James 1:12-25 & Matthew 26:36-46
Pastor Steve started a new series today, “Effective Strategies at Fighting Sin,” based on James 1:12-25 and Matthew 26:36-46. His definition of sin is a self-centered life characterized by selfish pride. While sin can feel good for a season, it ultimately leaves you feeling empty and looking for new sin to fulfill the emptiness. We are most likely to break down and give in to temptation in the midst of a trial, but we should recognize it is not God tempting us—it’s our own desire bearing fruit.
Even when we are saved, we still have a corrupt human nature that desires to do wrong. The question is what we will do when the desire comes. “You have to stomp on it and kill it,” Steve said. “Otherwise, it graduates and becomes sin, and it has grandchildren. The biblical anthropology is you were born a sinner. While God is working out our trials for good, He is not tempting us.”
He said one clue to fighting sin can be found in James 1:19: to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. The presence of these three qualities in society would make it much better; the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Steve warned us to be careful what we label “righteous indignation” because it may simply be anger manifesting itself.
We also have to follow the advice of verse 21, to get rid of moral filth and evil that surrounds us. While it permeates today’s world, it’s been around forever, Steve said. If we hope to fight envy, unforgiveness, bitterness and sexual sin, we have to deal with it. To combat it, we have to accept what is already ours: the implanted Word—which he said is the first strategy for fighting sin. We have to read the Bible daily. We can’t love people or overcome addictions on our own.
“Read the Bible,” Steve said. “It will heal and restore and destroy what’s wrong in us. Then it will show us where God steps in. The gospel is saying, ‘You are not your own.’ You need to know about the mercy of God and the justice of God. The Bible gets into wounds and heals them.”
The second strategy is prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told His disciples to come pray with Him, but when He returned they had fallen asleep. Failing to receive the implanted Word and pray is what makes it easy to fall into temptation.
“This is the weaponry of our warfare,” Steve concluded.