“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore” (Isaiah 59:2 NLT).
Most of us want to be connected to God. We want His peace in our lives and want Him to hear us when we pray. There are certain things that we do daily, however, that jeopardize our connection with God. One of these is judgement. Judgement of ourselves and of others. In judging ourselves and others we become a stumbling block. “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (Romans 14:13 NIV). Wouldn’t you like to be free of fear, shame, guilt, a rebellious spirit, and not be a stumbling block? It’s holding on to sin done against us, judgments done by us toward others, and judgments toward ourselves that causes us to be in bondage to these things. Judgments against God and others is what the Bible calls “sin.” When we choose to hold grievances against God, others and/or ourselves we are playing with sin. When we judge ourselves we sin against ourselves. When we judge others we sin against them. Passing judgement on one another is just one sin that cuts us off from God. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 ESV).
I was reading an article on two broad concepts of the Biblical definition of sin, I liked it so much that I am going to share it. The article was written by Scott Ashley, and I quote: “The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sin” throughout the Bible revolve largely around two major concepts. The first is that of transgression. To transgress means “to step across or to go beyond a set boundary or limit.” The concept can be compared to an athletic playing field with lines delineating the boundaries within which the game is played. When a player crosses over those boundary lines, he has committed a “transgression” and gone out of bounds. Limits are set to define the playing area, and the players are to stay within the limits of that area.
Most of the other words translated “sin” in the Bible involves a second concept, “to miss the mark.” Again, to use a sports analogy, if a player aims for the goal and misses, how many points does he get? None. He missed the goal, missed the mark at which he was aiming.”
The wide road or the narrow road, it’s your choice?
“You can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only few find it” (Matthew 7:13,14 NLT).
For me, to sin is missing the mark of what my true self is aiming for; my true self being my spirit. If I choose to live out of my fallen nature I will be committing adultery with the world. I would be going in the opposite direction that I really want to go. My true-self would want to choose the narrow road, my false-self the wide road. Who am I going to deny? (Luke 9:23,24). My true-self only wants to follow Jesus, but my false-self would rather follow any other god this world has to offer. Why choose the narrow road? Because it’s the road Jesus chose and it’s the road that leads to life. On the other hand, the wide road is the road Satan chose which leads to destruction and death.
Why fight sin?
So why is it so important to fight against sin? What damage can sin possibly create? Why can’t I play with or entertain it? Because sin is the main component that causes violence, divorces, and wars of all kinds. In short, sin causes betrayal and destruction, and in time the demise of all humanity. It’s a cancer that steals, kills, destroys, and divides. When I mention wars of all kinds I’m referring to external and internal wars. Yes, there are wars that go on within us all the time and are caused by sin. “But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23 NASB).
“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:2,3,4 NLT).
I counsel married couples every day that fight and quarrel against one another. I try and teach them that their bigger battles are the ones that are within themselves and if they don’t deal with them chances are they will cause the same division that’s brewing inside to divide and destroy their marriage. Your spouse my be a challenge but all relationships are. The bigger challenge is the real war between unresolved sin in your members; the battle within. When you are waging war against your spouse you’re really waging war against God. Sin always wars against God. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James4:1 NIV). The answer is to “submit” yourselves to God. I’m amazed at how many people when asked what they wish for, most answer, “peace on earth and good will to men.” But if you don’t have peace within, you will never have peace without. Seek first making peace with your enemies, yourself and with God and the peace that transcends all understanding will follow.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2a NIV).
Sin in your life is a sure sign that you are still worldly. When there is sin there is “ego.” Ego is connected to our sinful nature, and our sinful nature is connected to the world. Now that’s what I call a bad connection. Here’s what the Apostle Paul has to say about us playing with sin. “For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?” (1 Corinthians 3:3 NLT). The only way to freedom is through awareness, humility, and brokenness. We must humble ourselves to the point of confession, repentance and forgiveness. “The sacrifices you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:17 NLT). This will release you of sin, and connect you with your true-self and reunite you with God. This will free you to be and to live out the person God created you to be. Confess, and repent and God will pour out His mercy. “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them (repent), they will receive mercy” (Psalm 28:13 NLT). Parenthesis mine. It’s important you get this. Your true destiny is at stake. What a price to pay when you play with sin; you rip yourself off from the presence of God.
