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Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Temptations

While we were sitting in church yesterday Chad was rounding out a 6 sermon teaching on the reality that all Christians are justified before God, by faith in God, and faith alone. These last two weeks have hit me hard and I have been repeatedly convicted of sin. I was astonished that I felt so convicted when the whole point Chad made in these two sermons revolved around God's gracious outpouring of mercy upon those who simply believe in Him - and by believing, trust in Him. Even more humbling to me is the reality of Ephesians 2:8-9, that faith is a gift from God. It amazes me how an undeserved mercy and/or kindness strips me of pride and reveals the true state of my wicked heart. You can listen to either of Chad's sermons by following this link and clicking on "Resources" then "Sermons". As I was listening to Chad preach I read ahead until I came across the verses below.

Romans 6: 12-14 "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."

Do I want to be an instrtument of righteousness in the hands of God? Do I find freedom from sin in the gracious gift of God's son Jesus Christ? I must be honest, there are times when I feel overwhelmed by my failings, my selfishness, and my prideful attempts to justify my behavior. At those times it is important for me to clarify this lost feeling of helplessness: is it a healthy feeling of conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit, leading me towards true repentence; or is it the sinister temptation to not trust in the immensity of God's overwhelming mercy and grace?

In this wild and crazy holiday season of fellowship, traveling, giving, and receiving, there are many opportunities for temptations and it can often be difficult to keep a proper perspective on the reason for all of the celebration. Throughout this season I often struggle to maintain a good attitude, to be thankful and content, patient and kind. I often covet and lust after other things, or justify my behavior or focus on others faults while ignoring my own. However, this is all wrong behavior and only serves to tighten the shakles of sin and slavery in my heart.

Thankfully, God has given us armor to protect against temptations and a sword of truth to counterattack. In light of Psalms 119:9-11, which teaches us that we should combat sin through the memorization of scripture, I felt compelled to begin memorizing Romans 6:12-14. The process is still ongoing, but I have been thankful to see God's grace extended towards me through Chad's preaching, the Holy Spirits conviction, God's Word, and the encouragement found in the Christmas season. For truly truly God is love...

John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

1 John 4:9-11 "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

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