Based on Biblical Text Proverbs 28:13 (KJV)
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”
On Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) at our traditional “Pancake Supper,” we entered into a covenant with the Lord. We decided that our sacrifice for Lent would be one of our sins. Yes, it sounds radical! Our prayer is that as we journey with the Lord this season and the urge to end the covenant intensifies we will be forced to call on Him often, if not continuously, for the help we need to succeed. By Easter morning, we will have cultivated a much stronger relationship.
As we navigate this season of repentance, we seek to be free from sin’s power. We have all at some point or another had difficulty in dealing with a particular temptation or sin. How do we achieve victory over temptation that leads to sin today? First, we must understand the unique nature of temptation and ways to avoid it.
I would like to suggest from the onset that there is a difference between what we call trials and temptations. A trial is different in that it can be sent by God or allowed by God in order to deepen our walk with Him or to bring about God’s plan for our life. On the other hand, a temptation is never directed by God, but rather its purpose is destructive. Thus, temptation is not sin itself. The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted. Temptation can make us stronger if we can successfully overcome it.
There are a few things we should know about temptation. We must understand that temptation is inevitable. The Lord teaches us to pray each day that He would “lead us not into temptation.” It is never directed by God as He is never effected by sin, doesn’t make any decisions effected by sin and cannot cause or lead a person to sin because He is totally pure and holy. Temptation is an individual matter. In other words, Satan will always attack when and where we are most vulnerable. We are admonished to never deliberately place ourselves in a position to be tempted. That, however, poses a particular challenge as we are tempted when we, by our own evil desire, are dragged away and enticed. There is a pattern. A thought enters our minds, we pamper it; it germinates and grows into an evil act. After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.
When it comes to sin, it is a matter of the heart. As it relates to sin, we need to have our hearts so radically changed that we want to do the right thing. The apostle Paul calls it the obedience of faith. He says in Romans 1:5, “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” This is why Jesus can say “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We must consider the power and the depth of sin. Sin is more than acts of disobedience as the act of sin arises out of a heart that is sinful. Our hearts are polluted and contaminated. All sin arises from a corrupt heart. Sin is more than what we do or do not do; it is a power and influence in the heart. Sin has a life of its own that seeks to rule us like a master. God tells Cain, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Sin is subtle. Sin seems to just come up on us. Sin creeps up from behind and hooks us before we know what has hit us. Sin is cunning, luring us in by looking good, smelling good, tasting good and feeling good. Sin seems fun, exciting and can be exhilarating. Sin appears harmless thus we think we can play with sin. But before we realize it we find ourselves engulfed and by then it is too late. One taste, one touch, one sip, one time, one kiss, one look and before we know it we are hooked.
Sin is only a symptom. The act of sin is only the symptom of sin in our heart. Sin is a personality and an enemy that dresses up as a friend. Jesus does not like sin! Nothing or no one that seeks to separate us from Jesus is a friend. Jesus is serious about sin and his approach to sin is violent. Jesus says, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Jesus, however, does not mean to literally tear out your eye or remove your hand. Why, because sin is not in the eye or in the hand. Sin is in the heart.
What Jesus is saying is to be ruthless and radical. He warns us that we are to get rid of everything and anything that leads us down the path of sin. Jesus admonishes us that we are not to play with sin. We must cut off the source of sin. Whatever is the source of temptation, we are to get rid of it. The question we must ask ourselves is, “How bad do we want to get rid of sin in our life?” More to the point, “How much do we love the Lord and hate sin?”
We are challenged to set our mind on things of the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires. Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The Bible warns that the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. In other words, if we are going to put sin to death by the Spirit, we have to direct our mind and our heart away from fleshly thoughts and direct them towards “things of the Spirit.”
We must set our mind on the Words of God. The Bible says “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So to put to death the deeds of the body “by the Spirit” is to “set our mind on the things of the Spirit,” embracing the words of God. We must submit our will to God’s. We must commit ourselves daily to God.
Finally, we are challenged to hear the Word of God and receive it with faith. The Bible asks, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” The answer is that the Spirit is given to us for the killing of sin not by works of the law but by “hearing with faith.” When temptation comes, “when you are tempted,” we have to expect it to come and we must stay ready. We are to put on the full armor of God. We must resist and then we need to look to a word from God that promises He will be more for us and do more for us than what this sin promises.
As we approach the Sabbath
Sunday, March 30, 2014, is the Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Join our Worship Experience at 10:00 am.
Church School begins at 8:45 am.
Scripture Lesson for this Sunday
1 Samuel 16:1b, 1 Samuel 16:6-7, 1 Samuel 16:10-13a
There is a Word from the Lord!
This is a Women’s Missionary Service Sunday, and the message will be delivered by the Rev. Dr. Michelle Johnson