This is the sixth message in my series on sin. With Easter coming up, we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Just as God sent Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus was sent to deliver us out of slavery to sin. We have been set free from sin. It shall no longer be our master. But as the Israelites were tempted to return to slavery, we also face the temptation of returning to slavery by allowing sin to reign in our bodies.
The Bible says,
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
I heard a message recently about our spirit, soul and body. Our spirit is perfectly holy. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. When our soul and spirit are in agreement, our body (flesh) will follow.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
We’ve already talked about bringing our mind into agreement with our spirit in the last two posts. The next few posts we’ll focus on our emotions. The remainder of the series will be on our will to turn away from temptations.
Galatians 5:13-16 tells us: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh
We indulge our flesh when we allow bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. There is so much bitterness in the church today, especially toward each other. We are trying to reach out and love the world, but not loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can’t love the world when we are bitter toward one another.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.
I want to invite you to do an exercise God taught me to reveal why we are quick to take offense and become bitter toward one another.
Grab a pen and paper and make a list of everyone who offended or hurt you this year. Come back to this spot when you are finished.
Are you back with your list?
Great! Now I want you to make another list. This time, write down everyone you have offended or hurt this year.
Are you finished?
Now compare your lists.
Which list is longer?
Most likely, your first list is longer. When I made my lists, I could come up with a handful right off the top of my head of who hurt or offended me. But I had to think hard to remember who I’ve hurt or offended, and could only think of my husband and children, since they are with me the most.
Why is it easier to remember those who’ve hurt us than those we’ve hurt?
I believe there are two reasons: One, we are so busy and focused on what we have to do that we don’t realize what we do to others. Two, we don’t believe the best in others, so we often judge and perceive their motives wrongly.
Most of us don’t intentionally set ourselves out to hurt others. I don’t get up in the morning and think, “Who can I hurt or offend today?” Many times when we say or do something hurtful or offensive, we never intended to. Our hearts may be in the right place, but our actions or words come out wrong or are perceived wrong.
Several years ago, I was walking with my kids in the parking lot of my church when a woman nearly ran us over with her SUV. I was so upset at the woman that I didn’t pay attention to the couple opening the door for us as we were entering the church. I didn’t realize they opened the door until I heard them huff at me for not acknowledging them with a “Thank You!”
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
If I would have overlooked the offense in the parking lot like God instructed me to, I wouldn’t have offended the couple holding the door for us. If the couple holding the door would’ve overlooked my offense, they wouldn’t have responded rudely to me. The amplified version for 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that love bears up under anything and everything that comes, and is ever ready to believe the best of every person. If we would’ve believed the best in each other, we would’ve seen that our perceptions were wrong.
The lady in the SUV didn’t purposely try to run my family over. It was an accident. She didn’t see us even though we were out in the open. She probably had something else on her mind. I didn’t mean to be rude to the couple holding the door for me. It was an accident. I didn’t see them even though I walked right past them. I had something else on my mind.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, all whose thoughts are fixed on Him (NLT). When our minds are fixed on God, He will help us bring our emotions under submission and respond to one another in love.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
I encourage you to take your first list and rip it up right now and throw it away. Forgive those who hurt you just as Christ forgave you. If you wrote anyone on your second list, seek their forgiveness and receive God’s forgiveness for yourself. Leave no room in your heart for bitterness.
We praise You for sending Jesus to set us free from sin. Thank You for having compassion on us so we can have compassion on others. Help us draw close to You, so You can remove all bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts. Bring our mind, will and emotions into agreement with Your Holy Spirit so we make no provision for our flesh.
In Jesus’ name we praise You! Amen!
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Romans 13:14, KJV
*The “Sin Series” will continue next Monday (Eastern Time).