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Pointers along the way #292

Determined not to sin
- Jacob Ninan

When a man is born again, he gets a change of heart inside. He no longer wants to continue to sin as he used to, but he wants to stop sinning and start pleasing God. This is the result of God's seed (1Jn.3:9) beginning to grow inside him. Earlier he enjoyed sin, but now he doesn't want to. It is not that he stops falling into sin altogether, but he doesn't want to. The elderly apostle John said that this was a mark of a child of God (v.6-10). The new born Christian is of course not able to overcome all temptations or be victorious all the time because he is weak as a baby and needs to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord. God knows this very well. He wants to save us from our sins and He doesn't want us to sin, but He has made provision for us to confess our sins and receive forgiveness (1Jn.2:1,2;1:9).

One danger we face after we have come to know the doctrine of unmerited favour from God and His unlimited love and mercy is that we slowly allow ourselves to lower our guard against sin. Satan helps us in this direction by warning us (as if he is an angel of light) that we shouldn't be legalistic about the commandments of God. But when we are not "watching and praying lest we should fall into temptation" (Mt.26:41) we fall! Temptation comes unexpectedly and in subtle ways, and we are caught off guard. We may fall not only because of this, but this is one of the main reasons why we fall, and one that Jesus has specially warned us about.

A well known military saying is, "In times of peace, prepare for war." Times of peace are when training gets done, equipments are bought or refurbished, strategies are learned and tested, enemies are studied and analysed, etc. Most of us don't do this in our spiritual life. We tend to go on living just like every one else around us, and call on God only when we face a calamity. Our spiritual muscles don't get exercised, and our spiritual alertness cools down.

Let us make a distinction between severe calamities that force us to go to God and the daily temptations that trouble us in daily life. In our daily life we are tempted to tell lies, react in anger or irritation, become anxious, jealous or bitter, entertain lustful looks or thoughts, etc. Some of us may not even of think of such things as temptations to sin! We aren't going to be able to overcome such temptations if we aren't determined to. But if we are determined to fight against temptations and overcome them, then we will also get into the habit of watching and praying.

This is not just about praying. It is a whole attitude set against sin. This will lead to preparations against temptation -- getting to know God better, hearing His voice more clearly, understanding His mind and His ways better, understanding more about our own weaknesses and special tendencies towards sin, learning how others have managed to cope with temptations, etc.

We can't hope to get much further on this way if we have no time to 'spare' for such things!