I finished up last week's thought with a question: If the promises of the Old Testament prophets and Jesus are true, how can we not have the hope that the promises of Jesus Christ and his Revelation are also true, thus making us truly saved for eternity?
How can we not have this hope? That indeed we are saved for eternity. If we accept Christ as our savior, confess our sinfulness, and ask forgiveness God is gracious to forgive us our sins and extend salvation to us. We’re good forever right? Can we not live this way victoriously?
In a perfect world yes. But we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a fallen world where Satan and his minions are trying to steal us away from an eternity with Jesus.
Satan is eternally lost, and he knows it. His joy comes from seeing the children of God confused, deceived, and tricked into sin and idolatry that then separates us from God again. 1 Peter 5:8-9,
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.”
The lion’s next meal is usually the weakest animal in the herd. Paul describes Satan as a lion looking for someone to devour. Satan preys on those humans that are the weakest spiritually, they’re the ones that are the most vulnerable. We cannot sit and be comfortable with Satan being near us.
Peter tells us to be self-controlled and alert for our enemy. Our enemy is Satan. Our enemy IS Satan. But if we are sinning, we treat Satan as if he is our friend. Satan knows our favorite sins, the sins that each one of us has a weakness for. He is our drug dealer, only he deals in every sin that there is. Drugs, alcohol, sex, prostitution, human trafficking, lies, anger, abuse, power and control, false idols, cheating, stealing, theft, greed, jealousy, and the list goes on and on.
We know that God will forgive our sins, well what if we keep sinning, but continue to ask God for forgiveness? God will forgive your sin, however, you are not free, you are just proving your addiction to sin. You are forgiven, but you are still a slave to sin. You prove that every time you sin again. God offers you more than just forgiveness. God is offering all of us freedom from sin, freedom from the temptations of Satan, freedom to not fear our sins or our addictions, and freedom to live and to love.
Paul addresses this question about our sin directly in Romans 6:1-7,
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
Paul is making the same argument that I made. But he explains it better because when we give our heart to Jesus Christ, we are united with Christ, through baptism, through death, and through life (eternal).
Through baptism, we are buried and then raised from the dead to a new life, free from sin. Our sin is dead, crucified with Christ. That sin, our sin, is nailed to the cross. Jesus conquered sin and the grave. Our old self is on the cross with Jesus. When we rise in baptism it is with the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. The same power that raised Christ from the dead.
Why would we want to give up our newfound freedom from sin and go back into bondage with Satan? This is why Peter is calling on all of us to continue to “resist him (Satan), stand firm in the faith”.
Keep the Faith! Resist Satan’s temptations, and don’t go to those places where you sin. Whether it's those places where you and sin used to hang out, or it's places where you and sin hang out on the internet, or where you and sin used to hang out in your mind. Don’t go where sin is. Don’t go near wherever you know sin to be.
We don’t sin by just falling into a sin hole, you know, like a sinkhole. No, we have to edge closer and closer to that hole of sin, because we’re interested in that sin, we are tempted by that sin, then all of a sudden, we have gotten too close to the edge of that sin hole, and swoosh, in we go, we have fallen back into sin. Satan has enslaved us again.
Don’t do this! Back to Paul, Romans 6:8-9,
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.”
Why, having escaped the clutches of sin and eternal death, would we want to go back into that captivity of slavery to sin with no hope but eternal death?
We have to take charge of our lives. We have to seek the Holy Spirit of God and ask the Spirit to assist us in our resistance to sin's temptation. Once we have been born again, the sin in our lives is dead. Don’t resurrect sin in your life. Focus on your freedom from sin, and do the things necessary to remain free from sin. Romans 6:10-14,
“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace (by the blood of Jesus Christ).”
There is no sadder junkie than the junkie who has experienced sobriety and then relapsed back into using again. They, for a time, experienced freedom from sin and death, for when using drugs today, death is always just around the corner.
To have experienced freedom, then to be captive once again is a dismal existence. This is misery, this is hell on this earth, in this life. This is not God’s plan for our lives, this is Satan’s plan. Don’t follow Satan’s plan. Why would we choose to follow Satan’s plan? We have a choice, we have an option, we can escape Satan, sin, and death. The way is through Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC