Sunday, September 14th, 2014
Practice Makes Perfect (Part 15)
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful...
Romans 1:29-31 (NKJV)
God warns us about sin and its result. One referenced Bible study catalogues 667 different sins, but acknowledges the list as incomplete.* The only flawless Man was Jesus. Even so, He fought His way through a world of evil. He made a path for us to follow.
'For we do not have a High Priest Who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin' (Hebrews 4:15).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: consider one result of media bombardment; kids are savvy to hype--especially from Christians. These young detectives of hypocrisy turn their backs to a 'Holier than thou' (Isaiah 65:5) status, because they know it's bogus. 'There is none righteous, not even one' (Romans 3:10).
Without knowing the Truth, they prefer frank partiers to false puritans; messed-up people with sad hearts to dressed-up people with cold hearts.
Does Jesus agree? 'Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name, and done many wonders in Your Name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' ' (Matthew 7:22-23).
Bottom line: it's not the lack of sin that characterizes a Christian, but the lack of lying about it--along with a visible effort to live an unselfish life: a life of love and service, kindness and faith.
Consider Paul, arguably the world's most successful evangelist. His confession of sin, his anguish in regards to its elimination, has touched millions: 'What I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do... For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells... but how to perform what is good I do not find' (Romans 7:15-18).
In Romans 8, Paul shares the Key to overcoming his sin: 'By the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body' (Romans 8:13). Note the word, putting, as is not finished, but in process. By our best efforts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our sin is not only covered, but gradually eliminated.
So when you sin, confess it, address it and ask God for help to do better. The practice of truthfulness is an excellent foundation for the practice of righteousness. Jesus can work with that, and you'll avoid the label of phony.
To Be Continued...
* Biblical list and references for 667 sins: http://www.amazingbible.org/Documents/Bible_Studies/Sin_list_part_6.htm
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Practice Makes Perfect series.