Saturday morning in men's group I had the privilege to lead and facilitate the discussion. I am very humbled by the growth and sincere faith that I am seeing with so many other men in this special group of Men of Faith. This morning's topic was on avoiding unwanted sin in our lives. That is, the temptations that we bring on to ourselves and how we can pave steps to in our lives to navigate around these erroneous ways. I started the morning out by asking the men around the room to think about words in our lives: Temptation, lust, pornography, anger, pride, forgiveness, un-forgiveness, Father, Parent, Shame and continued with a few more thoughts along the way. Realizing that the term "parent" or "Father" could be very painful for some, I asked them to think about our Father God and how much he loves us and how much he desire for us to run to him just like the father that we read about in the Prodigal son. God desires for us to turn and repent and run to him. He waits for us with open arms and is quick to forget and slow to anger. For some of us, our earthly parents may have not shown the love of Christ. For others, they may not remember their parents and for the few fortunate ones who remember loving parents who modeled Christ's love for us - count your blessings! Come Holy Spirit come into our lives and grow us into the disciples that you want us to be.
There are some really good steps to work on daily in our lives to allow this growth to flourish: Pray continuously throughout the day, "Matthew 6:13 (ESV) 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Use God's Word daily, "2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV) 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," There is a very good acronym, which is MEALS, which means: MEMORIZE, EXAMINE, APPLY, LISTEN and STUDY these words daily. Before you say that you don't have time or it is impossible for you to do so think about all the passwords that you have to remember in our daily jaunts (come on - you can do it). Make this a habit daily and as your put more of God's word in and less of the world's view in - see what happens in you life. As one song puts it, "Break my heart for what breaks yours, open up my eyes...."
Know yourself (and your triggers to sin), "James 1:14 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire." For some of us this could be lust, it could be anger, it could be pride and it could be fatigue or for some others it could be a cocktail of all of the above. Avoid these triggers at all costs. Jesus said that if your eye offends you - pluck it out. If you hands offends, cut it off. I think we get the point - AVOID SIN and the Pitfalls of life. The old saying of "the devil made me do it" is sometime lost when he doesn't even have to push us in the direction of our known weaknesses. We can pray the armor of God on ourselves daily (Read Galatians 6).
Flee from sin (not walk, not poke around - R U N ! ! !), Verses from www.biblegateway.com on FLEEING. When Joseph worked for Potiphar in his house and was tempted beyond what most single men could bear, he not only fled from sin, he left garments behind in order to avoid any further temptation. God's word doesn't tell us to pretend that we have a good hold on temptation - it tells us to RUN (FLEE) don't even entertain temptation in any form (harmless flirting in improper friendships) DON'T DO IT!
Create honest accountability in your life, "James 5:16 (ESV) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working". Let's be honest for one second here. When you allow true accountability in your life, amazing things happen. Seriously! Accountability is only as good as how honest you will be. That being said, if you hold back anything from your accountability partner(s) then you are cheating yourself and the bond of brothers that can help carry our burdens. The thing about un-confessed sin is that it has so many repercussions, it separates us from God's holiness, from God's light in our lives and from the blessing(s) that he has planned for us. Don't mistake my words here. When we confess Jesus Christ as our Savior, then our sins of the past, present and future have been forgiven, are forgiven and will be forgiven. Un-confessed sin in our lives puts us in a prison. When we confess our sins to God and to our brothers - then we bring them into the light and then we feel God's love and mercy and we are free. We are in the light!
Be Encouraged not discouraged, "1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." Proverbs 3:5-6, "(ESV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." No matter how far we have come in our spiritual growth and sanctification we have to be honest and believe that we have setbacks and continuous sin in our lives. It is in us, that is, our old self (sin nature) versus our new selves and identity in Christ. When we do fall, we do sin, we do mess up, do not be discouraged. Confess and repent for our God is merciful.
Confess and Repent (turn from sin), "1 John 1:9 (ESV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What are some of your thoughts?