This is where i think many Christians go wrong, especially myself. We all know sin is bad and that we shouldn’t do it but it rarely extends beyond that. I know that i tend to gauge where I am in my walk with Christ by my “victories or defeats” in temptation and sin. First off, I think these terms are bad because the idea is carried within them that we are not to be held responsible. Allow me to clarify… If i say, “I was tempted to sin and was defeated” it seems to shift the blame from me to some outside agent. I think the better terms would be “obedient and disobedient”.
So when we begin to measure our lives primarily on how much we sin or do not sin, we are always going to end up wanting something more. Why is that? I think we would all agree that it is because ultimately the Christian life is not based on what you do or don’t do but on what Jesus Christ has done.
I am taking a class this semester on John Owen. He is a difficult and terrifying read and much of the time I feel like he is starring at me, constantly looking over my shoulder. The class is outstanding. I have really enjoyed reading Owen because his writings are saturated with the work of the Holy Spirit and human responsibility to put the deeds of the flesh to death. So while we should not measure where we are in our walk with Christ primarily on how well we manage sin, we should make it our joyful duty to kill our prideful, idolatrous desires. In his book Death by Love, Mark Driscoll says, “Stop trying to manage your sin and put it to death.”
Subconsciously (or perhaps intentionally) I think we can tend to justify our sin because “well, it’s been a while since i have lied… so maybe its ok if i tell this one little lie today.” That is a complete anti-God perspective that I am guilty of more than often. John Owen says, “There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so, as long as we live in this world.”
So how do we kill sin? Owen says you pray, pray, and pray some more that God will begin to work in your life. One of the Holy Spirit’s duties to progressively bring the believer along in sanctification. In praying in reading the Scriptures, our heart and soul will begin to see Jesus as most beautiful. Granted, we know we will never arrive while we live in this earthly body… but i believe the measure of a Christian is found in the fight, not in sin management.
We must rid ourselves of the idea that God is only angry toward the “big sins”. Jesus had the flesh ripped off of his back and hung on the cross in a bloody mess for our disobedience and failure to live up to God’s standard… even in the little things. Jesus doesn’t want us to make a deal with our sin, but nail it to cross, watch it scream, and smile as it dies.