SIN, TEMPATATION and THE WAY OF ESCAPE
Just how convenient can we make denying ourselves of sin and bearing our cross?
The ONLY convenient method by which we can deny ourselves of sin is when the force of it feels so strong...so overpowering...that we throw ourselves upon the painful realization that denial is the only way out.
Living so closely clung to your cross is the only Biblical way to "live your best life now".
What sent Christ to His cross (your sin)...must also send us to ours...whether we feel like it or not. If you wait to deny yourself of sin until "you feel like it"...I venture to say, you will never deny yourself of sin and you will live in a perpetual state of spiritual defeat and frustration. "Taking up your cross" denotes PAIN. If you want to be a disciple...get used to it.
STOP buying into the self-inflicted lie that the only way out of temptation... is falling into sin's alluring demands. Yes, the flesh is weak...but the Spirit is strong, willing and capable to give you what it takes to endure the pain of cross bearing. Don't tap into your weak side by saying "the flesh is weak" and hereby fall into sin. Tap into the strong part of your spiritual constitution by realizing the Spirit is stronger...and hereby conquer sin.
The only way to squelch the overbearing temptation and grueling demands of sin is to deny yourself of its implicating advances. But so often, we unwittingly give into it, thinking this is the method by which we can make it go away. Can an alcoholic make his desire for drink go away by drinking all the more? No! He can only micro-manage the vehicle by which the sin is offered. Such a one only feeds the monster and throws fuel on the fire, making his last state worse than the last. We are all "addicts" where sin is concerned. We all have withdrawal symptoms where our besetting sins are concerned. When the temptation to sin arises, know this: It is just a withdrawal symptom that is demanding its rights like a stomping, crying, spoiled brat. Sin is a self-entitled God-anarchist that MUST be denied! Giving into it only makes the enticement go away...but it will come back and with each time, it will come back stronger and stronger. Temptation temporarily flees when sin is committed. This
gives you the illusion that it's the cure to a weary, war-torn soul. But when you sow to the ground of sin committed, temptation soon returns with a frightfully, overbearing vengeance that places demands much worse than before. Giving into sin will only make the temptation go away for a season. But it will NEVER make the consequences of sin committed go away.
Never feel guilty for being tempted.
Don't allow the devil to make you feel filthy in the midst of him taking advantage of your sinful flesh. Many a people have fallen into sin because of the guilt that arises from being tempted. It's not a sin to be tempted...it's a sin to willingly walk into what temptation is nudging you toward. One shouldn't feel guilty for temptation. Temptation for the child of God is merely the light shining on what Christ wishes us to deny ourselves of. We MUST see temptation this way. Otherwise Satan will take advantage of us by placing displaced shame and guilt upon an already weary mind. Temptation can also be seen as a communicative blessing that the Lord cares for us. Have you ever noticed how an unregenerated person is never tempted to sin? Why is this? Because such a one has no reason to deny himself of ANY sin. He is devoid of God's light and like a second nature, he freely, without opposition, contrast or temptation, gives into sin's impulses. He hasn't the light from God that what he is
partaking of is wrong. He sees something his flesh wants and he instantly, without further thought, indulges in it. A person such as this is a single natured person (sin nature). But we as Christians have a different way of life. We have a dual nature. A Divine and Holy nature has been added to our already existing sinful nature. We have been made partakers of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The fact that we have two natures battling for preeminence is why there is such a tumultuous war going on within. This is why sin now comes to you in the form of temptation...NOT second nature. See how merciful the Lord is? The heat of temptation is the Lord's light and mercy. For if it weren't for the demanding intensity of the contradictory contrasts and nature of the Christian life, how would we know right from wrong? When temptation comes upon us, we INSTANTLY know what is right and what is wrong. What we do with that information is up to us.
The dichotomy of the self-opposing contradictory nature of the Christian life is God's method by which he communicates what is good and what is evil, what is permitted and what is unpermitted. See how God makes even the thorns and thistles of sin's curse a blessing for the Child of God!
