"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." - Deuteronomy 6.5
Well how about it? Do you? Do you love God with all your heart, soul, and strength? Do you want to? Me too. But how? How do we do that?
Those commandments are summed up nicely in the above verse from Deuteronomy, and to elaborate a bit "keeping his commandments" basically means to avoid sin, right? And wouldn't that include sins of commission (sin caused by something I did) as well as sins of omission (sin caused by my failure to do something)?
Well what about it? Sin that is. Do you avoid it? Do you hate it? Do you want to hate it? Me too. But how? How do we do that?
Our beloved Pastor Paige, as my little girls call him, has been preaching about burying sin. A lot of what he has been saying has reminded me of a sermon or two by John MacArthur in which he talks about killing sin. He then further offered some practical ideas or methods to kill sin. Now we're talking. Dead and buried. Sounds good, right? Let's take a look at his practical advice.
- Lust. Stop it. Stop lusting. Stop entertaining your lusts. No need to wait around for heavenly power to stop. God has already given His Spirit & His Word where He told us what to do. 1 Peter 2.11 says,
"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul."
1 Corinthians 6.18 tells us the following:
"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."
- Starve it out. If the temptation is not around, you won't give in to it. Romans 14.13 says,
"Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother."
We are not to tempt a brother. And ourselves? We should probably avoid tempting ourselves too, right? Maybe it's a good idea to stay out of places and/or situations that tempt you. I recall an example of MacArthur's where he referred to his love for potato chips. His doc told him that he should lay off of them. He talked about how great it was when he would go to the cupboard, and "they weren't there." Why? If they were around he said, "I would eat them." Makes sense, doesn't it? It's a whole lot easier to avoid the sin if we avoid the temptation that leads to it.
- Put on The Lord Jesus Christ. Pursue being like Christ. We become what we worship. Read His Word. Know how He handles situations. He is our model.
- Psalm 119.11 says,
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
Treasure God's Word. In Joshua 1.8 we find,
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
We are sanctified by Truth, and God's Word is Truth. Word-centered = Christ-centered = killing sin by the Sword of the Spirit.
- Prayer. Be devoted to prayer. "Lead us not into temptation."
- Self-control... in all things. Remember Paul? He talked about buffeting his body, and about training... like an athlete. They had a regimen and a winning strategy that was oftentimes very strict. Diet. Sleep. And the actual training. Let's just go to the Source. Let the Word speak for Itself. 1 Corinthians 9.24-27 says,
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
There is a rhyme & reason. It's not just suffering to suffer. There is a goal, a finish line, as well as a purpose to all of it.
Need some warnings? How about Luke 21.34? Jesus says,
"But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap."
Philippians 2.12-13 tells us,
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
- Be humble.
"Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" - 1 Peter 5.5
Maybe elders are there for a reason. We should listen when they speak.
I'd like to leave you with a passage from Mathew 15 that I'm quite fond of for some reason. Do you remember the Canaanite woman who was so persistent to seek Jesus' help? Let's look at verses 22-28 from that chapter.
And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Praise God that we are "dogs" and may we indeed be this sort of "dog" - not the kind that continues to return to its vomit!