Friday, July 25, 2008

So, you want to stop sinning?

Then, stop trying to stop sinning!

In a podcast I recently listened over at The God Journey, Darrin Hufford shared a story of the Supper Nanny dealing with the father of a little boy. This boy was seeing the video player in their living room as a ‘toy’ and was trying to insert his sandwich into it. His Dad came running, furious and said a series of loud 'NO's, yelling and trying to stop him. But Nanny took a different approach and explained to the Dad that during such times, show the boy a better toy and turn his attention to that toy instead of telling him bitter 'No's which is only good to make him sad or rebel further. Sometimes he wouldn't even realize why he should stop what he is doing.

Darrin mentioned, 30% of the kids who are brought up under strict, hardcore, ‘NO’, ‘DO NOT’, ‘STOP’ rules will have a low self esteem when they become adults. I agree with him.

I think the super nanny got that principle from New Testament.

It is the Grace of God what teaches us to say "No" to unrighteousness - Titus 2:12

This is against the popular belief that it is the law what teaches us to live a righteous life.

Paul also makes it clear that ‘the power of sin is in the law’ - I Cor. 15:56

This is not so hard to prove, especially if you have children. Tell them No for all the bad things they do and see the results. It is like, people paying no attention to a hole in the wall unless you write 'do not look through the hole' on top of it. All of a sudden, because of the law, everybody wants to look!

As Christians, we have something better than law to enable us to live a righteous life.

When I was born into this world, I was born spiritually dead. It is as if being born in the street, homeless. Then I live in the street, hungry and miserable until I come to my senses and realize that there is a huge inheritance, a beautiful palace (of the King), waiting for me to go and live in and it is totally FREE. As long as I live in the street, not knowing that there is a palace where I can go and live in harmony, it doesn’t matter how many people come and tell me to ‘stop living in the street’, I will continue to live there trying hard to make the best out of it. But once I move into the palace, and begin to explore the beauty, luxury, peace, joy and coziness of the place, I hardly want to go back to the street again.

I might still go at times due to some of my old memories (habits) but soon I will realize I am acting as a fool by living in the dirt when I have a world-class home to live in and enjoy. Or someone has to gently remind me of the beautiful palace and then I will run to it.

Believe me, living in the palace is better than living in the street! Grace is better than law!

God is not dealing with us on the basis of sin today. He said, he took it away at the cross, never to see them again. And it has been removed from His sight as far as the east is from the west. Today, we have better things to deal with.

As long as we preach, teach, think, read and write about law, all we are talking is sin, sin and sin. It doesn't matter what law it is, 10 commandments, our own Christian principles, NT principles, the do's and don't's of Sermon on the mount or what ever.

If I am dealing with a sin of over-eating (for example) and trying to stop it, any or all of the following could happen:
  • A short victory (most likely a very short one)
  • Thinking about food all the time and end up eating more
  • Infatuation with self
  • Feeling miserable and struggle with self-pity due to failure
  • Feeling rejected by God
  • Burn-out and depression
This is true for any sin, for that matter - lust, envy, pride, anger or hatred.

This is where the truth of New Covenant or the covenant of grace, which has been buried under the faulty teaching of religion over the centuries, comes for our rescue.

Under this covenant, which came into effect by the death of Christ (Heb. 9:17), which was prophesied centuries before by Jeremiah, 'I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more' (Jeremiah 31:34). It is not just the forgiveness but note the forgetfulness.

This understanding of the finished work of Christ and the finality of the cross is what enables us to totally take our focus from sins. But that is not possible if we have no better place to put our focus on. Today, He deals with us on the basis of His LIFE in us, the new life, our new identity in Him which made us a child of the most high. We don't have to live in dirt now, spending all our energy to stop sinning; instead we could spend our energy and time to discover the treasures we have in Christ (the new life), and naturally we will have only less time to think about sin. We are King's kids now and supposed to live in palace and we have better things to deal with!

6 comments:

Jordy's Thoughts said...

Hey man. So if GOD doesn't deal with us on the basis of sin anymore, what is the point of judgment at the end of our stay on earth? Cause iv'e always wondered, since sin is anything which is not of faith, we sin a lot. But if Christ took away all our sin at the cross, then why do people talk about experienceing regret when Jesus judges us? I mean the bible says in corinthians that people will suffer loss. But if GOD no longer sees our sin, then the sin of unbelief, when it comes to walking in God's will everyday can't be seen either., If He did see it, he would be lying caus He said he casat them as far as the east is from the west.

I just feel really guilty about my lack of service so I dont see how this all plays out.

Jordan

AmyC. said...

I was reading another brother's blog just yesterday about the topic of sin. This is the question he brought up, "Is stopping sinning repentance or the result of repentance?"

I believe it is the latter.

Why? Because I believe repentance MUST come FIRST from the heart.

Within. God "listens" to the heart. When a person is truly repentant, then they ask Father to help them change their behaviors...and do such.