Now that you understand the inner war that wages within...the battle between the dual nature of a believer: Please: Don't feed into the lie that giving in is the only remedy by which we can make the soul-scorching demands of temptation go away. DENIAL and SELF-CRUCIFIXION are the ONLY way out. Denying yourself of sin in the thick of grueling temptation will make not only the temptation go away...but it will thwart and overthrow the consequences by which the temptation is enticing you toward. Temptation is there to make you suffer the consequences of sin (bait on a hook). How can giving into this make ANYTHING better? Satan is a master illusionist and most of us feed right into it.
Just to make the temptation go away, sometimes we give into its demands. Then, we are left in a state of self-defeat that makes our current condition far worse than our first. "For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the filthy things of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they again get entangled in them and succumb to them, their last state has become worse for them than their first". 2 Peter 2:21-22
Once you return to what temptation is trying to persuade you to...you then realize----------your previous position of "tempted" was far better than your current position of "willful-sinner". At least under temptation you still have that inner peace of Christ. But once you give in and indulge...that peace and intimacy all but flees--------then, you're left in a state of self-condemnation and defeat. Your conscience is wounded...scar tissue grows upon the tender receptors of your soul...and you become hardened unto the things of God. Is this not your experience? THIS is how and why (in the context of temptation and sin) your last state becomes worse than your first.
When the object of temptation is accomplished (us giving in) and our conscience is left battered, wounded and bruised; we find that our present condition is far worse than it was before giving into sins impulses. We concur, through our defiled conscience, that the Law of God is good, and we were better off in the intensity of temptation than we are giving into to it. And after giving in, we now contend with a defiled conscience that has broken fellowship with Christ. In the midst of the temptation we still had intimate fellowship. But after giving in, intimacy has been severely damaged. In retrospect, the Child of God now knows, that he has traded intimacy with Christ for a sin that has left him feeling empty, guilty and shameful.
REMEMBER: Standing your ground in the midst of grueling temptation while still having access to the peace and intimacy of the Spirit is FAR better than sin's appetite being gratified while robbing you of ALL peace and intimacy with Christ.
When we deny ourselves of sin, we gain the Lord and oust Satan. When we give into sin we deny ourselves intimacy with the Spirit while gaining Satan and ousting Christ.
The progressive gaining of Christ through denial of sin, isn't a one time event. This is a DAILY event that must permeate who we are as Christians. We must DAILY take up our cross, minute by minute, second by second. Expect pain...expect scars. When you are living in such a state that it feels like there are blisters on your soul...welcome to the authentic side of what it is to be a Christian. Better to be scarred by denying yourself of sin than to be scarred from giving into it.
The cross symbolizes an instrument of pain that leads to unsearchable riches in glory.
One who has never tasted the cross can never anticipate the glory that follows.
If you are still in love with a besetting sin; if you are still on the side-lines flirting with the notion, idea or "possibility" of being free from it, be warned: EVERY time you are tempted to indulge in this particular sin...you WILL fall prey to it.
You mustn't tip toe around the tulips with God. You mustn't tinker around with the mere thought of "going all in for God". If you continue to do this, don't act surprised or play the victim when you fall (walk) headlong into the very thing you have merely toyed around with letting go. The things we "toy around with" will end up "toying around with us" if we keep toying and tinkering around with them.
There is no such thing as a part time disciple. Make up your mind in regard to that "one thing". Reading these words you know exactly what that is.
You know; that leftover sin from before you met the Lord-----that little besetting sin that you've tucked away for a rainy day and are pretending that God doesn't notice----THAT ONE. Get rid of it now.
I know, these are strong words....but time is short...we no longer have the luxury of time to be tinkering around with besetting sins. May we all surrender to Him that ONE THING... that nailed Him to the cross. IT...that "rainy day sin" that cost Him his life that you still have not put to death...kill it.
It killed Him...it cost Him His life. And it will cost us no less than what it cost Him. Die to yourself. Go through the pain and agony of bearing your cross. This is the pathway to authenticity and genuineness in Christ. No more flirting with the idea of dying to the things that caused Him to die. This world is FILLED to overflowing with nominal-Christian in name only church-goers. That is the status-quo in the midst of this apostasy. REFUSE TO BE THE STATUS-QUO. Accept NOTHING less than true, Spirit-Born authenticity---------ANYBODY can be fake--------ANYBODY can be a phony, fraudulent church-goer-------ANYONE can go back to their sins--------BUT ONLY THOSE WHO WALK AFTER THE SPIRIT AND BEAR THEIR CROSS CAN BE THE REAL DEAL.