Sin has its own agenda
Sin delights in folly. It likes to take credit. It boast. It’s proud and arrogant. It likes instant gratification. It’s self-centered. It’s addicted to pleasure. It’s conditional. It demands to be right. It will never be transparent, and/or vulnerable. It will never let you in. It will manipulate and control you. It’s deceiving. It’s hypocritical. It’s an impostor. Because it’s deceiving and superficial, it will divide you. The path of accommodating sin leads to a lonely, fearful, painful, confusing and fruitless existence. It causes such symptoms as fear, anger, confusion, anxiety, and depression. And in some cases leads you into hopeless despair. It will always deceive you into believing in it. It’s cunning, stubborn and manipulative. It hardens a heart. It only knows how to pretend and perform. Who can understand the heart that plays with sin? “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). The Profit Jeremiah is speaking of an unregenerate heart. A heart formed by our sinful carnal nature.
Sin will dominate the ego
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).
When you allow your rebellious ego to dominate, you are pushing God off the throne of your life
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature (their ego) think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature (your ego) control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature (your ego) is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature (their ego) can never please God” (Romans 8:5,6,7,8 NLT). Parenthesis mine. The mind of the flesh is prideful, it is trusting self more than trusting God, and places itself on the throne. “Trusting God is wisdom, knowing God is peace, loving God is strength, faith in God is courage.” Unknown Quote
Ego’s natural enemy is “Humility.”
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C. S. Lewis
Doing life in your own strength is telling yourself that you don’t need God, pridefully thinking you can do better, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b NIV). Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit humility will be out of your reach. Ego’s natural enemy is “humility.” “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23 KJB). Without the Spirit’s indwelling you put yourself at risk of following yourself. By putting ego on the throne you lose your life as God intended, and lose your true destiny, but those who follow Christ reach their true destiny (Luke 9:24). The miseries arising from following self are endless.
“If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fall.” Winston Churchill
Way back in time, before man disobeyed God, man was connected and had perfect unity with God. There was a time when man had a solid connection with his creator. I believe Adam walked and talked with God in the garden every day before the fall; how amazing that must have been. Our identity was formed out of that relationship. We became one in spirit, harmony, peace and unity with our creator. Because of Adam’s connection with God his identity was in-tact, exactly how God created it to be, in His image and likeness. Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26a NIV). Here’s where the problem resides. God created us to have “free will.” He gave us a choice. If we chose to keep the identity formed out of God’s image we would of chose peace, harmony and unity with ourselves, humanity and with our creator. Wow! Sounds like heaven to me. But we know the story, don’t we? Man chose to do his own thing and in the process cut himself off from God. Not only was that a big price to pay for man, but even bigger for God. Because of His nature and His love for us He had to sacrifice His only begotten Son. The same Son (Jesus Christ) that created you and me chose to suffer humility, physical death, and momentarily the only time in all of history past, present, and future that He was separated from His Father. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” (Matthew 27:46 NASB). Now that’s a big price to pay. A price that could never ever be paid back.
Satan led man astray, now we lead ourselves astray
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9a NIV).
Satan tempted Adam and Eve’s free will/ego and they took the bait hook line and sinker. Satan lead them astray which qualifies Him as enemy number one. Our now fallen/disobedient, know-it-all ego is enemy number two. Our ego’s theme is; I can do all things; I am God; my will be done; I am solely self-sufficient, self-independent and self-reliant. “I AM IN CONTROL.” Sound’s like Satan’s claim to fame. Way too close to home for me.
