Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one.
If you’re looking for a good book on the effects of sin, I recommend “The Bondage Breaker,” by Neil Anderson. In it he explores the dark side of sin and how it affects all of us. In the book he offers his “Steps to Freedom in Christ,” a system, he says that will help break the bonds of sin. When you round it all up, what he is saying is that you must fight evil with truth. The truth of God’s Word’s, the truth of the resurrection, the truth of grace, basically the truth in all things spiritual.
This morning in our New Testament lesson, Paul touches on this very topic. Paul urges all his readers to do away with all the instruments of sin that pull us off the narrow path to heaven and to live in the truth of God’s grace.
By God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in God alone, the bondage of sin has been broken. The devil, however, is still lurking, waiting to strike when we give him a chance. He wants you to succumb to the power of sin, he wants sin to reign in your life. Our sinful nature is tapped to bring us down but, because of Christ, we no longer need to be ruled by sin. Because of God’s grace and His divine nature, sin and death have been swallowed up. The devil no longer reigns, he has been defeated by truth.
God wants all of us to be free and always growing in Christ. It is His will that we break the bonds of sin and follow Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 reminds us that the will of God is for all believers to be sanctified, to be made holy as He is holy. Ephesians 4:13 tells us to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
God has given us all we need to accomplish this, but yet we find ourselves ignoring the truth for false truths that seems more enticing. Although the dominance of the sinful nature has been broken, this doesn’t mean that sin, itself, has been destroyed. The devil still works to destroy the lives of all those who give him opportunity. The believer might have the promise of God’s truth and grace to uphold him but that does not mean the fight over sin is done. We still have our sinful nature and it too often needs to be satisfied.
So, how do we free ourselves from the temptations that bring us down. Well, that’s the trick isn’t it? Even David, a man who God said was a man after His own heart, allowed sin to rule him from time to time. All of us struggle. That is why the truth of God’s Word urges believers to be constantly on guard to the danger of surrendering ourselves to evil passions. When David let down his defenses, he allowed sin to rule the day, when we do likewise, we will be cursed with the same result.
Each one of us is susceptible to the whiles of satan. He makes bad things look good and good things look bad, he is the King of all liars. If we allow it, he will not only corrupt us but all we come into contact with.
The devil does not want the ministry of Prince of Peace or any other Godly inspired ministry to continue and, because of this, he has corrupted people so that he might accomplish his goal. He doesn’t care who gets hurt or who might get in his way, his goal does not change. He takes believers, whole families, many generations of families and corrupts them to do his bidding, disguising his evil as good.
Paul is saying in our text that our very bodies can be made to be instruments of sin by the devil. The reign of sin on us demands obedience to our mortal bodies and their lust for sinful things. Our eyes, the very gateways to our soul, are used to give into temptation. Our ears hear sinful messages and the devil talks us into thinking that the temptations it spurns are not so bad. Our heartbeats increase at the excitement of living out our sinful desires. Our brains become numbed to the repetitions of sin we see every day to the point that they no longer bother us.
Charles Layhton starred as the villain in the classic movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He said that he had to strap himself in a harness and tie himself hunched over to look like a genuine hunchback.
But as the days of filming stretched into weeks, Layhton found that it took longer for him to stand up straight after the day’s filming. His body was getting used to being bent over.
This same affect also happens to us morally. A person can choose not to let a specific sin bother him for so long that he no longer considers it sin. The devil knows this, and he has the patience to wait it out as he gently pushes us further and further into our coma.
As believers, we are called to keep our sinful nature from ruling over our hearts and this can only be done by way of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. That is why God keeps urging us to trust in His Word. We, as believers can do this, but we must be willing. Our free will deceives us at times, that is why the Holy Spirit urging us, by faith, to rely on the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ to the truth of God’s Word to sustain us.
We need never be involved with what Christ came to save us from. Since the believer is united with Christ in His death and in His life, we are called to live accordingly.
Jesus says in John 8:34, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” And earlier in the chapter He told His disciples andHe also tells us that, “If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8: 31-32)
Our freedom from the bondage of sin comes through Christ by way of His Holy Spirit to the truth of God’s Word which will set us free. We bind ourselves with sin when we commit sin but God frees all those who come to Him in repentance and who abide in His Word as truth.
God did not design us to be in the image of sin but to be shaped and molded into HIS image. He did not design us to live in bitterness and envy but to live in forgiveness and love.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 Paul says, “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” We are commanded to shed all bitterness in our lives and to forgive others as we have been forgiven. And as we do, we will sense the grace of God and live it out more fully in our lives with each passing day.
We must, therefore, commit our entire lives to Christ and submit to His authority over our lives. Sin is nothing we can overcome alone. It requires something much stronger than we could ever provide. It requires truth. The truth of God’s Word’s, the truth of the resurrection, the truth of grace, The truth of forgiveness, all truth’s that only God can inspire.
When we rely on these truths, we find our rebellion to be quieted and our stubborn habit’s removed.
We live in an age of rebellion. Morals that used to inspire now are shot down as archaic and limiting, so we see people rebel against God and His people because they continue to uphold the truth. The devil hates truth and he will fight it to the bitter end.
That is why we are called to live in humility, thinking of others before we think of ourselves. We were designed by God to serve each other but pride too often causes us to think inward.
Instead of sharing what we have, we try to keep up with the Joneses.
Instead of taking the time to help someone in need, we limit ourselves with tight schedules and over-loaded agenda’s which bind us up so much we have no time to do what God has designed us to do.
What we all want in this world, where sin has shown itself with reckless abandon, is to free ourselves from the bind that sin cradles us in. We all, as believers in Christ, yearn for the freedom we know that God wants for all His children, and that freedom, that has been won for us on the Cross of Christ, is ours for the taking.
In life we must choose who is going to be our master. Our choice is to serve the one master who destroys or the one that builds up, the one that leads us to everlasting torment or the one that leads us to everlasting life.
God would have us to stop gambling with our lives trying to live by serving both masters. He doesn’t want to share us. He wants all of us and He was willing to bet His only Son on the chance that we would make the wise choice.
You may be feeling that sin has its grip firmly entrenched in your life and that you are bound to fail yet again by giving into sin’s evil desires. In our lesson Paul says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Only by submitting yourself to God can you find the grace and power needed to live the life of righteousness God has planned for you.
If you attempt to live your life by your own rules, the devil will find a way to destroy the image of God in you. Daily you must choose to surrender yourself to God. The alternative is to serve sin by serving yourself. If you are obedient to God you will find the Christian life is not a life of burdens but a life of freedom and a privilege to be lived up to.
Yes, there will still be figurative mountains we must climb and valleys we must survive because of sin and our own sinful nature, but each day in Christ will prepare us for those times. I invite you to surrender to Christ. Become the instruments He has created us to be. Choose God to be your master.
Serve others by helping them make the right decisions in their own lives. Together, we can do mighty things at the devil’s expense. Amen