Tuesday, January 21, 2014

For the Christian, True Repentance is Required

I know so many of us, although we claim to be believers and may have even grown spiritually since we have come to know the Lord...still hold onto our "sins of choice" by only half repenting.  Instead of seeing our sins (whether great or small or to whatever depths) as impure, heinous, sinful, and that which separates us from true intimacy with the God we claim to serve, we choose to cling to them at times we are stressed or need relief or want pleasure because we would enjoy it in the midst of hectic or unpleasant circumstances we may find ourselves in at the time.

We might turn to pornography, sleeping around, masturbation, drugs, alcohol, overeating or overspending as a source of comfort in the midst of difficulty.  Yet when this is so, it becomes a vicious cycle of engaging in that which we know displeases God, then feeling guilt, shame, or like we are unclean...then we beg God to deliver us from our strongholds because we can't take that they have once again become an addiction (and can't believe we were so blind as to fall into them again), and our faithful God opens our eyes to see the ways we are sinning and gives us a willing heart toward repentance...then within time, instead of keeping our guard up, monitoring our entertainment choices and what we think about, read, watch, or listen to...we compromise and take steps toward giving in again.  We see pleasure as a delight when it entices us once more, not realizing it really is a bitter poison that takes the very life from us in the form of bondage, self-hatred and disgust, and wanting to avoiding others due to our shame (to name just a few of the negative consequences sin brings).  We must run to God and beg Him to intervene and make the clear path out when we know we are going down the wrong path. 

Temptations can come to us in all different forms (and we all know our weaknesses and what will cause us to stumble), yet so often, we run to the sin we so desire instead of keeping our guard up, being careful with what we choose to watch, talk about, read, or places we go (or drive by often) and then wonder how we ended up falling again.  As Christians, we never stay the same.  We either take steps toward moving forward in godliness and spiritual growth or we compromise and allow our thoughts to run away with us and take steps toward our downfall.  We are either moving forward or falling back.  Every decision counts.  Every thought matters.  Every sinful desire unchecked could lead to acting upon it within a matter of time.

And something SO crucial and important to remember is that our sins (even done in the privacy of our homes or bedrooms) do not only affect us.  Eventually they can cause others to stumble or effect how we act around people and our influence over them.  Sin blinds us to the ways it is destroying the very fabric of our being, desensitizing us to the uncleanness of what we engage in, and takes away our hope, freedom, and joy.  It distorts how we see sex, how we view others, and makes twisted acts (such as sexual abuse or hardcore pornography) look not so bad over time.  The longer we give in, the more tempting our sins become, the more often we desire to engage in them, and the more willing we are to go to even greater depths to receive the pleasure we once got when these strongholds began.  Take anger for example.  Our anger tantrums and the fits we throw affect EVERYONE around and therefore cannot be justified with "I'm just cooling off" or because "You all are a bunch of idiots!  Don't you get it?"  Take doing drugs or drinking alcohol for example.  Oh, how such sins have destroyed relationships and ruined families!  Take an addiction to pornography for example.  You become so enthralled with this that it is on your mind more and more to the point that you do not even know how to relate to people in person anymore because your view of the opposite (or same) gender is so warped and everyone becomes a sex object to you.

Sin has the power to desensitize us to what is wrong, to distort our view of others so they become objects to use instead of people to care for and have relationships with, and sin blinds us in the midst of it to the very real consequences which may and very well could occur overtime.

Having been in bondage to a variety of sins throughout my life, I can testify to the truth that NOT being in bondage to sin is freeing!  I must keep my guard up though and not allow myself to take steps toward compromise or else I will fall into such habits and strongholds again, even for a time.

"Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ."  Wayne Grudem

And to quote God's word:

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  First Corinthians 10: 13

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.  Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  Galatians 5: 16-25

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.' "  First Peter 1: 14-16

First John chapters one through three

Psalm 119

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  Philippians 4: 8

Romans chapter six

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."  First Corinthians 6: 9-11

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."  Ephesians 5: 1-5


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