If I could tell you how many times in my past I made my goal to “try not to sin.” I know I’m not alone. Let me give you an example. I’d read passages like Colossians 3:5-9 and almost make myself sick with sorrowful sorries.
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. You used to do them when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.” *
Yuk. I’d sit and recount all the things on the list above that I hadn’t adhered to and tearfully promise God I’d do better. It was as if the Lord were sitting there with a huge scowl on His face, disappointed in the beautiful daughter He had loved so perfectly, only to let Him down.
It’s taken me years to realize that living Christ’s way isn’t about “trying not to sin.” It’s about knowing and loving Jesus more. Because the more I concentrate on Him, the less I want to entertain thoughts and actions that He hates. The more I love Him, the more I realize how much He loves me, and He’ll be faithful to give me everything I need for life and godliness. **
I wonder why I would start on verse 5 of Colossians 3 when the verses preceding it would give me the proper perspective:
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.”
And why would I stop reading at verse 9 when I could read in the verses following that in place of the “evil nature and all its wicked deeds,” I have clothed myself with “a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed” as I “learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature”?
Maybe you are where I used to be, suffering with guilt from failure upon failure to keep all the rules of the Bible. The wild thing is that God wants us to be free from self-effort so badly that He will continue to let us fail until we get it. That’s not a cruel thing, it’s a loving thing. Yes, He’s holy and He absolutely hates sin. But HE is the One who died for our sins. HE is the One who conquered death when He rose to Heaven.
So doesn’t it make sense that, as we focus on knowing Him, we’ll worship Him and love Him? And as we grow to love Him more, we’ll want to surrender our lives fully to Him. How couldn’t we? He’s ALIVE in us through the Holy Spirit, and our lives are now hidden in Him!
I couldn’t help but pass this on…these thoughts hit my mind this morning and wouldn’t let go, so I’m letting you know. “The One who calls you is faithful, and HE will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24, NIV). Will you let Him?
*NLT translation unless otherwise noted
** As you seek the Lord, He may lead you to others for counsel regarding a habitual sin, stronghold or addiction. Sometimes He chooses to use others to help us in the process of healing.
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