You Cannot Manage Sin

(re-post from Thursday, August 28, 2008)

One of my projects is to write some devotions for men. The National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families is developing a devotional book along with the men’s ministry of the Nazarene Church and I have been invited to participate.

Sometimes we are led to write things for others and then there are times we realize that we are just writing for ourselves.
Maybe this one was just for me today.
You Cannot Manage Sin
John 5:14

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
John 5:14 (NIV)

The phone call is as clear today as it was a few years ago. It was a regular phone check-up with a very close friend to see how he was doing. He had been battling alcoholism for years and had been in and out of different rehab programs.

I asked him how he was doing with the alcohol issue and he responded with the almost normal reply, “Not bad” he said “I seem to be doing better.” Then it hit me…..He was OK with his drinking. He just wanted to get it to an acceptable level. He wanted to get his life right but still be able to drink.

It was one of those incredible wake-up calls for me. My friend was like me and most men. We think that we can beat the problem by working our way out of it. You know gradually getting to where we want to be in life.

We think that we can establish acceptable levels of sin that will in some way be pleasing to God.
In doing so it allows us to continue to sin but to a lesser degree so we can report that we are doing better.

So often we like to compare ourselves and our lives with really bad sins so our lives by comparison do not look that bad. It is like we are saying, “Come on– give me a break. I did not kill anyone today.”

We want to ignore the sin as we let our eyes wander and even dwell on ladies inappropriately. We say to ourselves, a little look won’t hurt; after all I am getting better.

We spew out a few curse words but justify it by the heat of the moment; but again, we are getting better. Isn’t that what God wants? Jesus did not tell the man “Go and sin less each day and eventually you will become healed and free from this thing.” He said, “Go and sin no more.”

Sin is sin and God does not give us acceptable levels that are more pleasing to Him that others.
There are not degrees of sin which are established by comparison with others to make us feel that we are doing better.

One of the most important steps is to look at our lives and really ask the question, “Where have I established acceptable levels of sin in my life?”

Perhaps it is time to really listen to Jesus when he said, “Stop sinning.” Pray and ask God to show you where you have established “acceptable levels” of sin and ask Him to give you the strength to stop sinning. Start with one area of your life and do not accept and agree with satan that some sin will be OK today and as a result our progress will be pleasing to God.

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