Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
Why is sin so much a part of our every day lives? As Christians our desire should be to remove sin from our lives, but even Paul struggled with this.
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:19-20).
Paul’s words are sometimes very complicated, but basically this statement means, “Even though I desire to do good things and I don’t want to sin, I do anyway…it’s my sin nature.” I know that I struggle to stop sinning, and I am sure you do, too. Why is it so difficult? What is the appeal of the forbidden that tempts us? It’s easy to say, “Oh, it’s just human nature.” But more than that—it is our sin nature.
Every person who has ever lived has faced their tendency to sin, and Christians are no exception. Sin first entered creation in the Garden of Eden.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Adam was created in the image of God, but he was given free will. Love isn’t love unless it is a choice, and God gave Adam a choice. When Eve listened to the voice of Satan she was deceived into eating the forbidden fruit, but Adam wasn’t deceived. Adam chose to disobey and eat the fruit that God had specifically told him not to eat.
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1Timothy 2:14).
After Adam sinned, he and Eve were expelled from the garden, had children and sin flourished. Instead of worshipping the one true God, mankind lusted after false gods and became so corrupt in their flesh that God had to destroy mankind as well as the animals. Oh, there were a few who had not joined in the debauchery of the day, and God saved them…Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. Sadly, after the waters abated and this handful of people began to repopulate the earth, the sin nature was still there. It seems as if we just can’t stop sinning.
Even the apostle Paul admitted that he couldn’t keep himself from sinning:
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:15,
This is more of Paul’s complicated words but basically he said that he didn’t want to sin, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t prevent the sin in his life. Paul is not making excuses for his sins, but stating facts. God knew it wasn’t Paul who was sinning, but the sin nature that dwells within him.
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a).
Paul was full of remorse over his sins. Because Jesus had rescued Him from sin God no longer condemned him. Those who live according to the sin nature have their minds set on sinning and feel no remorse when they do. We who live according to the Spirit have our minds set on pleasing God and feel great remorse when we sin. It’s a sign that we’re saved. But in the midst of that remorse Christians need to remember that God sees us not as we are but as we will be when we’re perfected.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
He can do this because Jesus died for all the sins of our lives past, present, and future. When we sin, all we have to do is confess and we’re immediately forgiven and purified from all unrighteousness:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Christians can take much comfort in those words.
Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a license to sin. God does take sin seriously, and Christians need to prayerfully ask God to help us remove sin from our lives. If you’ve confessed your sin then you’ve been forgiven and purified, for God is just and faithful. Now you need to ask God to help you to rid your life from sin. The guilt you feel is from Satan and you must turn your energies toward resisting him.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8).
Satan is trying to convince you that you aren’t worthy to receive God’s forgiveness, but God has clearly stated that you are. He died on a cross to purchase your redemption. Draw nigh to God and He will help you overcome sin. Paul, who recognized the sin in his life was convinced that nothing could separate him – or us – from the love of God:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Though our sin nature is a stumbling block for us, nothing can separate Christians from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, and that includes Satan. It also includes you. Stop thinking about how bad you are and start thinking about how good God is.
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
If we keep our minds turned toward Jesus with praise, supplication, and thanksgiving, there will be little time to dwell on our failures. You will have…“the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”
Our Christian walk needs to lead us closer to Jesus. Whatever we think, say, or do, needs to change from the way of the world, which promotes our sin nature, to godly ways.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).
There are many activities and hobbies that draw us into the world and into sin. The entertainment industry is Satan’s tool to make sin look appealing. We can choose to turn off our TV or leave it on and watch sin be glorified. We can choose to listen to music that glorifies sin, or we can listen to music that glorifies God. When we choose to watch and listen to worldly things that seem to make sin acceptable, our sin nature is encouraged.
Instead of watching a television show filled with sinful lifestyles, why not spend that time reading God’s Word and let it teach you His truth. Instead of listening to music that is filled with lyrics that should make you blush, turn on some Gospel music and fill your mind with singing praises to God. You have a choice. Christians need to choose to obey God. Our joy should be in pleasing Him.
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
The word “conversation” means more than talking with others. It comes from the Greek word “anastrophē” which means: manner of life, conduct, behavior, deportment. But how do we make this change in our choices? Notice that Peter said, “obedient children.” We need to know what God expects and then we need to choose to obey Him. That means prayerfully studying His Word.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).
Do you spend Friday night out with the boys at the local bar instead of at home with your wife and family? Do temptations present themselves to you that your flesh is too weak to resist? You have a choice. You need to consciously choose to deny your flesh and follow Christ. If you choose to be home with your family the temptations of the flesh will not be there. Whatever pleasure you think you get from sin is not pleasure at all. It feeds your sin nature and leads you away from Christ.
In the early days of Christianity the Ekklesia spent much time together. They ate together, shared what they had and encouraged each other in the faith.
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a).
If Christians today would be obedient to God’s Word and spend more time with each other rather than with worldly people, maybe it would be easier to take up our cross and follow Jesus rather than give in to our sin nature. Do you think that if we were closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ we would encourage each other to obey Christ? I do. Since I accepted Christ into my life I have found that I truly enjoy fellowship with other Christians.
Shortly after I accepted Christ, some old high school buddies invited my family and me to camp with them and “have some fun.” We went and I found that their coarse language and drinking were very distasteful to me. I did not enjoy that weekend at all. I could have joined in their “fun” and at one time in my life I would have found this normal, but Christ had changed me. My sin nature was being overcome by my love for Jesus…and His love for me. Until we are called “Home” and shed this earthly vessel we live in, we will have to choose between our sin nature and our desire to serve Jesus. Choosing Jesus is always the better choice.
God’s Word tells us that there was a specific event that created all things, and a specific event, which caused sin and death to enter creation. Some Christians try to make God’s word fit into man’s fable of evolution, but by doing that God’s truth is compromised. If life started millions (or billions) of years ago, then when did sin enter? If there was no specific starting point for sin, then why did Christ have to die on the cross to purchase our redemption?
The truth is that it all happened just as God said it did. Adam was created and given a choice to obey God or to disobey. He chose to disobey and sin and death became a reality. Because of Adam’s sin we have a sin nature. We still have a choice whether to give in to our flesh or to obey God. My regrets come when I choose to sin. How about you?
God bless you all,