Did your house shake last night? What do you think about all this prayer stuff? Is God’s word prodding you to action? Do you need a little more encouragement?
I attend a small group on Wednesdays in which we are currently studying spiritual warfare. Of course, prayer is a big part of this. We are really making inroads by recognizing the influence of Satan and his demons in their lives and being proactive in our prayer regarding it. In a nutshell, it can be summarized in this passage:
James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
It’s very difficult to make any inroads unless one is ready and willing to submit. That’s what James is encouraging us to do in the last part. We need to be willing to let God sanctify us. If we hold on tightly to our sin, there seems to be only so much that he will do for us. On the other hand, when we throw ourselves to the mercy of God and ask forgiveness and become willing to let him change us, we can expect big things.
Let me put it this way. Do you think God will burden you with sin that you don’t truly want? Do you think God will refuse to help you change your ways and leave you to commit your sin, over and over and over again? Do you think that’s what he wants? Of course, it isn’t! He came to destroy the works of the devil, did he not? Do you think he will refuse your request to have him remove sin in your life? Hardly.
Now, this sin may be deeply entrenched and not want to leave right away. Some sin is so engrained that it may take a tremendous effort to be rid of it. But, if we are willing, God will remove it, layer by layer. The problem is that we say we want to be free, but we aren’t willing to do whatever it takes. For example, we may refuse to go to treatment for alcoholism. “Anything but….” We may fight pornography in private but refuse to expose our behavior. God is capable of removing any sin, but he is clear that he will do so for his own glory. If we won’t allow him to do it his way or refuse to be exposed, then we are still, in effect, clinging to our sin.
Let me give you an example.
John 4:16-19, 28-29, 39-42 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet.”
So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and they stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
You and I have been approached by Jesus at our own water wells. We normally think of this as a call to salvation, and indeed it is. But is it just that? Could it be that this is also a call for sanctification, to rid ourselves of a besetting sin? I think it is. And, if that is the case, Jesus reveals that sin to us, just as he did with the woman at the well, right? And, what did she do? She told about that encounter with everyone by intentionally revealing her sin as part of her testimony. And, because of that, others believed.
Folks, God will free you of your sin, but he WILL use it to his glory which means he will give you a story to tell. We all know that, don’t we? And, I maintain, that is precisely why we have such trouble with besetting sin. We don’t want anyone to know we are struggling so. We want everyone to think we are this good Christian, with normal, acceptable faults, who doesn’t have a secret. Phooey! When I hear the statistics regarding the church and pornography, including pastors, I know that we have a lot of secret sin. Plus, how many of us are truly willing to expose just how incredibly difficult (impossible) it is to lose all that flab? We hate to call ourselves gluttons, and I say that from my own personal experience.
It takes humility to admit this stuff to one human being, at first, let alone to make it part of our public redemption story. But, unless we are willing to do things His way, we will never experience the freedom he has available to us (this side of heaven). Are you willing to do what he says?
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Father, show us, teach us. Even though we believe and may have already had big sin removed, we still have besetting sin that needs to go. Stir us to action, Father. Amen.