A pastor friend of mine has worked a lot with people coming out of addiction. He says that if they relapse into drugs or alcohol, they usually make the excuse, “I fell off the wagon.”
He then probes deeper. “Did you go back to your old haunts where you used to get drunk or high?” Yes. “Did you meet up with your friends who drink and drug?” Yes. “Did you tell anyone you were struggling with temptation and ask them to help you?” No. “Did you take enough money with you to satisfy your addiction?” Yes.
Then he tells them in no uncertain terms, “You didn’t FALL off the wagon. You JUMPED.”
These are people who know they have an addiction. They have been sober. They understand the powerful attraction that drink or drugs possess for them. Yet when temptation hit, they didn’t turn to the Lord for a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). They didn’t ask Christian friends to help them withstand the pull of addiction. Instead, they put their wallet in their pocket and returned to the streets, stores, houses, and people where they used to buy. Given that set up, the end was a foregone conclusion.
Now, take a look in the mirror – just as I am doing. We all have a problem with sin. We all know its powerful attraction. The sins you struggle with may be different than the ones I struggle with, but regardless, we all face temptation. And, yes, we all do fall into sin, likely on a daily basis. (I know I do.)
Or do we?
Are there times when, perhaps, we do not fall ... but rather, we JUMP?
Paul wrote in Romans 13:12-14, “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
“Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” In other words, don’t do the things that make it easy to sin. Don’t lay out the welcome mat for temptation. Don’t JUMP.
Let’s take three very practical examples. If we are going to “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts,” that means:
* Do not browse the magazine rack and sneak looks at the scantily-clad bodies displayed on the covers if you have a problem with lust.
* Do not shop as a recreational activity if you have a problem with greed.
* Do not take your daily coffee break with the co-worker who always knows the latest dirt if you have a problem with gossip.
But this is not solely a matter of DO NOT. There is also something we are to DO – we are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a positive, proactive, purposeful action. Using the same three examples:
* If you have a problem with lust, consider filling your eyes and mind with the beauty of God’s magnificent creation. You might engage in photography, journaling, or hiking.
* If you have a problem with greed, consider giving more of your money to charitable organizations. Not only that – think about giving your time as well as a volunteer!
* If you have a problem with gossip, consider cultivating friendships with people who always speak well of others and who enjoy talking about God.
-- What is a sin you struggle with?
-- What have you been doing that has made it easy to give in to temptation to that sin?
Fill in the blanks:
To “make no provision for the flesh” with regard to this sin, going forward, I SHOULD NOT ____________________.
To “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and conquer this sin, going forward, I SHOULD ____________________.