Friday, January 23, 2015

Working against the clock

I recently read (in one night because it's small) Killing Sin Habits: Conquering Sin with Radical Faith by Stuart Scott. The basic premise of the book is explicit in its title: faith, when applied correctly, can greatly help the believer in his fight against sin.

At the start of the book, Scott introduces a simple illustration to explain the typical Christian struggle with sin. His illustration is so painfully accurate that it was difficult to read as I thought about how I fit right into the unfortunate mold. 

Here's the illustration, a clock:

Here's the breakdown of what each point on the clock means:

      1. Temptation: Satan approaches, tells the lie, "It's worth it."

      2. Feeble struggle: A meager attempt is made to resist or distance ourselves from the opportunity.

      3. Rationalization: Excuses or lies that validate our sinful choice come to mind.

  •  "I am not hurting anyone else."
  • "It's not that big of a deal; God understands."
  • "This sin is better than..."
  • "I will give it up next time; this will be the last time."
  • This is an exception because of my circumstances."
  • "I want and deserve some comfort/peace/pleasure."
  • "I have no other choice."
  • "It is a need."
  • "I have already failed in my mind or heart, so..."
      4. Unholy surrender: The "I just can't win" thoughts set in; "Surely God will forgive me."

      5. Sin is carried out: Sin is yielded to, comfort and satisfaction is sought in those actions.

      6. Momentary relief: An immediate payoff is felt, the passing pleasure of sin.

      7. Sorrow and shame: "I can't believe I did that again!"

      8. Confession to God delayed: Believing God cannot be faced, repentance is postponed.

      9. A type of confession: After time passes, it is felt that God can be talked to again.

      10. Provisions for the flesh not eliminated: Drastic measures are not taken to avoid temptation.

      11. No outside help sought: Sin kept private; decision is made to fight alone so no one will know.

      12. Time passes: The perfect set-up is in place to sin again because everything remains the same.  

Tell me you can't relate to that!

So as the book goes on, Scott speaks to the importance of addressing the very first domino that starts the chain reaction toward sin: temptation. His thesis is that, in order to fight against sin, we don't necessarily have to figure out what is happening, but rather figure out what is missing

My pastor has spoken to this point several times, using the analogy of a sports car. "Don't think of a candy apple red Ford Mustang," he says. "Don't think about it. Don't think about its shiny paint. Don't think about its engine. Don't think about the smell of the leather interior." 

What are you thinking about now? 

Just as the idea of not thinking about a red sports car doesn't help us stop thinking about a red sports car, the idea of not thinking about sin won't help us. Instead of commanding us to avoid every evil thought we might have, the Bible says,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

Scott agrees with this idea when he says, "It is virtually impossible to serve the flesh at the same time that you are, in dependence, having a God and others focus, or while letting the Word of God 'dwell richly within you' with thankfulness," (p. 30). Instead of focusing on getting bad thoughts out, put good thoughts in!

The author explained the foundations of this concept earlier on in the book:

"We are sinning when we do not choose to exercise our faith in times of temptation, and that is the beginning and the furtherance of our downfall. Ask God to help you to grow in your faith. Ask Him to make you aware of times when you need to turn to Him in faith. Ask Him to strengthen your faith, as you seek to exercise it. Have faith to believe He will because He has declared Himself to be the rewarder of those who truly seek Him and His way (Hebrews 11:6). Exercising your faith means that belief, thankfulness, dependence, and/or confidence concerning the realities of Christ and the Gospel are present. The simple prayer that begins, 'Lord I thank you that...' can refocus us with a faith and make a huge difference at critical times," (p. 20).  

And this is the heart of the book's subtitle: Conquering Sin with Radical Faith. Faith is what keeps us strong in the moment of temptation. It's what God's Spirit stirs in us to strengthen and encourage us. Reminding ourselves of Scripture will build up our faith. In fact, Ephesians 6 says, "take up...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," (v. 17). Faith in God's Word allows us to fight off evil. That is real faith.

This is a great booklet. It's 75 pages in total and you can find it on Amazon for as low as $3.95.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article. Heard this illustration in a sermon this morning. It really helps me to understand.