Sunday, May 1, 2016

Something you might not want, but probably need...

Welcome friends...well the title to this post is a bit longer than normal, but I typed in "A Study on Sin" and thought, "Nobody is going to open that!" The other night our local Titus24U group met and worked through this study...as I walked out the door to lead it my daughter asked, "What are you working on tonight?" I responded, "Sin" and she sarcastically said, "Oh, that will be fun."

I stepped out and did a quick little blog to intro this lesson with some interruptions from my little people, so please excuse that and I'm praying about appearing a bit more excited/happy as I do this next time. And I'd also like to use it as an encouragement to you...awhile back this alone could have caused me to sin - it could have made me angry with my kids or messed with my thoughts as the perfectionist in me would have tried to get it right over and over. Anyway friends, God's Word will not return void, so I trust He will use your time in it!!


Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to You now and approach Your throne with confidence. We are grateful for Your grace and sorry for our sin. As we study Your Word, help us understand this better, soften our hearts and give us the desire to live more like Your sinless Son. We come to You now prepared to learn...may we be clay in Your hands...melt us, mold us, change us. In Jesus' Name we pray...Amen

What is sin?

 

There are two common biblical definitions for sin – 1) transgression – to step across, go beyond the boundary or out of bounds. 2) to miss the mark or stray off course. God is the one who sets the boundary and gives us the goal to strive for – holiness. Another way to look at sin is: anything contrary to the will of God and anything that doesn’t express the holy character of God.

Let me ask you another question, “Do you sin?” Romans 3:23 - “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” gives me the answer. Though we hate to admit it, this is one thing we do all have in common...we were born sinners and will struggle with it the rest of our lives.

 

Remember sin is sin…we as people label it and sometimes categorize is, but in God’s eyes it’s all the same. It doesn’t matter if your sin is "big" or "small", the world sees it or nobody knows…God is aware. Take a few minutes to reflect on your day or the past week, what sins have you struggled with? Make a note of them and we’ll come back to them as the study continues.

 

Let’s take a minute and look at what God’s Word says about sin. Read Romans 5:15-21 and Romans 7:7-25. Also note Psalm 51:4-5. What do these words say to you?

 

We also see God’s definition of sin in His Word…read 1 John 3:4 and James 4:17. Here we learn sin is not only doing the wrong thing, but it’s also not doing the right thing.

Do you struggle with one of these more than the other? Why? How?

 

Friend, if we want to overcome and move past sin, we must know what it is and it’s also powerful to remember where it begins. Read the following verses and see if you can find two areas Scripture shows us sin gets it start. Matthew 12:33-39, Mark 7:21-23, Proverbs 23:7, Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 2:3

 

Now that we have an understanding of sin and realize it begins in the heart, mind and flesh perhaps there is another big question we need to ask: “How can we overcome the sin we struggle with?”

 

I have to admit that has been the question on my heart lately. I know I’m a sinner, I know I fall short, but I long to change this and wonder how to go about doing just that. I have taken this struggle to God and believe He’s given me insight I will be using for the rest of my life. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus challenges us to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect”, but in 1 John 1:8 we learn that saying we have no sin is simple self-deception. As I linked these two verses together I realized God doesn’t expect us to be sinless, but He does desire us to sin less. There is freedom in that thought…I, and you, can let go of the pressure to be perfect, but there is also conviction as I reflect on my actions…especially some of the sins I tend to repeat. My eyes have been opened to this, now I need to move past it. Remember the sins you jotted down earlier? Do you feel the same? If so, let’s continue.

As we’ve already determined sin is a big, broad topic and something we will struggle with until heaven. We must continually chip away at it and get rid of everything that doesn’t look like God. This won’t happen overnight, but instead is a process we must continually practice.

It begins with abiding. What does it mean to abide?

 

If we look at original language the word means to sit, remain and continue. So what does that have to do with overcoming sin? Well let’s look at where and with whom we are to abide…what does John 15:5 tell us?

 

Moving past sin starts with staying connected to Jesus the One who was without sin. Abiding with Him, gives us an example of who God wants us to be like and staying with Him encourages us to be sinless as well. Time with Jesus, our Lord and Savior, will also teach us to resist temptation. We find specific instructions in Luke 4:1-13. What key lessons can we learn from Jesus as we strive to overcome sin?

 

We also must abide in God’s Word. Think for minute about your spiritual diet. How often do you eat from God’s Word? When you do is it a fast meal or an opportunity to enjoy your food? Sometimes we have a spiritual eating disorder…we can experience spiritual anorexia, where we simply stop eating, and there may also be moments of spiritual bulimia where we take in truths from the scripture only to quickly remove them from our heart and mind. Have you ever struggled with this? Do you have a balanced diet?

Friend, it’s not enough to read a chapter or short devotional in the morning, we must do what Joshua was instructed to do in Joshua 1:7-8. What was he told to do?

 

In order to stop sinning, we need to know what sin is…God’s Word is where we will discover it’s definition. We must remember the truth about God’s Word, read the following verses -  Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalms 19:7-10, Romans 7:7-13 What do they tell us about the Holy Scriptures in relationship to our sin?

                                                                                                                                           

Abiding in God’s Word will open our eyes to sin and give us tools to help overcome it!

