Sin. It’s a problem. In the world. In you. And in me.
(Sorry to begin this devotional with such a heavy topic, but you know it’s true!)
How do we fight against it? Well, that’s a big topic too. But let me suggest something you maybe haven’t thought of before.
The most famous part of Galatians 5 is where Paul lists the “fruit of the Spirit” in verses 22-23: “love, joy, peace, forbearance [i.e. patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are some of the ways God works in and through Jesus’ disciples.
But what we often miss is what Paul wrote just before the famous fruit of the Spirit part. He has just listed the “acts of the flesh”: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (verses 19-21).
It’s serious, sinful stuff! In fact, he says that “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
It is with this in mind that he then proceeds to talk about the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit.
Here’s what I want you to remember: When we “keep in step with the Spirit” (verse 25) we are actively resisting sin with God’s help! We’re not alone in the battle. God is working in and through us. And when we cooperate with what he wants to do (by keeping in step with the Spirit and bearing those fruit), we are beating back the sin that wants to choke the abundant life God has planned for his children.
But you need to cooperate with the Spirit. A theological giant named John Owen was speaking about this very thing when he wrote, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.”* He means that if you’re not proactively resisting sin and starving it, it will grow in strength and start to starve your own well-being.
You’re right. It’s a big topic for a Wednesday. But sin is always on the move. The good news is that God is too, and he is ready and willing to help his children! — through cultivating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Be killing sin or it will be killing you.
By Matthew Ruttan
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.
–*John Owen, The Mortification of Sin in Believers (First Rate Publishers, no date given), chapter 2, section 1. First published in 1656.