photo credit: Steve Weatherford
Just like the fact that we all unique, we all have unique sins. We all struggle with different things. No one loves God exactly like you, nobody else learns exactly like you do, and nobody else sins exactly like you, either.
To use me as an example; I am a leader and so one of my sins is I tend to use people. I don’t show them appreciation, I forget that there is a living person there with real feelings. Sometimes people become tools to leaders.
Another of my signature sins has to do with appearing better than I really am. Of course it is, I’m a pastor! Pastor’s don’t ever sin, right? It’s funny (actually it’s sad) if a pastor ever gets fired, why do they get fired? Someone finds out they’re a sinner. Which is sad really, everybody gets to sin and struggle except the pastor. If we find out they have issues, they’re fired. Problem is, when your sin is trying to appear better than you are, one of the things you end up doing is hiding away.
We all had freedoms right? We have the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to God, to say “yes” or “no” to the Spirit all of the time, and at the same time we have the freedom to sin.
Romans 6:12-13 Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
The bottom line is you either obey and trust the Spirit of God, or you obey the flesh and you obey the world. One way flows with the river, the other obstructs it. And you may not like to ask the question, “what sin damns up the river” but I find that when you realize and name those shadows in your life, those elements of darkness, you become less vulnerable to them.
Sin is selfishness. It’s true, any sin you have in your life, if you look hard enough you’ll find that selfishness is at the bottom of it.
Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Rivers flow when we surrender to them. Rivers stop when we damn them up. And the truth is, I can place my faith in my own hands, where I have the control to stop and start how I want, or I can place my life in His hands and give him total control.
John Calvin said, “As the surest source of destruction to men is to obey themselves, so the only haven of safety is to have no other will, no other wisdom, than to follow the Lord wherever he leads. Let this, then, be the first step, to abandon ourselves, and devote the whole energy of our minds to the service of God.”
That’s the hard part, right? Abandoning ourselves. A favorite phrase of mine is, “There is a God and it isn’t you.” Knowing that truth is the beginning of wisdom. In fact, what was the very first recorded sin in the bible? Eve said she wasn’t supposed to eat the apple and if she does, she’ll die. And what does the snake say?
Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
You will be like God. The Bible says “the fool says in his heart there is no God.” Psalm 14:1. I think the bigger fool looks in the mirror and says, “there is a God and it’s me,”
Jesus said, Matthew 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
John 12:24 I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
And abandoning ourselves doesn’t mean being passive and it doesn’t mean giving up, it doesn’t mean you stop thinking, surrendering to God is the glad and joyful acknowledgement that there is a creator, and there is a plan. God is running the show, and He is in the driver’s seat and not you.
In Romans 12:1 Paul explains what this looks like – he says I appeal to you by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship
You know what a living sacrifice is? Well, a typical sacrifice is killed, laid on the alter, separated and eaten. But Paul says we are to be a “living” sacrifice. That means we daily set aside our own desires and we daily submit to God. We daily say “no” to the old self and we daily live for God.
When I take steps to relinquish control of my life and give it over to God…
Ultimately what happens is…
I take a little more of myself out of the center of the universe…
and I place God there.