Date: June 15, 2016 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar One
Have you ever thought about the sin that so easily besets you? We all make mistakes and have things that seem to trip us up over again and again and again. No matter how much we try to live for God, there just seems to be some things that every time they come around, there we go. For me, it is trying to stay on my diet. I can be doing great, having all of this wonderful self-control and I am going to be led by the Lord. Then a piece of chocolate comes along and I am gone. I especially have trouble with this at my mother-in-law's house because she is a great cook. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked to myself, and said, "Now, Betty when you go in that house, you do not need to eat all that cake. You do not need to eat all that pie. You need to stay away from that. When you get home, you are going to be really glad you did". I can give myself the best talk in the world and walk in that door and within thirty minutes it feels like I have eaten nearly everything in that house . Now, why am I like that? Why are you like the way you are? What is the sin that so easily trips you up?
The Bible says that the devil knows that a man without self-control is like a city without walls. He can take it at his will. We all have them, and it is usually that thing that God has told you, “Do not do,” and you do it anyway. Then you find yourself repenting over and over and over. Lord, if you will just get me out of this I promise I will never do it again. Then you get in the same set of circumstances and there you are again. Look at this first scripture in Hebrews 12, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us; Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and he set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
What is yours? Is it gossip? Drinking? Gambling? Cussing? Drugs? Overeating? Selfishness? What is it that catches you every time? What is it that you are not looking in the face? What are having denial about? You are saying, “I do not really have that problem.” But you do. God wants to deal with it. He wants to deal with me. He wants to deal with you. Is there any help available for it? You seem to lick all your other stubborn issues, and then that one just seems to have a way into your life. Over and over it comes back. The verse we just read in Hebrews says that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are pulling for us. You know Jesus is pulling for you. Maybe you have never turned the control of your life over to Jesus. Maybe you have been one of those people that said, “Someday I will, not now. I am not ready now.” But you never know what your day of departure from this place is. What if you miss it by one day? What if you miss it by one hour? There is always right now that God is calling you. I want to give you the opportunity right now to say, “Lord, before she goes on with another part of that lesson, I want to give my heart and my life to you. I turn the control of my life completely over to you and I ask to be forgiven of my sins, and for you to come in and save me and change me. Make me the kind of person you want me to be, Lord. I give myself to you Jesus. Amen” You know that is the greatest thing you can do.
I wish I could tell you that once you become a believer, you just sit back, let her rip and wait for Heaven to come. But no, that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about those stubborn sins, the things that you have given to the Lord and then it just comes back again. How do you keep your eyes on Jesus in that? How do you understand, in a way that is real to you, that Jesus both began and finished the race He was in, and He is there for you? The Bible says he is the author and finisher of our faith. What does that mean? Without faith, it is impossible to please God. The Bible says God gives you the gift of faith. That is the author of it. What is the finisher of it? Have you ever gotten so weary waiting on something to happen or waiting for things to change? You just continue believing God for something that never seemed to come about, you finally just lost your faith or you felt like you just got so weak. The Bible says that even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He still has faith for us. That makes Him the finisher of our faith. Jesus never lost sight of where He was headed. If you can get your mind on, “Where am I headed Lord. Where am I going with You?” It is amazing how much of this will fall off of you. These sins that just seem to bother you now, down the road, they do not bother you at all. I will give you an example. When you first come to Jesus, maybe you have bad friends. They seem to influence you in ways that you know they should not. You know they should not be in your life, but you do not seem to be able to get rid of them. You do not seem to be able to make the break with them. God can fill your heart so much with himself. Getting in a good church and being around neat people that really love God also helps. Did you know that all of the sudden they do not trip you up at all. You are not even interested in what they are doing. It is not even important to you anymore. Something that you used to think, “I cannot have fun if I do not do this.” It is possible to lay aside the sin. It says lay it aside, so what does that mean? Well, you have a package, or you take off a coat, and you lay it aside. You just lay it over here. That is what God says to you. Lay aside that sin that so easily besets you. Just pick it up and say, “Lord, I am just tired of this. I do not want this in my life anymore or even more than that you can be saying, “Lord, what I found in you is so great I did not want to be entangled with this bondage.” And the Bible calls it a yoke of bondage.
What is a yoke of bondage with this sin that has entangled you? Some of you have probably lived in a time on a farm when you had to guide mules or oxen and they had a yoke. That yoke fit that ox, but the person driving the oxen could move them, so easily. Sometimes a yoke of bondage is from the devil. He knows exactly how to pull that on you. God says just lay it all down and set your sight on where you are headed. Jesus could put up with anything along the way. The Christian life it is not all easy. If anybody tells you it is, I can tell you this, Christianity is not for sissies. That is for sure. To really live for God you have to go against the grain and especially people around you that do not believe. They think that you are crazy. Why would you build your life on something a book says? And you say this is the truth? Well I do not think is the truth. And you say, “Well I do, and I am going to walk with God and I am going to go in his race. I am going to finish the race and I am going to finish it strong.”
