through His Word
by Lauren Craft
Katy here. This week are starting a new series called Building Your Arsenal: Truths of Victory from Romans 8. Once in a while I will spotlight a particular chapter of the Bible, and guest bloggers and I will write about principles of victory and encouragement. This spring and summer we're exploring Romans Chapter 8, and the first post is by Lauren Craft. What can motivate us to refuse sin? Lauren shares with us ...
We dangled our legs off the back patio. I was among six girls at my friend Katy’s house for her fifteenth birthday, laughing as we imitated a love ballad streaming through the radio. We admired the wild marsh behind her family’s property, where frogs croaked and splashed. In the woods on both sides of the home, crickets sang their own ballad to kick off the evening hours.
The smell of pizza lifted our spirits even more. "It's here!" Katy exclaimed as she hurried inside to help her mother with the delivery. As we placed our slices onto paper plates, a minor problem emerged. "Sorry, Girls. We're outta sodas. Here’s some milk," Katy's mom said.
Blushing, I accepted my cup with thanks. The taste of marina sauce with dairy was strange. Very strange. Don't laugh, I urged myself. I strained the muscles in my face to remain stiff. If you giggle, it will embarrass them. Keep taking bites. Don’t laugh!
Decades later, the memory still brings a smile to my face. If anything, it made the party even more perfect.
There’s a mismatch that’s far more serious, far more repulsive, and unfortunately quite common: sin mixed with obedience. I know I’m guilty of trying to obey God’s commands fully in one situation and letting my flesh rule in another.
Perhaps I deliver food to a needy family in the morning, and later I read a book I know I shouldn’t. Maybe I show grace to a coworker at the office, but at a church meeting I have prideful thoughts.
None of us will be sinless in our earthly lives. When we make a lifestyle of attempting to mix the flesh with the Spirit, however, we are simply setting ourselves up for failure. It sacrifices our ability to grow and walk in sync with God’s plans.
Romans 8:7 (NIV) tells us, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Here are several reasons why habitual sin cannot co-govern with obedience:
- One will always win out. When the time comes for us to make a difficult decision, and both sin and obedience have been prevalent in our hearts, which one will triumph? Let’s say someone offends us. If we have allowed a mix of grace and pride to control our actions, how will we phrase our response? In either case, our heart finds itself in a tug-of-war between two hostile competitors. We are essentially taking a gamble as to which one will win.
- The flesh has a controlling personality. Once we have a taste of the world’s temptations, we can want more and more, until we are trapped, staring down the consequences. Instead, we can avoid taking that first taste. Or if it’s too late for that, we can work hard to abstain from the temptation until it starts to fade. We don’t have the strength to do this our own power, but through God’s indwelling Spirit, we always do (2 Tim 1:7).
- We sacrifice our growth. Imagine you head outside for a walk. It would be frustrating to take a step forward and then a step backward, over and over. If I did this while walking the paths near my house, I’d miss seeing the birds or trees around each new curve.
In a similar way, letting sin tiptoe into our lives sets back progress we’ve made through obedience. Turning our back on sin, however, allows us to move forward, allowing God to sculpt us more into the image of Christ (1 John 2:6).
Obeying God’s will always bring far greater joy, comfort, and pleasure than the flesh, no matter how alluring sin disguises itself to appear. Psalm 34:8 (NKJV) says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
Let’s allow Him to clear away what’s repulsive, walking forward with only a taste for His will, hungry to do what’s right in His eyes.
There are many godly activities that can replace our taste for sin. What are some God-pleasing things you enjoy?
Prayer: Loving Father, declare a victory over any wars between my sin and my flesh. If there’s a temptation that continues to entice me, plant a distaste for it inside my heart now. Give me the strength to focus solely on Your will, each and every day, morning, noon, and night. Amen.
Lauren Craft believes God gives each of His children a great purpose, and fulfilling that mission is one of the greatest joys we can experience before reaching our eternal home. Lauren has worked as a journalist for twelve years, aided in Bible translation, and shared her hope in Jesus Christ in the U.S. and abroad. Her writings have appeared in more than a dozen book compilations, including Breaking the Chains and Heart Renovation. Connect with her at www.sharpeyeedits.net.
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