"I Can't Overcome This Sinful Habit!" (part four)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In part one of this series we were reminded that in order for lasting change to happen in your struggle against addictions, your entire being – mind, will, and emotions – must be affected by God's truth. In part two we considered the role of our minds. (Remember the truth of your identity - you don’t have to sin anymore!) In part three we focused on the role of our wills. (Act on the truth of your situation - you’re in a war!) Today we will consider the role of our emotions in the fight against sinful habits.

With your emotions you must delight in the truth of eternity - sin cannot give you ultimate joy. 

What is it that you really want?
You say, “I want to change” 
… really? Do you really want to change?
Do you really want to leave your sin behind, forever? Do you hate sin, or just the consequences of sin?

Perhaps you'd admit: I want change, but I want to have change without having to break a sweat.
I want change, but I can’t say goodbye to something I love.
I want change, but only because it will make my life a little easier or save me some money or maybe it will restore my relationship with my ex-wife.
I want change…but only sometimes.
I want change…but not until tomorrow.
You will not desire real, lasting change until you desire God more than anything. Until you delight in him over all the temporary pleasures of sin.

Isaiah 55:1-3: Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live!     
Open your soul to hear this invitation to partake in the joys of God! You don’t need to keep drinking sewer water - you can quench your thirst at clear, cool streams! You don't need to keep eating that gross moldy bread – you can have the good stuff fresh out of the oven! Don’t you want this more than anything?

The most effective motivations are positive motivations, because ultimately people will do what they want to do. So, what is it that you want the most?

When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23)
“You have been set free from sin.” Addiction feels like slavery, doesn’t it? And sin is a cruel master. But sin is no longer our rightful master. “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin… [but] if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36). God has redeemed us, and He is now our master. And he gives the gift of life and the fruit of holiness.
The choice between God and sin is a choice between life or death. Let the significance of that choice sink in. The stakes are incredibly high! Today you can experience distance from God by turning to sin. Or you can experience life by walking with God and focusing on the joy of eternity to come.

Titus 2:11-13: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age waiting for our blessed [happy] hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Grace teaches us to renounce sin in light of something infinitely better - our “happy hope” – the glory of Jesus!
One day Jesus will return in glory and His people will be with him forever. He will usher in his glorious kingdom and defeat all enemies of joy and righteousness. Everything evil will come untrue. The fight with temptation and sin will be over as you become perfect in holiness.

Isn’t this what you desire most? In those moments of fierce temptation, when it seems nothing else matters but gratifying your desires, grace reminds you to desire the best joys, to wait for your happy hope. Don’t sacrifice what you want most for what you want now! Sin cannot give you ultimate joy, only Jesus can. God doesn’t want to keep you from pleasure, He wants to give you the greatest pleasures!
Do you believe this?
Your ability to turn from sin and obey God is in direct proportion to your ability to believe God’s precious and very great promises of joy.

So get to know God’s promises. Get to know God. Worship Him. Sin is nothing other than misplaced worship! In order to leave your worship of sin, you must replace it with worship of the one and only true God.
It could be that you want sin more than you want God because you don’t really grasp just how good and glorious and gracious God is. Any plan to beat addiction must include a plan to know God better. Familiarize yourself with His beautiful, perfect character. He is great, He is glorious, He is delightful. Worship Him. You are not going to break free from your sinful habit without worship of the one true God.

Maybe you read this series of posts hoping for a simple, easy solution for your addiction. One simple answer. One magic pill. I'm sorry to say that it doesn’t work that way. Sin is complex, and breaking a sinful habit is complex. Getting into your addiction took time, effort, and practice, and breaking your addiction will take much more of the same. But here’s the good news: Your gracious, loving Savior is the great physician. He gives us just the right combination of healing medicines and strengthening exercises in His Word. More than that, He gives us Himself. We don’t just get the prescription, we get the doctor. We don’t just get the life ring, we get the lifeguard. We don’t just get the salvation, we get the Savior. We get Christ.

So run to Christ!
While there’s life and while there’s Christ, there’s hope. Repent today! Return to the Lord. He loves you. Remember how horrendous sin is, then remember how good God is and go to Him. He invites you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:8-10)

Run to Christ! Cling to Christ! Stay with Christ! Don’t shrink back from Him in shame. He loves you - He died on a cross to prove it. The cross has made a way! His arms are open to you.
Even when we’re faithless, He remains faithful – He cannot deny Himself.


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