The Consequences of Willful Sin, Pt. 29
Yesterday I discussed how we are no longer slaves of sin but are free to righteousness. We can "Just Say 'No'!" Whether we do or not is our choice. Temptation may come, but I have the Holy Spirit that not only guides me to truth regarding my sin but with every temptation makes a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). So, we have no excuse. I don't know how many people I have met that claim it's just their nature or a bad habit. My response is to let the Holy Spirit change your nature and habits. Believe me, when I say I have to preach this to myself many times over again!
Sin centers around the letter "I." As a believer in Christ, I must decrease, and He must increase. Holiness is faith in action regarding my character. If I make a daily effort to submit to the Holy Spirit so that my flesh decreases and Christ in me can shine, then I do well. But what about willful sin? When I, as a Christian, refuse to submit to Holy Spirit's convicting work in my life because I enjoy the sin in which I live? Perhaps the sin is more convenient, or to address it would make waves in my family, work, or church, or I don't want to deal with the pain uprooting the sin would cause. There is danger in being stagnant and refusing to grow.
Interestingly, the Dead Sea is dead not because life doesn't flow into it but because nothing flows out. It just sits there, unchanged, despite what enters it. It collects minerals necessary for life but never sees that life manifest in it. That is the Christian who sits week after week in the church who refuses to allow the Holy Spirit to flush out the sin in their lives. Remember the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. Let's look at what Scripture has to say about those whose sin leads them away from God. Hebrews 6:1-6 states,
"Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame."
Immediately preceding these verses, Hebrews 5:12-14 describes the spiritually immature who desire to remain in what is defined by the author as the "elementary principles," which include repentance and eternal judgment. Perhaps we are so quick to discount our sin because we do not often hear preaching on eternal judgment, but we are supposed to, as Christians, "go on to perfection." This perfection refers to a state of being – namely, holiness. But what happens when we don't move on toward it, choosing instead to remain in our immaturity?
The implication is that our sin runs out of control in our lives, and as we fall away from the Lord, it does two things. One, it is like crucifying Christ all over again, and two, it puts Christ to open shame. Instead of making Christ famous, we make Him infamous. Instead of being conduits of His glory to the world around us, we disgrace Him, and by doing so, we continually subject Him to the sin that He went to the cross and bore for us so that we could be free. If we could get a picture of what our sin cost Him, we would be less likely to indulge in it.
We would do well if we could see the cross as less like a fire insurance policy and more like a "get out of jail" free card. Because just like we incarcerate repeat offenders, so sin will easily ensnare and enslave us, hindering our spiritual sight and choking out our ability to bear fruit to holiness. Have we forgotten so quickly that Christ told the woman caught in adultery to go and "sin no more?" That means, from this point forward, I am telling you not to miss the mark. Don't err or be mistaken in what I am asking you: don't wander from the truth of your freedom in Me, violating My character and nature in you. Christ would not have commanded it if He were not confident we were able to do so. Again, we have the Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, to accomplish this in our lives. This is far more than the lackadaisical attitude many have adopted toward sin that believes, "Oh well, if I sin Christ's blood covers it." While true, it is not an excuse to willfully act contrary to God's desire for us.
Freedom from sin enables holiness to become a reality in our lives, not just hopeful thinking.
Father, forgive me for the times I have taken Christ's sacrifice of sin lightly. It has never been my intention to get to a place where my sin crucifies and exposes Jesus to the ridicule of the world. Holy Spirit, I am asking You to transform me so that I never act contrary to the nature and character of God you are developing in me. Please show me the consequences of my sin upon Jesus so that I will not indulge my flesh and participate in it. I want holiness to become my reality so that Christ is glorified in me. I ask this in Jesus' Name, amen.