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3 Things I Learned About My Sin-Filled Life

Ever felt the urge to do something you knew was wrong in God’s eyes, but stopped because you mustered up the strength and courage to put off the earthly, ungodly desires of the heart? And then found yourself going ahead and committing the sin moments later, because the flesh was weak even though the spirit was willing?

Struggling with sin has become a real challenge for me. From lusting after material possessions to telling half-truths so that someone I disliked would get the reputation I felt he or she deserved, the propensity to sin hasn’t changed much since I came to know God.

Many times, when the urge to sin arose, I would try to flee both the deed and the thought. But time and time again, that initial response was not enough: inevitably, I could not hold fast to what I knew was the right thing to do, and went ahead and sinned anyway.

For a while, this made me doubt whether God was really present in my life. I was tired of singing about how much I loved Jesus in church on Sunday mornings, only to find myself in need of God’s forgiveness soon after. The cycle of acknowledging my wrongdoings and declaring my repentance to God became tiresome. Was there ever going to be a time when all these would end?

Are you facing a similar struggle? Let me share 3 tips I have learnt about my journey.

1. Acknowledge that my sinful nature is here to stay.
I have come to recognise and accept that all these reconciliatory moments with God will continue because of my sinful nature (Romans 3:23). However, every vulnerable moment spent before the Most High God is an opportunity to remember how undependable my own moral compass is. Because sin has placed me in a hopeless state, I need to go to a hope-filled God constantly—a God who conquered sin (1 Cor 15:57).

2. Never think I can conquer sin on my own.
Thinking that I could walk into a sin-filled environment or situation and be able to withdraw anytime I needed to simply because I knew Jesus has proved to be a deadly mistake. Even when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery with her, his response was to run away—literally. He didn’t even stay a moment to consider it. Even just entertaining sinful thoughts can place us in compromising situations. When in doubt, flee.

3. Never allow sin to dictate your worthiness before God—be persistent in repenting.
I believe that one of the devil’s main master plans is to wear us out with the guilt of past sins, and to trap us into believing that God has given up hearing us apologize for the wrongs that we continue to do. The more we focus on our guilt, the more time we lose to live upright lives for Jesus. Instead, let’s remember that the very same God whom we fear would reject us, has died for us so that we may have eternal life. God sees our struggles, knows our guilt, and gives Jesus to heal our brokenness. The Bible tells us of God’s response to our sin in Romans 8:34: “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.’

In my struggle with sin and repentance, I have learnt to keep running back to Jesus. Although I have been saved, it does not mean that God is done with me. I am very much still a work-in-progress where the pursuit of holiness is concerned. But I can keep striving towards living an upright life, knowing that Jesus walks with me on this journey.

ODB: Diamond Dust

December 27, 2015 

READ: Isaiah 1:18-20; Psalm 51:7 

Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

 

During a bitterly frigid winter in our part of Michigan, there were many mixed emotions about the weather. As the snowy winter season pressed on into March, most people had long before fallen out of love with snow and were bemoaning long-range forecasts of low temperatures.

Yet the majestic beauty of the snow continued to amaze me. Even as I threw endless shovelsful of it from my driveway onto the over-my-head snowbanks, I was enthralled with the white stuff. One particular day, ice crystals filtered down from the sky to fall atop old snow. As my wife and I took a walk through this sparkling scene, it looked as if diamond dust had been sprinkled across the landscape.

In Scripture, snow seems to have varied purposes. God sends it as an indicator of His creative greatness (Job 37:6; 38:22-23). Snow-capped mountains irrigate the arid valleys below. But more significantly, God gives snow as a picture of our forgiveness. The gospel of Jesus provides a way for us to be cleansed of our sins and for our hearts to be made much “whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7; Isa. 1:18).

The next time you see snow—in life or in photos—thank God for the forgiveness and the freedom from sin’s penalties that this beautiful, natural gift pictures for all who have put their trust in our Savior.

— Dave Branon

Thank You for forgiving us and for turning our filthiness into the beauty of forgiveness. Help us to display the beauty of our forgiveness to all we encounter.


When Christ forgives us, our hearts are as clean as new-fallen snow.  

ODJ: seduced by degrees

December 18, 2015 

READ: 1 Kings 9:1-9 

If you will follow me with integrity and godliness . . . I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever (vv.4-5).

It started out with my friend doing a little drinking with friends—hitting a bar after work. But then the heavier drinking began and poor decisions ensued as his abuse of alcohol escalated. His weak relationship with God became nonexistent. Today, my friend’s marriage is in shambles and his relationship with his kids is strained. It’s been hard to see him slip into the abyss by degrees.

Similarly, Solomon’s life spiraled down due to poor choices. He started out well, making a “wise” request after God asked him, “What do you want?” (1 Kings 3:9-10). But he was soon seduced by degrees into choices that weren’t pleasing to the Lord. Solomon’s slipping into the abyss didn’t come without warnings from God, however. In fact, the second recorded time God spoke with the king, He told him: “If you will follow me with integrity and godliness . . . , I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever” (9:4-5).

Solomon had enjoyed a strong, covenant relationship with God, but he was still required to live in a way that pleased his Creator. Obedience would bring blessing. Disobedience would bring disaster. Sadly, as he aged, the king allowed the seduction of the pagan culture to draw him away from worshiping the one true God (11:4). The holiness of the temple Solomon had built for the Lord wasn’t reflected within the king—in his “temple,” his body (1 Corinthians 6:19). And the results were devastating for him and his people (1 Kings 9:6-7).

The tales of Solomon and my friend provide sobering lessons. If we allow the world and its ways to replace our heart for God, we’ll die spiritually by degrees. Instead, may we renew our love for Him as a response to His own love for us.

—Tom Felten

365-day-plan: Hebrews 12:1-13

MORE
Read Psalm 89:24-37 and see what our holy, covenant-keeping God requires of us. 
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How are you being seduced by a sick culture these days? What can help you follow God in true love and obedience? 

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ODB: The Importance of How

December 15, 2015 

READ: Numbers 4:17-32 

Assign to each man his work and what he is to carry.
—Numbers 4:19

 

While attending Bible college, my friend Charlie and I worked for a furniture store. We often made deliveries accompanied by an interior decorator who talked with the people who had purchased the furniture while we brought it from the truck into the house. Sometimes we had to carry the furniture up several flights of stairs in an apartment building. Charlie and I often wished we had the decorator’s job instead of ours!

During Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, three clans from the priestly tribe of Levi—the Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merarites—were assigned the job of transporting the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). They put it up, took it down, and carried it to the next place, then repeated the process again and again. Their job description was simple: “Carry the things assigned to you” (see Num. 4:32).

I wonder if these “custodians” ever envied the “clergymen” who offered sacrifices and incense using the holy articles in the sanctuary (vv. 4-5,15). That job must have looked much easier and more prestigious. But both assignments were important and came from the Lord.

Many times we don’t get to select the work we do. But all of us can choose our attitude toward the tasks we’re given. How we do the job God gives us is the measure of our service to Him.

— David McCasland

Father in heaven, our work in life often causes us to wonder if we are accomplishing anything worthwhile. Give us eyes to see the importance of the tasks You have given us so that we may honor You by the way we do them.


Humble work becomes holy work when it’s done for God.