Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. — 1 John 2:15-17
This past Sunday Brother Denny spoke about the nature of temptation, and the relation that temptation has to sin in the life of a Christian. There are three areas in which both the non-Christian and the Christian are tempted. They are, as John lists in his epistle, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh is the love of physical pleasure, in whatever form it comes. The lust of the eyes is the love of material possessions, be they small or large in number, size, or cost. The pride of life is the love of power or prestige — one might say in another way that it’s the love of self-importance. All three of these temptations face every human being on the face of this planet.
There are some important things we ought to note about the nature of temptation and how it relates to sin. Christians do not struggle with sin. Sin is merely surrender. Once you have sinned, you have by definition given up any struggle that there was. The Christian’s struggle is with temptation. Temptation is not in and of itself sin, and God does not tempt us. Satan is the only tempter we have.
Of the tempter: he is a liar. He will even use God’s Word in an attempt to deceive us. A verse from a song comes to mind that describes this adversary: for still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his power and craft are great, and armed with cruel hate; on earth is not his equal. He will lie to us and attempt to convince us that guilt is something we should feel over simply being tempted and not actually falling. He will attempt to confuse us regarding our identity as God’s children.
Who are we then? The Bible teaches that human nature is either fallen or redeemed. These are the only two options and the two cannot coexist with one another. Those who do not have Christ are by nature fallen. They are sinners and if they remain in their sin, they will die as sinners and receive the due penalty of their unforgiven sin, which is separation from God and eternal punishment in hell. Believers are not sinners saved by grace, as some might contend. Believers are children of God. If we truly have Christ, we have a new heart and it is good. The place for sin is gone from the believer’s life. There is no place whatsoever for sin in the life of the believer. It is contrary to our new nature. Sin has no power over us. We are no longer obligated to be its slave. Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin so that we are free to become slaves of righteousness.
As Christians, we must remember that what goes on the cross dies on the cross. Sin was put upon the cross, and with Christ’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection it was put to death. Satan is never allowed to tempt us beyond that which we are able to bear. God always makes a way out. We sin because we don’t look for the way out that God has provided. Temptation is the room in which the snare of sin resides. God has given us at least one escape from every temptation we face.
So how do we deal with sin in the life of a believer? We talked about this at 707 last night, interestingly enough. We confront it. We stop hiding like Adam and Eve. We stop lying about it like Cain after he murdered his brother Abel. If we live in the flesh, we will die. We must live in the spirit, because this is the path to life. Sin is crouching at the door, it’s desire is for us, it desires to devour us, and if we walk through those doors outside of which sin is crouching, it will have us because we have given it an opportunity to dwell inside us where it does not belong. Either we are killing sin or it is killing us. What we plant in our lives is what we will harvest. If we plant things of the flesh, we will harvest death and destruction. If we plant things of the spirit, we will harvest life and peace.
Sin has been dealt with in the past couple of weeks and is even now continuing to be dealt with in the lives of certain brothers and sisters who have fallen. Sin doesn’t belong in our lives as children of God and it is in fact contrary to our nature if we are true followers of Christ. We confronted sin of all sorts last night: immodesty, lust, drunkenness, gossip, judgmental attitudes, lying, greed, hatred, unforgiveness and more I’m sure. My hope and prayer is that it all got dealt with and that we as both individuals and as a community of the children of God stopped hiding our sin and will begin and continue to be honest about sin when it happens and confess it. Our failure isn’t final, but it needs to be dealt with. 1 John 1:9 assures us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God show to us and acquit us of our hidden faults, for we cannot even discern our own error many times (Psalm 19:8). Help us look for the way out because You have promised that it is there. Help us to confess our failures when they occur and to repent from our sin. Be faithful God and cleanse us from everything that we confess to You. Help us to put the flesh to death so that the spirit may live.