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Growing into maturity
- Jacob Ninan
The Bible says that there is a process involved in sinning. First we are tempted in the form of a suggestion that is presented to us, mostly as a thought in our mind or directly from people. If we recognise this as a temptation to do wrong and then reject it, we have gained victory! But if we yield to that temptation and act according to it, we sin. After that we can't help but suffer the consequences of that sin (Jas.1:14,15;Ga.6:7,8).
This is easy to understand when temptation is about some external action such as telling a lie. But sin can even take place in our thoughts, such as holding on to anger, bitterness, jealousy, greed, lust, etc., which may not result in a wrong action immediately. In such cases sin is to continue with such thoughts or attitudes without rejecting them.
Ideally when we are tempted we should have the time and the opportunity to think about what is happening and to take the correct decision to reject sin. In many cases we do get such opportunities. But in many other cases it seems that our response to temptation is spontaneous, and we end up doing things we normally wouldn't have liked to do. We don't seem to get the time we need to think and respond. We feel as if we are not responsible for what we have done, even though it is we who did them! (Ro.7:15,17).
A part of the reason is that we have been born in sin, with a slant towards sin right from birth (Ps.51:5). We start telling lies even as a toddler without anyone teaching us! The strong selfishness in us is seen even as babies! We really need to be born again to inherit the nature of God (Jn.3:3,5). When that happens, God begins to write His laws upon our heart and mind (Je.31:33), and He continues to do that more and more as long as we grow in Him.
The other reason is that we have learned many wrong ways from our childhood onwards from the people around us and also by our ignorant and foolish reactions to situations. We didn't have much sense when we were children, and we have simply picked up whatever we saw other people doing and also learned how we could get others to do things for us. Even as adults we may have built up wrong behaviour patterns which now hold us captive. All our past experiences are there in our mind, and it is no wonder that our spontaneous response to situations is based on such past experiences rather than what we know now we should do.
The Bible tells us to be renewed in our minds. That is what will take us towards what is mature and perfect (Ro.12:2;Ep.4:23). When we learn God's ways through His word and fellowship with His children, and change our behaviour according to God's word (Mt.7:24,25), our mind will acquire new values and patterns over a period of time and our spontaneous responses in temptations will also become new.