What all did Jesus have to lay aside? He had to lay aside the shame of dying on a cross. Look at this cross I have on. This is called a Jerusalem cross. It has a big cross, and then it has four little crosses. When I bought it in Israel they said it stands for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I do not know. The cross in Jesus time was like the electric chair. It was not something that we wear that makes us feel close to God or reminds us of Jesus. No, it was a sign of shame. The Romans crucified thousands and thousands, and maybe hundreds of thousands of people. They crucified them in such a way that anybody that saw them would be afraid, and would do what the Romans wanted done. The devil tries to do that to you, does he not? He tries to say, “If you do not do it the way I want it done, you are going to be sorry.” And what does Jesus say? He said we would have to die. Then you will live-- you will really live. That is what He did. It is said, He endured the shame. He went to the cross, for the sake of the joy that was set before Him. There is nothing sissy about dying on a cross the way Jesus did. It was very difficult. Everyone around him left him. There were just a few people at the cross. All of those people that had been shouting Hosanna when He was in the crowds and doing the great stuff, were not there at the end. Some of the people were yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”
Everybody has something that is hard for them to go through, hard for them to let go of in order to walk with God. Now, Jesus never sinned, but it says in everything he was tempted like we are. So that we do not have a high priest that does not understand what it is like to be tempted. He was tempted. Now tempted means tempted. It does not mean he encountered something. It means he could have fallen. That sin that so easily besets you. Jesus knows what it feels like. He knows the pull of that temptation. He knows the struggle. You know Jesus wept blood struggling against the temptation to not go to the cross. It was so difficult for Him that he even prayed; “Lord if there is any other way I do not want to do it.” And there was not any other way so He had to do it. But right now, where is He? He is in the place of honor alongside God, interceding for you. Have you ever thought about when Jesus intercedes for you right now? What does he say? Let us say your name is Sam, or Willy, Bob. And he goes, “Lord, Bob is having such a difficult time right now. Life is really hard. It has caved in on him and he feels like there is no place to look, no hope, and he is being tempted to go back to his old ways. God, I pray for him that he will stay strong, keep his eyes on you. His eyes are on the prize Lord. I am praying for him.”
Do you ever think about Jesus praying for you like that? Well he does, because he understands what it is like. What do you do when you find yourself flagging along? You are just doing great and then all of the sudden, it is like you ran out of gas, or you started running out of gas. What do you do then to help yourself? Well go back over that story again. You go back item by item, back through all you went through to get to where you have been recently. In the good place you have been recently. Just remind yourself, “Oh yea, I did feel like that. Oh goodness, that did happen to me. Oh wow, that was painful.” And remind yourself of what that sin is going to bring with it, because sin does not ever come by itself. The devil tries to trick you and tell us that it will not hurt. Just a little bit, just a little bit. You do not have to do it much, just a little bit. The next thing you know, you do it more and more and more, and he has tricked you.
What does God say? He says I will discipline you. Discipline is not the worst thing in the world. Even as adults, we need discipline because discipline gives you boundaries. Discipline puts walls around you and they will protect you. God says, in Hebrews, “Do not shrug off God’s discipline, but do not be crushed by it either.” You know I see people, that when the Lord disciplines them, they get a chip on their shoulder, they get bitter, they say, “Well God did this and God does that. I am not trusting God. Who cares?” And instead of responding the right way, they respond the wrong way. Here you have this stuff that comes along that is going to trip you up. God sees it and tries to help you. Then you turn your back on your help. You might say, “Well, why does God discipline people?” It very clearly says in Hebrews, “The ones He loves, He disciplines.” A good father does that. So you might say, “Lord, help me. Do something so that the next time I am tempted, I will not give in. Do something God. Sometimes you have to pray that because you know you are going to fall again. If you get there, you are going to be there again, and so Lord I need you to help me.
The trouble you can find yourself in sometimes when God answers a prayer like that is not punishment, it is training. Have you ever been through something concerning the sin that so easily besets you and find yourself saying, “That was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thank you, God.” In fact there is someone watching this show right now. You have just been through the woodshed. You think, “Oh, oh, oh, I wish this never happened to me.” But I believe the Lord is saying to you right now, “Notice I helped you. If I had not allowed this to happen, you would not be where you are today. You would be in a worse place.”
Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Responsible parents watch out, watch over. Would you really prefer an irresponsible God who just said, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I know you are doing wrong, but it is okay. You are my favorite and I do not care. First of all God cannot do that, but would you really want a God like that? Would you not want a God that says, “This sin that you trip over all the time, I am going to help you deal with it. We are going to get it out of your life. ” I remember when exaggerating was a sin that tripped me up. I would start telling a story and I would just find myself adding stuff to it. And I thought, “Well, it made a good story.” The Lord would say, “No, it is wrong. I do not want you doing it anymore Betty.” I finally realized that it realized that it really was lying. And so, I thought, “I am going to break myself of this, but Lord, how do I do it. I do not want this thing to beset me every time I get in that situation.” And you know the Lord gave me a guideline. Now it is hard, but it works. So, if you are sitting there watching this show and you are going, “Well, Betty, I am sick and tired of mine, what do I do?” I am going to tell you something to do, but it is going to be hard, but it is going to work. The next time you do it, and if it involves other people, just look them in the eye and say, I am sorry, I just lied. In other words, this is what I did with my exaggeration. Complete strangers. I said, “I am sorry I just lied. That was an exaggeration. That was not the truth. Here is what the truth was.” Well, I was humiliated, and I did not even know the people. But I thought, “I am laying this thing aside. I am sick and tired of it.” I know you only have to do that one or two times and you will stop yourself really quick because you do not want to have to keep doing that.
