"Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God's law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will)." John 3:4, AMPC
I knew the first part, that sin violates God's law - but the second?
Sin is also living unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will. Ouch.
Sure, that could mean acting like a fool, partying, and running wild. But, what about doing what I want when I want to without asking God if it's His best, in His Will, or pleasing to His Holy Spirit - my true life partner.
Well, Who else do believers truly do life with? He's the One who has humbled Himself to live inside me to love, care for, and, most relevantly - guide me.
"So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life]." Romans 7:6b, AMPC
Look, I'm not talking about being afraid to decide or say a word without God's say-so.
I mean pushing forward with an action, statement, or behavior that I know isn't the most pleasing Spiritually, but I'm feeling tempted, hangry, like I deserve it, or the all-important - I've got to make it happen (like Sarah) and take the feel-good now over the wait-and-let-it-pass.
Thankfully, God understands and, true to form, He's already provided the way out:
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV
Fun fact: temptation lasts an average of 3 minutes. Come on, we can do anything for 3 minutes!
We can pray, drink a glass of water, and ask ourselves what the likely outcome of our decision is, then - we can choose.
While I can bet neither you nor I bumble it every day, I've done it enough that I've learned the hard way - plowing ahead often results in feeling embarrassed and/or needing to repent.
It's that "Why, oh why, don't I learn?" feeling that Paul talks about:
"For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right but no power to carry it out.]
For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.
Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [[c]fixed and operating in my soul]." Romans 7:18-20, AMCP
But what can we do about it? Are we helpless? Is there any hope, or is God shaking His head, ready to cast us aside because there's just no teaching us?
"O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death?
O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!" Romans 7:24-25a, AMPC
Well, If you've got a better way - please let me know, but if not, try mine:
I'm starting to know myself enough that I pray in advance, asking God to help me be more sensitive to His Holy Spirit before I go into situations where I want to please people, push myself forward, get my own way, or go to the front of the line.
But for me, that's not enough. That's right, you might be less driven by your unconscious, but I've also got to recognize temptation at the moment, while it's a thought and before it births action (James 1:14-15) - then pray again for God to help me take the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
That usually means to stop talking, stay put, or sit down.
Now, if you know how I roll, you've anticipated I've started brain retraining on this issue. See, I can tell when I need help - when I start noticing a bad habit happening more often than not. It's the Holy Spirit showing me another layer I need to address.
So, I ask myself questions like, "When do I usually do this; how do I feel when it happens; what triggers me, how did I learn to do this or that I needed to," and, importantly, "What do I want to feel and do instead?"
For many of us, that's the final key - taking care of the unconscious resources we're responding to and feeling unable to control.
Those learned programs trying to keep us safe or ensure our needs are met must be healed so that we can hear and respond to the Holy Spirit within.
Neither of us is alone in this. If you need more help, reach out. We can do this together.
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