Thank God for springtime! I normally associate spring with Easter, and at Easter, we think about the merciful and marvelous work of the cross. Jesus died so the hold of sin and darkness could be broken off our lives. Galatians 5:1 (NIV) confirms that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” You might ask, though, why is there yet so much bondage when Jesus has set His people free? The answer is found in the second part of Galatians 5:1: “Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Jesus did His part: He died on the cross to free us. Our part is to receive Jesus as Savior, and then allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to stand firm and not return to a yoke of slavery. Remember salvation and our walk of faith not only involve turning to Jesus, but also continually turning away from sin that will enslave us.
The enemy, through deception, still tries to place a yoke of slavery (sin) around our necks and lives even though Jesus’ death and resurrection set a glorious race before us. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”
Why would I even speak about sin to Christians? I write about it here because in counseling and ministry, I regularly encounter Christians who are mired in sins they repeat continually. Please know that continual sin leads to destruction, and Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death.” I often warn that “sin has its own consequences.” That means those who are unrepentant (stay on a path of sin) will encounter darkness and much hardness. To them I say, repent, turn, and live.
One area of sin that has been rampant throughout time is sexual sin. Christians should surely not be found on this path as we have been given a new nature and are new creations in Christ. We are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Even as we watch the news, we clearly see that God is judging sexual immorality. Also prevalent are the sins of greed and deception as well as hardheartedness, unforgiveness, and judgment toward others. As our world shakes, let us consider the state of our own hearts and turn from any and all sinful patterns. Repent! Proverbs 4:23 wisely instructs us: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” God’s desire is for us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, His Son, (Rom. 8:29) and for this divine walk of transformation to be the course of our lives. As you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (living rightly), all you need will be given you (Matt. 6:33). If you are experiencing continual, pressing difficulty in your life, ask God whether or not it is connected to sin; and if yes, make a decision to repent, turn, and live rightly. Also, ask God to do for you what King David requested: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right (and steadfast) spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
I cannot stress how important it is to be diligent about walking in the Spirit of God and guarding your heart so you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Lust and sin actually war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11). If there is anything I value more and more as I mature in Christ, it is peace. Peace comes when we put our minds on Christ (Is. 26:3) and choose light over darkness, the Spirit over flesh, and holiness over sin.
If your thoughts so far have been this - “Well, I’m not in any gross or habitual sin. I’m good. I’ll just disregard this writing” - then let’s turn up the heat a bit. Look at Hebrews 12:1 again. Here we are instructed to lay aside weights in addition to sins. Weights are things that just slow us down on our “life race.” For me, I need to do a better job of managing my life: eating, resting, prioritizing, etc. I must exercise greater wisdom in taking care of Iris. For example, I like sweets, and God is dealing with me that at my age, sweets are now a weight to me. Also, I am a bit of a night owl. Though I get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, God is instructing me to turn in earlier and get up earlier. I must make changes as some of my current practices are weights to me. I know the battle between my will and God’s will must cease … in all things. I do not want a tug of war. He must have the pre-eminence. Ultimately, I don’t want my own will to become a weight to me! Think about that possibility! If you don’t mind, would you pause now and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any weights in your life. What slows you down and holds you back from a more abundant life in Christ?
Allow me to share with you a talk I had with the Holy Spirit recently: “Holy Spirit, I know you are leading me on a path toward abundant life and not death. I want a vibrant life in You, and You want me to fulfill every plan God has for me. Help me cooperate with You instead of seeing Your will as deprivation or constraint. After all, you are the Holy Spirit: You always do what is right and good. Forgive me for thinking I know what is best about anything. Forgive me … lead me into greater freedom, health, and peace. I want to obey because I want my life to honor and glorify God.”
May we lay aside sin and weights in order to flourish in Christ, abound in the things of God, and be conformed to the very image of Christ. The writing of Jonathan Cahn, author of The Book of Mysteries, offers wisdom: “Give Jesus your sins, every one of them. Let them go.” That means this: Just as you cast your cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7), you can also cast sin and weights on Him as well - indeed everything that holds you back. What a joy to know God wants us to be free - yes, free indeed - and in right position with Him (2 Cor. 5:21)! He will honor decisions that help us run our life race well and live rightly before Him. Ponder the words of King David in 2 Samuel 22:21: “The Lord rewarded me for doing right.” God is no respecter of persons: What He did for David, He can do for you. Think on these things!
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free ... Gal. 5:1
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