“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2)
Sin ensnares. Sin clings so closely. Sin looks to promising but brings nothing but heartache in the end. Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.
If we’re to achieve the goal of holiness, we absolutely must get rid of sin. How can you get rid of the sin in your life?
Put the Word of God in your heart.
I offer suggestions for placing the Word of God in your heart here.
Pray for God not to lead you into temptation.
I offer suggestions for praying for holiness here.
Guard your heart.
Sin, Jesus says, originates in the heart (Matt 15:18-20). Think about it: adultery begins in the heart as lust, murder starts in the heart as hatred, and robbery originates in the heart as greed. Because every sin you commit comes from your heart, you must be ever so careful what you put in your heart – “Garbage in, garbage out.” “Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8)
I hate going to the doctor, but sometimes going to the doctor for an examination is absolutely necessary. Give careful consideration to the state of your heart. Are you thinking on things above or things of the earth? Are your actions consistent with the teachings of Jesus? Do you live according to the teachings of Scripture? “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor 13:5). Only after my doctor examines me can he make recommendations to alleviate my suffering. Only after you examine yourself – honestly examine yourself – can you take corrective action.
Ask for help.
In the United States, being self-reliant is a large part of our culture; we typically want to handle everything ourselves. Yet, we need the encouragement and help of fellow Christians to combat the wiles of the devil. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). How can we allow others to bear our burdens if we aren’t willing to ask for help? If you’re struggling with sin, please ask for help!
Look for God’s way of escape.
God will provide a way of escape with every temptation; that is His promise – “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” (1 Cor 10:13). I fear that we too seldom look for that way of escape, but it is always there. Think back over your past sins and think about how you could have avoided that sin – what was the way of escape? As you look back at past ways of escape, you will be better able to train yourself to look for that way of escape.
Remember that you haven’t yet resisted temptation to the point of shedding blood.
“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb 12:4). Your struggle could be worse – you could need to make the choice to live in this world by committing sin or die as a martyr. Never forget that your struggle against temptation and sin could be far worse.
Consider the saints of old.
So many saints of old overcame the flaming arrows of the devil. Look to them and be encouraged. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son – the son of promise – rather than to disobey the command of God. Daniel would rather have been torn apart limb by limb by hungry lions rather than neglect his prayer life. Jesus went to the cross because it was the Father’s will. Saints have long resisted Satan. As you resist him, you stand in good company.
I pray that you will give serious consideration to how you can throw off the sin which so easily ensnares you and run with endurance the race set before you. Always look to Jesus as you run.
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how to actively add holiness to our lives. Until then, be blessed!