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Archive for February 7th, 2019

Learning is a life-long process, with non-stop homework, assignments, societal grading of our effort, as well as self assessments.

A couple of weeks ago I published a post called Naked and Exposed, where I wrote about my struggle with the sin of gluttony.

A lifetime of struggling with this sin has taught me many things that transfer (I think) to any sin (and we all sin).

Here is what I learned about sin, through my struggle with my own:

  • the harder you try to fight it, the more obstacles are in your way of success (think of Satan tempting Jesus in the dessert, oops desert … when Jesus was hungry, he tempted him with bread)

Doesn’t that always happen?! We get it in our minds that we are going to try harder, and as soon as that iron is in our souls, something tempting is right in front of us. It is as though, right out of the gate the cosmos is setting us up for failure … of course we know, it is not the cosmos, but Satan … the same one who tempted Jesus, in the desert.

  • bad advise always comes from people who are not going through what you are going through (though his problems were not caused by his sin), Job, after losing everything, ‘advised’ by his friends at the gate, asking him what he did to deserve the struggle he was in the midst of).

How many times have I heard (perhaps in not so many words) ‘just don’t eat so much’ as advise to lose weight. If it were that easy to curb the sin of gluttony, duct tape across the mouth would do it! Gluttony is not simply about eating, there are the functions of the brain and of the emotions that also need to be addressed … as is often the case with the sins we are inclined to keep doing.

  • bad choices can lead to opportunities to sin more easily (think of King David, when he should have been with his soldiers on the field, he was at home in the palace when he sees Bathsheba bathing).

When we know what sins we are most tempted to commit, we also need to know what times, places and situations put us the most at risk of committing them. If I am down, or stressed I am more apt to sin. If I am too busy, I am more apt to sin. If I have not made time for creativity, I am more apt to sin. If I allow my schedule to be too full of people, with little alone time, I am apt to sin.

  • when you are tempted to sin, turn to the Bible, not away from it. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, his every response was with scripture, in the form of “it is written”.

So, how do we finish strong, as spoken of in Hebrews 12:1-3?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

A number of years ago I heard Mark Spurlock speak on finishing strong. He provided three encouragements for how to accomplish this goal:

  1. embrace the race – not our speed, but the quality of our run … perseverance!
  2. refocus often – eyes on the prize, the finish line
  3. run in groups – “let us” … be in the habit of being with other believers

Whatever it is, sin is hard to overcome. It takes a lifetime of living and learning, progressing (and regressing). We are not perfect beings, but that doesn’t stop our pursuit of excellence.

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