3. Avoiding Sin (Genesis 12:10)
In recent years, the disciplines of preventive medicine have burst upon us.
These disciplines consist primarily of diet, exercise, and stress control.
We are inundated by diet information.
Butter is not good for us.
But, more recently, margarine isn’t good for us either.
Eggs are not good for us.
But, more recently, eggs, in moderation, are good for us.
Red meat is not good for us.
The skin of the chicken is not good for us.
Eating six meals a day is better for us than eating three meals a day and snacking constantly in between.
If it flies or swims eat it; otherwise, it will eat you in its own way.
Grandma’s cooking was never good for us; that’s why grandpa died so soon.
The question though is how did grandma live so long? Probably because all she ever did was sample her own cooking since she was so busy making it she ran out of any appetite to eat it. So our refrigerators are full of food that’s good for us. Here’s a sample of what’s in our refrigerator.
low fat spread;
low fat cheese;
low fat lunch meat;
lot fat ice cream bars;
low fat yogurt;
low fat jelly;
In our pantry we have
low fat cereal;
low fat munchies;
low fat pretzels;
low fat chips;
low fat candy bars;
low fat cookies.
Now what I’m learning is that eating all that low fat stuff will keep me pretty high fat!
Nonetheless, we are into a low fat diet and have been for some time.
We are also told how important exercise is.
Aerobic exercise is the best. And the best aerobic exercise is simply walking twenty minutes a day three days a week. Of course, if you are willing to risk your knees, jog twenty minutes a day three days a week. If you are into machines at least one of the most recent studies tells us that the tread mill is the best, even though it doesn’t work your arms. However, if we have read what they put out, we know that swimming is the best exercise in the world for everything that we want to get. Golf is useless, no matter how many steps we have to take from the cart to the ball on days when the course is too wet for carts to leave the cart path.
Basketball, interestingly enough, is not all that helpful, although I can jog a whole lot longer than I could play any size court basketball. Weight lifting is very helpful for older people. Studies show that wheel chair bound people were able to get out of their chairs after only a few times of working out with weights.
So I have joined a health club and am over there on the treadmill (because of a somewhat faulty knee) three days every week and also work out somewhat when I can.
Stress is another story. Because it is so self-imposed in my life I don’t know that I’ll ever get rid of it. I live on a steady diet of stress and exercise my tongue grandly to get rid of it.
Preventive medicine is a good thing and because of it we may add eight months to our lives, but raise the quality of our lives significantly because of it.
But if preventive medicine is a good thing, what about preventive righteousness?
After all, isn’t a great deal of our physical breakdown due to our spiritual breakdowns?
Think of all the unnecessary stress my ego has brought into my life. Maybe we’d just as soon not think about this. Think of what anger does to us.
Would we not be wise to pursue preventive righteousness as well?
What would Abraham’s marriage have been like if he had pursued preventive righteousness?
We are learning about life and marriage at the expense of Abraham and Sarah. They were committed to the Lord and to each other, but they made serious mistakes with their lives which cost them dearly, and we are gaining the benefit of their mistakes.
For example, Abraham committed two key sins.
First, he went against God’s direct command as revealed in Genesis 12:2.
Second, he acted on his own when he ran into a situation in which he did not have a direct command even though he did have general information.
These are the same two kinds of situations we face.
We do have direct commands from God:
Do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
do not covet.
Question: What do we do with direct commands from God?
Answer: We obey them.
We also face situations when all we have is general information with not specific direction.
Question: What do we do then?
Answer: Stop, pray, listen, and do what we can with the information we have without ever resorting to the untruthful or the deceptive.
Chafer on May 6, 1929: $10,000, 5:00 A.M., Anderson +.
So then, how do we pursue preventive righteousness?
This is what I want to talk about this morning.
Act to Prevent Sin From
Controlling Your Life.
To help you understand how you can make progress toward doing this, I want to give you one “truth in lending” disclaimer and one core principle. From this we move to three insights we must have and six decisions we must make. That’s enough to keep you busy for a while!
You Must Know What God Has Done
Before You Can Do What God Wants Done
I want to give you some insights into how to prevent sin from gaining mastery over you.
INSIGHT #1: Sin Is No Longer Your King and Master.
By God’s grace, you have been identified with Christ on His cross and delivered from the reign of sin as your king and master. Now you have a choice, although it seems so overwhelming because you seem so powerless. Think according to this reality.
INSIGHT #2: Sin Begins as a Thought in The Head.
Sin never comes forth as a fully developed baby. There is a gestation period for sin, even as there is for a baby. If the thought is never entertained, the baby will never be conceived. Therefore, pay attention to the way you think. All of us think in ways that give sin mastery over us and don’t even know it. We think anger thoughts or pride thoughts or fear thoughts or any of a number of other kinds of thoughts without even knowing it.
Pay attention to the thoughts you think.
INSIGHT #3: Sin Moves to the Heart as a Desire.
Once sin settles in the mind, it moves as rapidly as it can to the heart as a desire. It moves from dream to desire, to longing, to something I must do or I must have. All of my values are being pushed aside in such a situation, and I am being hurried along by a current of lust. Thus, if sin breaks loose from my mind, I must pay attention to my feelings.
When sin breaks loose from my mind it is like a blood clot breaking loose from my leg and moving to my heart. I am headed for a heart attack unless I do something about it.
INSIGHT #4: Sin Expresses Itself Through My Hands as an Act.
If I do not stop it, once sin moves to my heart it is only a matter of time before it acts through my hands.
How do we prevent this?
Here are some decisions I have made.
There are many better approaches, I’m sure, but this has helped me.
I present them to you in a series of decisions we need to make.
DECISION #1: Realize I Can Sin.
I can sin and I can sin in some very serious ways.
DECISION #2: Note the Sins You Are Most Prone to Commit.
What are you most likely to do? What are your strongest driving desires?
- All of the above?
Each of these drives takes on a particular sin form, and you must note what form such desires take when you act on them in your life.
DECISION #3: Determine that You Will Not Commit These Sins.
Erect an altar and proclaim the name of the Lord. Make a private commitment to God and some kind of an accountable commitment to your mate or some other trusted friends who share the same values you have.
DECISION #4: Develop Disciplines to Resist Sin.
The vital disciplines are prayer and the Word + accountability with others who know and love you.
DECISION #5: Remember Sin Is More Than Skin Deep.
Too often we think of sin as behavior. Behavior is surface.
Sin is soul.
It is not enough to deal only with behavior. We must recognize the root of sin. Behavior is fruit: sins.
Sin is root: energy, force, power.
- We sin because something is more important to us than God.
- We sin because something is more satisfying for us than God.
- We sin because something is ore powerful in us than God.
DECISION #6: I Will Not Fight the Sin Battle Alone.
I will rely on the Holy Spirit. I will involve others with me in the battle with sin. In a recent time of discussion with Christian leaders who have fallen, one after another these fallen leaders told me that the two key realities of their lives were that they had failed in pursuing daily time with God and they were never in any true form of accountability.
Let’s do this. Let’s, every time we do something to practice preventive medicine, also do something to practice preventive righteousness. For example, every time we eat something low fat, let’s take a few minutes just to worship the Lord in prayer or praise.
Not necessarily in the same moment nor even overtly. Perhaps on the way back to the office or walking down the hall or brushing our teeth just to think words of praise and thanksgiving and dependence.
Or every time we jog or workout, take some time to cleanse our souls be confessing sin and thanking God for His patience with us. Or let’s get rid of stress by giving our fears or our concerns or our angers to the Lord.
Not only might we live longer; we’ll certainly live better!