We have many enemies to contend with
I have discovered that there are two enemies in particular that have succeeded to steal life from me. These two have kept me from the truth, and from reaching my true destiny and my potential. Their names are, “ignorance and limitations.” One of the main reasons I am where I am today is because I’ve been learning and studying more of God’s truth and applying it to my life. For me to move forward I must go beyond my limits. As long as God is calling me out, I will go. When He stops calling me, then I will stop. Not my will be done, but Yours be done. Age is not the issue. If I live to be 200 and are of a sound body and mind, and if God is still calling me, I will continue to move forward. My heart is more adventurous than ever. My body may be getting weaker but my spirit is stronger than ever.
Here are some other significant enemies to be aware of
Some of the other enemies are controlling fear, paralyzing shame, unfair guilt, unrighteous anger, roots of bitterness, envy, resentments, jealousies, and greed. Then there are attitudes, like being judgmental, condemning, deceiving, unforgiving, arrogant, haughty, stubborn, critical, demanding, entitled, controlling, manipulating, and so on. This is depressing I know. Isn’t it better to know your enemies than to trust them? Isn’t it better to stand firm against the false-self, and stop gratifying it? Being aware that we have an enemy within, called “ego” which created a false-self can be the beginning of healing. Awareness, not ignorance is the first step out of denial. To not gratify these desires we must walk by the Spirit and allow Him to lead, and guide us. Never again allow the false-self to lead your life. Be aware of the fact that you may be able to pacify the ego but never satisfy it. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16 NLT).
It’s not your belief that makes you a better person, it’s your behavior
I have this saying hanging in my office. “It’s all in your attitude not in your belief that counts.” Sure, your belief is of much value, but if you are not walking it out (words and deeds don’t match) it just makes you a hypocrite, no different than the religious leaders in Jesus day. The term hypocrite comes to us via the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play, pretense.” Such as “to play a part or a role.” The Bible teaches this in Matthew 6:2-5, and 16. I personally can identify the way Peter describes it. “So get rid of all evil behavior. be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech” (1 Peter 2:1 NLT).
I have drawn to conclusion that there are hypocrites among the Christian communities. I myself have to check my motives and my attitude every day, if not more often, to see where my thoughts are coming from (2 Corinthians 10:5). I have two choices to live life out of, “my ego or my spirit.” Living out of ego is living a hypocritical life. Jesus’ parable of the tares and wheat gives me awareness that their is indeed hypocrisy in the church of Christ. I would be naive to think otherwise. Please read it for yourself (Matthew 13:18-30). We must always be on guard that we do not fall into the same temptations. “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 9:12,13 NLT).
“The battle of prayer is against two things in the earthlies: wandering thoughts and lack of intimacy with God’s character as revealed in his word. Neither can be cured at once, but they can be cured by discipline.” Oswald Chambers
In conclusion: As a parent you would never give your child matches to play with. As children of God you can be assured that He would never give you sin to play with. On the contrary, He will do anything to protect you. “The Lord will protect you from all harm; he will protect your life” (Psalms 121:7 NET Bible). Parents would warn their children not to play with matches and discipline them if they disobeyed. “Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death” (Proverbs 19:18 NIV). Our Father in heaven warns us about playing with sin (Galatians 5:19,20,21). Children can be disobedient and rebel against their earthly parents and be tempted to play with matches. If they yield to the temptation and play with matches they will soon understand that their parents warnings against it were to protect them from serious harm. It is out of love and not control that parents try and keep their children away from danger. Our heavenly Father operates in the same manner. He warns us and disciplines us not out of ego or control, rather out of love. “For the LORD corrects (disciplines-reproves) those he loves, just as a father corrects in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12 NLT). Parenthesis mine.
“After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?” He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children” (Hebrews 12:4,5,6,7 NLT).
Whatever you do. Don’t play with sin. “No matter how dear you are to God, if pride (sin) is harbored in your spirit, he will whip it out of you. They that go up in their own estimation must come down again by His discipline.” Charles Spurgeon Parenthesis mine. “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible).