we can also pray: "God make me want to by making my sin as detestable and repulsive and sickening to me as it is to You." Or again, "Father, show me how very much the Lord Jesus had to suffer to pay the penalty for these sins of mine." When God answers both those prayers, I believe you will have very little problem turning from the sins that seem so precious to you now that you can't bring yourself to even want to let go of them.
With earnest prayers that we as God's people will come to hate sin as much as He does, Pastor Jeff