The Sin in Me
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who doe such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV)
I don’t know about you, but for me, there are certain passages in the Bible that really make me uncomfortable because it’s as if God is standing right in front of me, looking me straight in the eyes, and He’s literally just listing all the sins that are present in my life despite my best efforts to eradicate them totally out of my life once and for all!
Of course, “my best efforts” are nothing more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) to Him, but that doesn’t mean I should ever stop waging war against the Old Adam within me. It just means I have to remind myself that it’s not my war to fight and win. He has done it for me on the cross long before today.
When the Lord looks at me He sees His Son. His righteousness was imputed to me for no reason other than that He loves me and I was a wretched sinner in need of His saving grace. Christ saves. I can’t save myself. Christ redeems. I can’t redeem myself.
Furthermore, I know perfectly well that I can’t ever truly get rid of them in this life, but I can pray, I can resist in the sufficient grace and the faith that’s given to me, and I can say “No!” to giving them room to breathe in my life.
Any sin that has room to breathe in your life is just looking to strangle you to death completely (Romans 6:23), and yet, we go out of our way to make excuses for it, to invite it into our lives thinking we can somehow reform sin and make it into something we would be happy to live with long-term.
Ironically, the sins we try to save become the very things that enslave us.
The pride that invariably comes with any attempt by us to redeem sin, leaves us thinking that we are in complete control at all times when, in fact, we are same old self like dogs on a leash being led through this life by Old Adam, or “like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11).
We’re not gods ourselves, but we act like it when try to create a reality where sin can thrive in the dark and thrive in the light and we just don’t care one way or another.
Why should we? Once we start down that road, our faith is replaced with a philosophy that screams, “If it feels good, then do it! If we’re right, then everyone else is wrong!”
As a result, we compartmentalize sinful behaviors and we erect temples of worship for our pet sins to be put on a pedestal in our hearts and minds, thinking “it’s no big deal” because the temple is hidden and secluded from the eyes and ears of those closest to us who could call us to repent of them.
But we forget that this spiritual Temple of Doom is not hidden from God! “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2) and “even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:4) is what we’re told.
Still, we insist that we can live just fine without ever trying to battle sin. We rationalize sin and think that as long as we keep it hidden in our thoughts and don’t actually act on them, then it’s just fine.
Once again, once we start to travel down that road, that’s nothing more than the sound of our faith gasping for air! “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath” (Psalm 94:11).
Thankfully, “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).
In the end, we need to recall that our pet sins require us to constantly serve them, when in contrast, the Lord and Savior comes to serve us the grace, mercy, and forgiveness we need to destroy their power over us.