Awakened to Sin and Sin-fighting
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. -Matthew 5:27–30
Check out last week’s message here.
Awakened to My Sin
Ok, I am convinced and cut to the heart about my sin. Jesus is not playing games in Matthew 5:27-30. I no longer believe that a particular sinful act (like cheating on my spouse) is all that I should avoid. I now see sin as that pervasive menace, foiling everything good and true. Whether the covetous lust of my heart or my physical actions, both are sinful. The simple difference between these is not of content but of location, for, “…one is [SIN] carried out in the heart and one is [SIN] expressed in the body*.”
…And, sin leads to hell (Matthew 5:30).
Awakened to Sin-Fighting
Ok, so I must fight. Where do I begin?
Pastor Mike shared* that we uphold two truths in our sin-fighting:
- Sin leads to hell.
- Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone.
In terms of practical steps to fight sin, we have many grace-powered tools God grants, two of which Pastor Mike shared.
First, remember the heart of the Gospel when the weight of sin bears down on your soul.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -1 John 2:1–2
Second, A.P.T.A.T. (an acronym shared from Pastor John Piper).
ADMIT: your needs to God.
PRAY: for help and strength from God.
TRUST: that God will answer your prayer.
ACT: in dead-serious obedience to fight your sin.
THANK: God for every victory AND thank Him as a means of replacing temptations with Gospel truths.
Each point in that acronym is helpful, but consider THANK for a moment. Is thankfulness really a sin-fighter?
Paul would say, “Yes!” In Colossians 3, Paul mentions thankfulness three times as an attitude we “put on,” in contrast to the sinful flesh which we remove.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:15–17
The more you consider the eternal peace Christ has won, the more you will be thankful (Colossians 3:15). The more you ponder Christ in your heart, the more your heart will abound with thankfulness (Colossians 3:16). And, the more you are thankful, the more you will return thanksgiving to God in obedience (Colossians 3:17). “Your heart cannot, in the same moment, be full of gratitude towards God in Christ and be tempted to sin…your heart simply does not have the capacity*.”
So, fight sin today, fully aware of its pervasive effects, and more fully aware of what Christ has accomplished in you.
And be Thankful
When tempted to flee God’s face;
To think that I should cheapen grace,
I remember my sin leads to death,
God’s judgment in the form of wrath,
“I never knew you!” were His decree,
Directed toward none other, only me;
Torn from all things bright and true,
Eternal anguish and regret, no hope for something new.
But if that wrath, placed on His Son,
Eternal joy, my blessing won,
Could I stand thankful in that purchased peace?
Saying to temptation, “No thanks!”
*Quotes from Pastor Mike shared in the sermon preached on April 4, 2022.