BUT, God ALSO knows that actually stopping the sin may take a period of time...a process. If we were to "judge" whether a person is repentant (which really is NOT our job, period, but God's only) based solely on their success with stopping the behavior, it could take a long time for "us" to say, "Ok. So-so-so is really repentant b/c they've finally completely stopped such-and-such behavior," yet long ago, that person committed in their hearts to stop doing that sin. Such judgement is futile, as it bases repenance, upon performance.

Just another thought regarding sin. Once the Holy Spirit showed me this, it was freeing.

As well, I can completely expound upon the fact that it is LOVE and TRUSTING in God that are THE ultimate motivator that causes us to not sin. The moment we do not TRUST God, we fear. The moment we do not make a choice/action in LOVE (with is of Father) we sin. That's a whole other Blog or comment.

~Amy :)
www.myspace.com/amyinsurprise

Bino M. said...

Jordy,
So if GOD doesn't deal with us on the basis of sin anymore, what is the point of judgment at the end of our stay on earth?

First of all, 'there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.' (Rom 8:1)

My understanding is that the judgment seat of Christ is for judging the sin of unbelief, not any other sins because all other sins were judged, punished, taken away and forgotten at the cross. (Jesus said, the world's sin is unbelief in Him)

As far as believers are concerned (those who have applied their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus), I do not think there is a time of regret at the judgment seat of Christ. Instead, it's going to be a time of joy, excitement and a wonderful fellowship with our Savior.

I think you are talking about the reward system for believers. First of all, there is no reward for any of our fleshly achievements, no matter how good they are. Jesus explains this in the metaphor of the life of a branch in the vine where he said, 'apart from me you can do nothing'. So whatever, he accomplished in our life, according to his will, will be rewarded at that time. Living as a branch who simply bears the fruits produced by the Vine will be rewarded, not the branch's attempts to produce fruits.

Again, when you say you feel guilty about your lack of service, I can totally relate. But the truth, God do not require our service. Instead, He want to serve us and others through us. He has promised us that He is faithful enough to finish the work he has begun in us, and we can believe Him. Whatever he would like to do through you and me, He will accomplish at his perfect time and pace. He do not need our fleshly help on that.

so, we can relax! I too struggle with the issue of lack of service etc. But as I grow in the knowledge of His love and grace, the pressure to perform subsides and I am able to live in light of the Sabbath rest. But that religious performance mentality can still creeps in our life and that is quite normal and when it comes, we would renew our mind according the in light of Jesus, His gospel and our completeness in Him.

Bino M. said...

Amy,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! As I read through your comments couple of things came to mind:

First of all I agree that stopping sinning is the result of repentance.

I do not think the 'repentance' in the light of Gospel is not about repenting of all our sins (feeling guilty or feeling sorry). Instead it is a change of mind from unbelief to belief. We repent of our unbelief, which according to Jesus is the world's sin. And like you said, a righteous living is a result of our repentance because now we have new life to live in light of who we are in Christ. Bible says, 'walk according to the Spirit, then you will not fulfill the desires of your flesh'. But religion over the centuries taught us the opposite - Stop fulfilling the desires of your flesh, then you can walk in the Spirit.

Repentance is not feeling guilty or feeling sorry. It should be the total change of mind where there is no going back. So, I think it is not really possible to repent of our sins (plural). For example, If I repent of lieing (a sin, for example), I should NEVER lie again. If I lie again, that means I didn't really repent (total change of mind) in the first place. I stopped smoking once, but any time I can start it again. So I didn't really repented of my smoking.

Repenting of each sins we do (after all, according to Bible, sin is anything we do without faith in Christ!) is not practical and is impossible. Jesus didn't wait for us to repent of our sins, He took the initiative and went to the cross once for all to deal with the sins of the entire world and took them away from the sight of God.

None of the people who persecuted him repented of their sins but Jesus said 'Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing'. The forgiveness what Jesus provided was totally voluntarily and we had nothing to do in that other than accepting the fact that due to His act of obedience, we are free of condemnation.

Aida said...

Great post, Bino. When we change our focus, we automatically start moving in that direction. It's like driving a car. If we don't focus our attention in the direction we want to go, the car will begin to move in the direction where our attention is focused.

If our attention is focused on avoiding sin, we'll end up sinning. If, however, our attention is focused on righteousness, our behavior will go in that direction. It's really very simple and so VERY freeing.

Bino M. said...

Aida,
If our attention is focused on avoiding sin, we'll end up sinning.
Isn't that a very simple logic? But people struggle to get that.
Law is a tool God uses to drive people to the end of their ropes, thereby pointing them to Christ Jesus, who fulfilled the law for them. But people don't want to admit that they are at the end of their ropes, so they still struggle and the result is often times self-pity and self-condemnation.

What a great blessing we have in Christ... we simply need to give up our fleshly efforts and receive it.