3-Fold Strategy for Rooting Sin Out of Our Lives

A number of years ago, on my way home from work, a guy cut me off in traffic and I became very angry. I honked and scowled at him to let him know what I thought of his driving. Then, instantly, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin.

I was crushed! How could I respond to others with such anger and venom? I felt soiled by my sin. I was deeply ashamed and desperate to have the Lord take this behavior from me. I needed his transforming power.

At home, I changed and went out for a hike. On that hike, I meditated word-for-word and thought-for-thought on 1 John 1:9, allowing its truths to wash over me.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.

My meditation on this passage was extremely helpful and it also prompted a thought in me I had never considered.

Up until now, I had always “hoped” and “prayed” that I would avoid such a godless reaction when a situation like this arose in traffic. But I saw that this approach was totally passive on my part. As a result, I was always dealing with this sin on the back side of it, after-the-fact, in a reactionary way having to “clean up” my mess.

I realized that all of us go through much of life hoping to avoid sin, but doing very little to aggressively root it out of our lives. Specifically with this sin, I decided I needed to go on the offensive and remove it from my life—but how?

Going to the Word and in conversation with the Lord, he led me to a three-fold offensive strategy:

  1. I daily practiced abiding in Christ asking him to change me.
  2. I shared my specific need for change with a confidant—a spiritual partner (and with my wife).
  3. I chose to replace anger and frustration, with Christ’s patience and love.

Over the next months, as I continued practicing this offensive strategy, I experienced the change the Christ wanted to bring about in me. He gives us victory!

However, I must confess that the second element of that strategy was the most difficult because I had to humble myself, admit defeat, and give my confidant permission to ask me each week how I was doing.

The second element of this offensive strategy is so crucial for victory:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What pattern of sin would you like God to root out of your life? Go on the offensive, using this strategy and see what God does!

©2015 Rob Fischer

Defensive Living

As I write this we’re in the middle of the football playoffs to determine which two teams will play in the Super Bowl this year. Football offers a great reminder that a winning team must play well both defensively and offensively.

A football team may have the best defense in the league, but unless they can pull things together offensively, they will not score and cannot win. A team cannot win games by merely playing defensively.

The same holds true in our walk with Christ. Many Christians live their lives solely with a defensive strategy. I’ve caught myself doing this. But we cannot win in our walk with Christ by merely living defensively. Defensive living implies either holding the ground we’ve gained, or losing as little ground as possible (which is moving backwards).

Consider too that defensive living is reactive living. As in football, when we are in full defensive mode we are merely reacting to the plays and ploys of our opponents. In defense mode, we are not in control, our opponent is. In defensive living, we wait to act until our adversary makes his offensive move; then we react.

What does defensive or reactive living look like? It’s “merely trying not to sin” when the tempter throws an offensive play (a temptation) at us that we know has licked us in the past. Defensive living is being content with mediocrity. “I’m okay if I don’t lose ground.” Or, “So I back slid a little, everyone does from time to time.” Or, “I think I’m more godly than most.”

As I stated, defensive living is not a winning strategy. And think about it, if we’re not winning, the other team is!

So how do we beef up our offensive strategy as followers of Christ? First, we have to be very deliberate about it. Great offensive plays don’t just happen. We take measures to make sure they occur. We discipline ourselves and prepare ourselves. We go into the fray intending to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Second, instead of treating sin and temptation purely defensively (i.e., waiting for the temptation to tackle us) we go after it. We identify the sin, ungodly habit, or known vulnerability to temptation and we eliminate it from our lives (Romans 6:12). We can tackle sins head-on in a couple different ways.

Fleeing from sin is one way to actively deal with it. In 1 Timothy 6 Paul names some sins, ungodly habits and temptations. Then he urges Timothy to flee from all of them! At times fleeing from sin can be a defensive play. At other times, fleeing is like the quarterback falling back to avoid being sacked so he can throw a winning pass.

Another way to offensively eliminate a sin or practice from our lives is with the aid of Scripture, prayer and a spiritual partner (a team member or comrade in arms). A spiritual partner is like an offensive lineman who blocks our opponent and assists us in moving forward. If we think we can beat sin without a spiritual partner, imagine a quarterback without his linemen—he’ll be sacked every time.

Finally, a key offensive strategy in winning with Christ is to be completely sold out to Him and to run with Him and train with Him daily. Jesus Christ has given us a whole set of exercises that are designed to keep us connected with Him. Read and obey His Word. Pray and converse with Him daily. Serve others and be served by them. Seek the solitude of His presence. Team up with another follower of Christ.

Remember, no one wins playing purely defensively! “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV)

 

©2014 Rob Fischer

First, Reconcile!

Jesus reveals God’s heart about our relationships with others in Matthew 5:23-24. Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (ESV)

Many of us go through life with a grudge against someone for something they did or said. We rationalize that grudge as legitimate, because “they really did do us harm.” We may “nurse” that grudge from time to time, reminding ourselves how justified we are in holding on to it.

Although this may seem harsh, I believe what Jesus is saying here is essentially this: “If we are holding a grudge against someone, we may as well not bother worshiping God.” For you see, if we’ve got a problem with one of God’s kids, we’ve got a problem with God.

With urgency Jesus says, “Whatever you’re doing—even worshiping God—drop everything else and go reconcile with your brother or sister.” Jesus clearly makes reconciliation the first priority, “First be reconciled, then come and worship.”

No one has offended us or sinned against us to the extent that you and I have offended and sinned against God, yet He has freely forgiven us in Christ. Jesus died to reconcile us to God and to others. We cannot accept the one and deny the other.

Some reading this have had unspeakable wrongs committed against them. God does not trivialize what has been done to you. Forgiving others is an act of faith and obedience coupled with God’s grace and mercy.

In extending God’s grace and mercy to others as He has extended those to us, we begin to fathom the depths of His great love for us. We get to imitate Him sharing in His redemptive work in other’s lives. What greater act of worship could there be?

©2013 Rob Fischer

We Weep

We weep and mourn with and pray for those who lost loved ones in the horrific shootings in a Newtown, CT, elementary school yesterday. Words simply fail to describe the depths of evil played out in this tragic event. Surely if there was any doubt as to our depraved condition as a people, this senseless, wicked act has confirmed that and born out our desperate need for spiritual renewal.

Please pray with me for God’s peace and comfort for those who lost their dear ones yesterday. May God wash over them with a flood of His great sorrow and compassion in their hour of distress. And pray for our country. As a people we have abandoned God, either declaring that He does not exist, or that we don’t need Him. But left to ourselves, here’s where we land. God calls us to repent—turn away from our sin (going our own way)—and turn back to Him. He beckons us, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” Put your trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin and to make your life new.

Find love and healing with your loved ones. If you are estranged from a relative or friend, talk with them and make things right. Forgive each other. Spend time with each other and enjoy one another’s company. Express love and affection for each other. After news of the shootings yesterday, I sat down on the sofa and gathered up three of my young grandchildren. I cuddled with them and read a children’s book to them simply enjoying their precious little lives. By the way, that is a picture of what God desires to do with us. Will we respond to His love or push Him away?

©2012 Rob Fischer