Be authentic. Be a disciple. Embrace your cross. Kill sin.
Welcome to the battle.
"Be killing sin...or it'll be killing you". -John Owen-
"Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh". Galatians 5:16
Walking after the Spirit is best experienced and profoundly realized when you have no inner longing to EVER return to any particular sin...EVER. Make up your mind, that THAT particular sin is NO LONGER AN OPTION. If it's left to be an option to be taken, be assured of this: that option WILL TAKE YOU...and it will run you ragged to the very end of your life-----to the point and place where you no longer have any options, except to take whatever option it is that Christ gives you at the Judgment Seat.
If that "one sin" is still an option...still a backdoor...still a feasible possibility for you to return to: it WILL return over and over and OVER AGAIN until you say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH or until you physically die and are left without a body to use as an instrument of sin. Then it's all over my friend: the way you are when you die is the EXACT state in which you will be judged. Does that make you feel comfortable? Are you okay with that?
Here is a diagnostic question to diagnose your current standing before the Lord: Does the idea of Him returning right NOW... with you exactly how you are RIGHT NOW... cause you to mentally shrink back in shame...or does it cause you great peace and joy? 1 John 2:28
Go ALL IN and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
If you are expecting "the way of escape" that God provides (1 Cor 10:13) to be a painless one that costs you nothing...you will never utilize the way of escape He has already provided. Escaping sin doesn't come fully furnished with an angel chorus and a light from heaven...it comes with a cross. If you're expecting God's "way of escape" to make your experience of denying yourself of sin feel as if you' aren't denying yourself of anything at all...you are refusing to bear your cross. If you are waiting to deny yourself of sin until "bearing your cross" doesn't feel like you're bearing ANYTHING AT ALL...you are under the illusion that following Christ is a life filled with denying yourself of things that cost you NOTHING. If you refuse to deny yourself of sin until a miraculous visit from heaven comes, (making the denial of sin feel like you're aren't denying yourself of ANYTHING AT ALL)...you are denying yourself of the God-given power to deny yourself of sin.
Don't allow yourself to be manipulated by the false expectation that one day you will become SO spiritual that bearing your cross will feel like you're bearing no cross at all. When you have this attitude you are saying: "Jesus, following you isn't worth giving up the sins that nailed you to the cross....so I'm just gonna wait until it feels like I'm giving up NOTHING...then I'll follow you".
"Anyone who loves their life (refuses to deny themselves of sin) will lose it, while anyone who hates their life (detaches themselves from sin) in this world will keep it for eternal life". John 12:25
"And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple". Luke 14:27
TODAY...right NOW...is a good indication of how spiritual you will be tomorrow. What you're willing to give up in order to follow Christ...this very second...is a good indication as to what you will be willing to give up tomorrow. Tomorrow is NOW...following Christ is NOW.
Conformation to the image of Christ is initiated through the pain and agony of cross bearing. Conformation to the image and likeness of Christ stands just beyond the threshold of denying yourself of "that" sin...how badly do you want to be conformed unto His likeness? Is your craving for conformation stronger than your craving for sin? How badly you want Christ is measured by how thoroughly you deny yourself of sin.
The way of escape that God provides is grueling abstinence that leads to the apprehension of glory. There are no shortcuts...there are no exceptions. We will have all of eternity to experience the glory and reward in which our denial of sin has garnered. But for now...it's gruel before glory.
Denial of sin=Conformation unto the image of Christ.
Where the flesh and sin is concerned, the prospect of conformation NEVER comes at a convenient time. But where the Judgment Seat of Christ is concerned, sin committed NEVER comes at a convenient time either. We must view our lives through the lens of the Judgment Seat...lest we lose perspective.
Where the flesh, sin and authentic Christianity is concerned, the inconvenience of conformation is the ONLY way you can live your best life now. If you wish to live your best life THEN...just beyond the Judgment Seat...THIS is the ONLY pathway that makes itself available to you. There are just simply NO shortcuts. When you self-apply shortcuts that don't even exist...you cut yourself short of the magnitude and glory in which Christ wishes to one day reveal in you.
DENIAL OF SIN is the God-ordained way to live your best life now. The only way to guarantee your best life THEN is to live your best life NOW.
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me". Luke 9:23