But anyway, this isn't about forgiveness of sins, although it is along the same lines. But I feel that it is a message that you can not hear too many times.
It is about living a life free from sin.
I feel like the wrong message is being proclaimed around Christendom today. Forgiveness is the key point-and that it should be! Forgiveness is an amazing, beautiful, and comforting thing, and hope in our darkness. But people don't often mention the fact that there is something even more amazing, beautiful, and comforting-to get out of that darkness. Maybe it comes with the modern Christian assumption that we don't have to be different from the world and we shouldn't "judge" people on what their personal lives-even if they're doing something wrong. Everyone's forgiven, so it's okay right?
Well, that's true. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 ESV) There are a million passages I could cite that prove that we are forgiven. But I'm not focusing on that. I'm focusing on freedom from sin. You've probably heard of Romans 6-8. Those are a couple of long, confusing chapters. Of course, people often omit mention of chapter 5, which I think is essential as well. They speak of our freedom from sin, and how we no longer have to listen to it! We are not slaves to sin anymore-which means that there is no requirement for us to sin, and we as Christians have the ability not to sin! I would much rather be able to go on without sinning than going on asking for forgiveness.
But wait! Nobody can be perfect, this mindset isn't realistic or fair! Yes, I agree with that. And that's why God offers us forgiveness all the time, because we can't be perfect! But here's how I think of it; if you're not fighting for perfection, what are you fighting for? The answer, obviously, is sin. I like the way I've heard it said-"sin becomes the exception rather than the rule." We may not be able to root out occasional sins from our lives, but we can and must get rid of habitual sins that are in control of our lives. Actually, the Bible makes it clear that real Christians do not let sin run around unchecked in their lives! But are you saying that everyone who is a Christian has to have no habitual sins to qualify? Of course not! I have broken several bad habits, but I still have sins that I'm trying to pull out of my soul, stuff like a quick temper with my little siblings and others. But we must be on an active patrol, watching for sin, and the moment we see it, making quick actions to get it out of our lives as fast as we can.
I've found several ways to break habitual sins that seem to work; and I'll compile a short list:
1. Fill your mind with the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted, He quoted Scripture back at Satan. It really does help to do that; to use my previous example, when I am tempted to become upset with my siblings, I think of James 1:20-"for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." If you find verses that denounce your sin, when Satan comes, tell him that you know the truth.
2. Pray-defensively and offensively. It does help to pray to God to deliver you, but another thing that helps is to pray for someone else, especially for someone else's salvation-because Satan hates nothing more than someone coming to Christ. When Satan sees that you are becoming a prayer warrior for Christ, he'll back off.
3. Run from temptation. Often, it is a physical action. Choosing to turn your eyes, ears, or body away from whatever is tempting you. Even if it's not (a bad thought, for example) do the utmost you can to draw yourself away from it. I've found that with thoughts, one thing I do is I quickly think of a Christian song and play it through in my head as I pray. It drowns out whatever was going to enter my head. I've also learned what I call "warning thoughts" as well-if I feel like a thought is straying, I cut it off right then and there. The Bible commands us to "Take every thought captive."
Remember, you are set free-and you are able to stay away from sin. If there is any verse I would recommend you to memorize out of the whole Bible, one of the top ones would be this: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV) Never forget-He knows. Don't say that it is too hard, for Satan really tempted Him with the world-and He turned it down.
If you're not fighting for perfection, what are you fighting for?