It pays off handsomely to be a well-trained, well-disciplined person. There is a lot of reward in it. And maybe it is not talked about. Maybe people want to talk too much about just enjoying life, and float down the river. But you want to have a maturity in God. You want to be a mature Christian. You do not want to be that baby Christian that always has to just go around with a bottle. No, you want to be a Christian that can eat that strong meat of God, someone God can count on. You want to be someone He can give assignments and know that when the sin that so easily besets you comes upon you, it is not going to happen. I know it sounds like a small thing to talk about going to my mother-in-law's and eating all that stuff, but I prayed about it so much the last few times I have gone and I really have been able to resist. You do not want anything having a hold on you.
What does the Bible say? I am going to read this out of the Message Bible. “Do not sit around on your hands. Do not drag your feet anymore. Clear the path for the people that are running beside you. Help each other out.” Have you got an accountability person? Have you got a friend, or have you got someone, maybe in authority over you, maybe a mentor. Somebody that you can go to and say, “I am struggling with this, would you pray for me,” or, “I am struggling with this, talk to me. Talk to me and encourage me. I need help.” That way you help each other along and you can overcome things.
Another thing that you have to watch out for is a sin that I see really besets people a lot. It is bitterness. And bitterness is a sin. God gives you the ability to forgive and to go on. But some people can let a root of bitterness spring up inside of them. Through hurts, what has happened and disappointment bitterness takes over their life. Talk about the sin that so easily besets you. You can almost recognize it on their faces. They do not have to say a word. You know that ninety-seven percent of what you communicate is non-verbal. You might be thinking, “Nobody knows that I struggle with that sin and that it gets me.” Oh yes they do. It shows up on your face.
Think about Esau in the Bible, in Genesis. Who was Esau? Isaac had two sons: Jacob and Esau. Unfortunately, Isaac and Rachel showed partiality to their sons. These boys were twins. Rachel liked Isaac and Jacob liked Esau better. Now, right there is the beginning of a sin. I mean that is going to cause problems somewhere along the way. Rachel said, “I am going to help you get your father’s birthright. I want you to have it.” Now that could not have happened without Esau having a sin that so easily beset him. What was it? He had a temporal value system. You know what that is? That is a value system based on what is going on right now, right here and does not think anything about eternity, eternal values. And Esau was like that. He was the firstborn so he had the right to inherit the birthright from his father. His values were so wrong. Because he just wanted what he wanted when he wanted it; he lost something terribly important: his birthright. And how did that happen? Well, he went hunting, came in hungry, probably his blood sugar was low, if we knew the truth today. But his brother had been cooking stew and he said, “Give me some of that. I want it right now.” “So give me your birthright.” He said, "What good will that do me now? Sure, give me some soup.” That was the beginning of the downfall. And in no time, he had lost everything. He traded away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. That is what happens with that sin that so easily besets you. You know Esau regretted that. In fact, it set up so much anger between those two boys it took a long time for that to work out. You have to understand that called Esau ungodly in the Bible. God knew he had those wrong motives, those wrong priorities.
It is not like we serve a hard God. We serve a loving God, a good God. But he has parameters. He has boundaries. God will not tell you to stay away from a sin and not to do it unless it is something that is really going to hurt you. He is not doing it to ruin your party or rain on your parade. That is not God at all. No. But remember in Galatians 5, one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. And you say, “No, wait a minute. I thought that was talking about how the Holy Spirit controls our life.” It is, when He controls your life. He cannot make you be a robot, but He can talk to you and say, “Let me control you in this situation, and you will be able to control yourself.”
Sins that trip you up are common to all. Get an accountability person. Know what God’s word says about your specific thing that trips you up. Pray to be delivered and ask God to clean the root out. Clean the cause of it out. Kill the root. Get rid of it God. And what will you have as a result. Well, you will have a great feeling of satisfaction that you have seen yourself be tempted, just like Jesus was and just like Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of your faith, you stood strong. And God is proud of you. So, hang in there. You can do it and God will help you.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Define what the following terms mean: self-control, lay aside, yoke of bondage and accountability partner.
2. How is God the author and finisher of our faith?
3. Once you have identified the sin that so easily besets you, what steps could you take to break the pattern of giving in to the temptation?
4. Have you committed your life to Jesus? Here is the prayer you can pray:
Lord, I want to give my heart and my life to you. I turn the control of my life completely over to you. I ask to be forgiven of my sins and for you to come in and save me and change me. Make me the kind of person you want me to be, Lord. I give myself to you Jesus. Amen.
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Topics: Basic Discipleship