 

Once we see our sin, there are still other things we need to do! The Bible has much to say about this as well. I’m beginning to think overcoming sin has similarities to completing a puzzle. There are a lot of pieces to the process…each piece of a puzzle is important, but we don’t always do them in the same order and some take longer than others. As you work through these steps remember the order is not important, but the process is. God will show you what to do and when you are not sure, try the next piece of the puzzle - prayer.

Friend, prayer is simply sharing our heart with God. This is something He created you and me to do…He knows our hearts, but He longs to be in relationship with us. That happens when we communicate. So first of all a few truths about prayer…read the following verses and make note of what you learn. Matthew 7:7-11, 26:41 and 1 John 5:14-15

 

Prayer is a vital ingredient when it comes to overcoming sin and when we pray one thing we must ask for is a filling of the Holy Spirit. John 14:16 assures us the Holy Spirit, also known as our helper, indwells us at salvation (as was predicted in Joel 2:29), but as we read in Ephesians 5:18 we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, which comes with submission to Him. The indwelling can’t be changed, but the filling of the Spirit is not always the same. We are full of the Spirit when we are controlled by it, which is an ongoing experience. The Holy Spirit will teach us (John 14:26) and convict us of sin (John 16:7-11) We should commit to doing our best not to quench Him (1 Thes. 5:19) or grieve Him(Eph. 4:30). I encourage you to pray the prayer below as you continue on this journey to overcome the sin that entangles you.

Father God,
You are holy and I am not. You’ve opened my eyes to sin in my heart. I ask you, God, to have mercy on me, a sinner. I fall short of Your glory…with my thoughts, words and actions, please forgive me. May I always remember my sin is against You and You alone.
Thank you for examining my heart and showing me my sin. Now that I’m aware, help me repent and turn from it. I don’t want to be a slave to sin Lord, but my choices and behavior sometimes contradict that desire. Because of Jesus, I should count myself dead to sin, but sometimes my flesh wins and I obey it’s evil desires. I want to do what is good, but I don’t always do it.
Help me Father – I can’t do this on my own. Keep me from willful sins, don’t let them rule over me. Fill me with Your Spirit and tender my heart to be sensitive to it. Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

Jehovah Nissi, I know this battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities of darkness. Satan is roaring like a lion looking for one to devour, don't let me forget that. And remind me to put on Your armor and pick up the Sword of the Spirit. And Father, thank you for the victory You have already won...help me walk in that.
Lord, help me let go of the unrealistic goal of being sinless, but please help me sin less. In the moment of temptation, remind me of your promise – You always provide a way out. Help me be humble and wise enough to take it.
God, I love you and long to bring You glory…continue making me holy and help me see sin like You do. Thank You for Your forgiveness – help me receive it and be changed by it. El Roi, You see me and You died for me while I was still a sinner…may I always remember the price You paid. Help me be willing to die to self so I can live for You.

Father, I know You are able to do more than I can ask or even imagine, so I pray You will do that in the days, hours and moments to come. I can do all things through You who strengthens me. Your grace is sufficient…may it be strong when I am weak.

In Jesus’ precious and powerful name, I pray…AMEN

God will use prayer in powerful ways…it softens our hearts, connects us to Him and opens our eyes. Once we are aware of our sin – we must confess. This means we acknowledge our sin before God and the one(s) we have wronged. James 5:16, 1 John 1:19, Prov. 28:13 and Psalm 32:5 all speak to this. What do we learn about confession from these verses?

 

Turn to Leviticus 5:5, what do you read here? What insight does it give you into confession?

 

Is there a specific sin you need to confess right now? Take some time and write a prayer of confession and ask for forgiveness.

 

Confession isn’t easy and it’s never fun, but it’s what we are commanded to do. This quote from an unknown source sums it up quite well, “If we cover our sin, God will expose it. If we expose our sin, God will cover it.”

 

Recognizing our sin and admitting we are sorry are important, but don’t stop there. The Bible has much to say about repentance. In your words, what does it mean to repent?

 

I found a few different definitions – to turn from evil and return to God, have a change of mind or to experience regret and remorse. The book of Ezekiel proves God’s desire for us is repentance. Read Ezekiel 14:6, 18:30 and 33:11. What do you learn about repenting here? What is? Who thinks it is important?

 

Jeremiah 26:1-6 also addresses repentance. Again, God is commanding the people to turn from their sin. What does He say will happen if they don’t? How does this encourage you to be one who repents?


 

Finally, if we truly want to overcome sin we must remember we cannot do it alone. God’s Word tells us there is power in numbers – Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs, later missionaries went in groups of 2 or 3 and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us two are better than one. Friends, we need sisters in Christ for fellowship and accountability. What do we learn about gathering with other believers from these verses? Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 10:24-26 and James 5:16

 





I want to close with some verses I pray will encourage you as you press on. Read the verses and think about each one and how it connects to our sin and God’s ability to help us overcome. Psalm 37:3-5, Proverbs 26:11, Matthew 5:17, Romans 8:29, 1 Corinthians 15:56-58, 2 Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 1:6, 2:13, 4:14 and Hebrews 13:20-21


Thank you for joining me...again I encourage any feedback and would love to hear what God has been teaching you!! Feel free to leave a comment or email me at jillberan@yahoo.com. Blessings to you!

1 comment:

  1. So much great scripture here, Jill. And challenging questions and opportunities to dig deeper. Sin is such a hard topic; I love how you gave us practical tips on how to battle sin in our lives. We can't do it without abiding!!

    Blessings,

    Wendy

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