Waging war against sin
We don't like to talk about sin very often. It makes us feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. It makes us feel ashamed and unworthy. Unfortunately, not talking about it doesn't make the sin go away. Every day, to varying degrees, we deal with sin in our lives. It is inescapable.
In fact, the Bible says that if we claim to be without sin, we are making God a liar (1 John 1:8;10). God's opinion is that we do have sin in our lives, so if we claim that we do not, we are disagreeing with God's assessment of the situation. Let's be honest with ourselves and with one another, we do have sin. We need to be aware of it, repent of it, and wage war against our sin.
Fighting our sin is important, not because we need God's approval, but because God loves us and our sin undermines our relationship with him and the good he wants for our lives. Sin is parasitic, it wreaks havoc on our souls and on our life. The gospel of Jesus is what saves us, not our ability to successfully put to death any particular sin. It is out of our new life in Christ that we pursue freedom from sin.
An important strategy for fighting sin is building the right fences to keep sin out. When my wife and I were looking to buy a house a couple years ago, one of the items on our list was a fenced in back yard. We have small children, and we wanted them to be able to play outside without needing to worry about them running out to the road. Our fence keeps the children in and danger out.
We can also build fences that help to keep us safe inside and our sin outside. I have had multiple conversations in the last couple weeks about the specific area of sexual sin. Whether it be lust, pornography, adultery or other behaviors associated with sexual sin, this can be a very destructive sin if we allow it to take root in our lives. But it is far from being the only sin we have to deal with. We may sin through our anger, pride, stealing, lashing out with our tongue, materialism, etc. Whatever the sin may be, we need to set up boundaries that will help free us from the sin.
If you struggle with pornography, a helpful fence post may be installing monitoring software on your computer - Covenant Eyes and X3 Watch are great options. If you struggle with materialism, you may need to cancel your subscription to certain magazines that fuel that sin. If you struggle with comparison, you may need to take a break from social media. If you struggle with anger, you may need to add counseling to your life.
These fences are meant to create a safe space for you to grow and develop. The boundaries you create will not stop sin on their own, but they can help give you the freedom needed to fight the sin in your life. What boundaries or fence posts do you need to incorporate into your life?
Giving our spirit the safety to grow
Growing up, my grandfather was a farmer. I remember him growing a small plot of sweet corn each year so that we could enjoy a feast of corn on the cob in the fall. He had a problem though. The deer would come and help themselves to a little sweet corn as well. It was tasty, so why wouldn't they want some? The problem was that the corn could not grow strong and healthy under the constant burden of the deer's meals. So, my grandpa but an electric fence around the corn to keep the deer out.
The fence around that small plot of land allowed my grandfather's corn the freedom to grow strong and healthy. Eventually the corn stocks would grow enough to sustain us taking the mature cobs, without hindering its ability to continue growing the cobs that remained.
We bought a house with a fence to keep my children inside and the danger outside. My son has now grown old enough to crawl up the fence, reach over top, and release the gate. We even let him ride his bike up and down the alley way if we are outside and able to watch. The fence kept him safe for a season, so that he could eventually stretch his wings and expand his boundaries.
In our own lives, building fences helps to keep us safe from sin, allowing us the space to grow and mature. It allows us to deal with the deeper issues that fuel our sin. Building fences is not just about keeping the sin out, but also about giving us space to grow. As we grow and mature, some of the fence posts may be able come down, but that doesn't mean we run back to our sin. My son rides his bike down the alleyway, I ride mine on streets and bike lanes, but it would be foolish for anyone to ride it down the middle of the freeway. No matter how much we mature, we still need to be wise and continue to fight our sin. Building some fences enables us the freedom to grow.
Dealing with the deeper sin
Without the space to adequately develop this idea, I want to touch on it momentarily. As we begin to fight our sin, we must recognize that there are deeper sin issues that reside beneath the surface. Our sinful behaviors are the product of deeper sins that must also be dealt with. If we only ever deal with the behavior, but not the sin that has produced those behaviors, we have not adequately fought our sin.
You may see victory over a behavior, but the deeper sins, if not dealt with, will manifest themselves in other ways. Your desire for material things may have their deeper root in a need for security, approval or pride. Looking at pornography may have a deeper root in the need for significance, relationship or fulfillment. Even if you stop buying things or no longer look at porn, if you have not dealt with those deeper needs and the sinful thoughts that accompany them, they will find their way out into other behaviors. As you fight your sin, from the safety of your fences, don't just deal with the surface behavior, deal with the deeper sin as well.