“For sin shall not be master over you…” Romans 6:14
“For the love of Christ controls us…so that they who live, no longer live for themselves…” 2 Cor. 5:14,15
How do we gain freedom from habitual sin? There has been much discussion lately over methods of renouncing recurring patterns of sin in our lives. Christians labor, in ridiculously frustrating failure, to manage repetetive sin.
Some people say that you need to repent from your sin and proceed forth in newness of life.
Other people say that you are an addict and need to treat habitual sin as an addiciton.
Some say that you must recognize that the sin is only a symptom of a deeper wound that must be healed by God.
Still others say that you must receive your true identity from your Heavenly Father, and you will recognize the temptation for what it is, attack from the enemy.
The reality is that all of these are true in different ways for different people. Let’s take the obvious issue for a lot of guys: lust. One guy may struggle with this because he is looking for pleasure, while for another it is because his heart bears the wounds of abuse from childhood. The first man may need a call to genuine repentance, while the second man may need prayer and counseling for God to illuminate the source of the behaviors. After all, Jesus did come to, among other things, “Heal the brokenhearted.”
The “addict” may need to receive his new identity and birthright as a son of God in order to shed the labels and victim mentality so as to rise into to power of the Spirit. Finally, other men, already aware of their “sonship,” priesthood and royalty as a child of the King, may need to respond to the Father’s invitations to relilnquish, one by one, anything that we derive pleasure and fulfillment from, outside of Him.
What does this look like? Let me start by saying that it is not a popular message, and a man won’t want to hear it until the Father brings him to this threshold. Pornography, anymore, is pretty obvious when it comes up as a temptation. I recognize the patterns now; I know when, how and why I will be tempted. I have been able to move past lust as a primary distraction, and move out of sin management and into proactivity with the Lord.
In the last few years, the Father has given me more and more opportunities to yield other things that I looked for pleasure in. I was an emotional spender; if I had a bad day, it felt good to spend a little money. Well, He fixed that! My income is significantly less that what it used to be. I used to derive just a little enrichment from cracking open my favorite chilled soft drink when I got home from work. He asked me to give that up.
There are many more examples of things that He has asked me to yield to Him, and instead, come to Him for my emotional fulfillment. Many of these relinquished treasures would seem very trivial and inconsequential. It is because they are! But, then again, so is anything we would run to to escape and self-medicate. Is it lust for you? Emotional indulgence? Gluttony? Spending? Violence? Laziness? Alcohol? Video Games?
What is keeping you, whether iron shackles of sin, or stringy, sticky, spiderwebs of possessions, from finding your identity, or calling, or authority, or power in the Spirit? Let me tell you, not to encourage a life of asceticism, that when we respond to the Father’s invitations to simplify, strip off and submit in these areas, this is when we start rounding the corner into fulness of life and living in the Spirit.