"I don't understand what I'm doing wrong; I'm casting the calories out of my desserts but I've still gained 10 pounds!" (4.5kg) "John, I just want you to pray for me so the devil will never again tempt me with sex."
These 2 people wanted to avoid personal discipline and accountability by spiritualizing their issues. Jesus took away the sin of the world, so we shouldn't we be empowered to control various appetites?
Key #1 - Dealing with the pleasure of sin
For me, I learned long ago to confront temptation with the fact I love the fellowship of the Holy Spirit I feel in my spirit more than I love sin - so I focus on essentially, "Why should I do or say that sin when it would disrupt the sweet presence of God I feel in my spirit?" When I do that, turn my attention away from the temptation and onto my love for Him, the allure of the sin is instantly removed. I value my fellowship with Him much more than I value a momentary pleasure of sin.
Every person who has initially come to me for help with an habitual sin, as best as I can recall over these 40+ years of walking with Him, had never to that point been confronted with the fact they enjoyed the sin - which is the human condition - we love the sin.
They've wanted demons cast out, practical tips on not setting themselves up for sinning, and prayer to be strong - but had never thought about the key to it all - dealing with the pleasure of sin and what do you love more - the fellowship of the Spirit or the feeling that sin provides?
Hebrews 11:25-26 reveals Moses chose his path based on his love of God more than his love of the sins of Egypt. That is the heart issue each of us has to deal with - acknowledge the love of the pleasure x sin gives, then decide to crucify that love by making the choice to focus on our love of God when confronted with sin.
This point #1 is a heart battle that can take years, or merely a moment in time. A person must search down inside themselves with honesty, and down in that space, bring up how much they love the Lord, the fellowship of the Spirit, and think through how sin is a temporary high at best. Once a person settles their love of the Lord deep in their heart, sin will lose its appeal. Wrestling with the love of sin can take years.
Key #2 - Replace don't just stop
When John the Baptist was baptizing people he didn't tell them just to repent of sin, but to replace that sin with a righteous act*. Most of traditional Christian culture just says stop sinning, which isn't fully scriptural - the truth is to stop sinning and then replace it with something righteous. *Luke 3:11-14
Replacing one act with another is a redirection of thoughts and actions. If the computer is your gateway to sin then before sliding into that sin, get up and go do something else. Replace one action with another. If you open your mouth to exalt yourself above another or to plant gossip or seeds of strife, instead say something nice about the person. Replace sinful words with words of grace.
Key #3 - Don't think about how to do it
Christians in Paul's day were just like us. His advice was to settle in your heart that you love the fellowship of the Spirit more than you love the sin. Romans 13:14:
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." Romans 13:14
The phrase 'put on' (the Lord Jesus Christ) is the word 'enduo' where we get 'endue'. Endue means to invest in, to empower, to provide a quality or authority in a person. We are endued with power in Christ but when confronted with sin, we must make a decision to walk in that - to 'put on' or empower ourselves in Christ.
The phrase 'make not provision' is the Greek word 'pronoia' which is made up of 'pro' (before) and 'noia' (to think). Paul is literally saying "Make a conscious choice to be empowered with the Lord Jesus Christ and don't think ahead of time how you will fulfill the lusts of the flesh."
These 2 elements - empowering ourselves in the Lord rather than thinking ahead of time how we will sin, can only be done through fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ - not a cold principle, but a focus on talking with Him and fellowship with and worshipping Him when tempted.
Redirect your thoughts to plans of something else rather than plans of how to sin. Replace one set of thoughts with another set of thoughts, replace your focus from the sin onto Him. Center on your love of Him.
Trend is to co-exist with the sin, to rely on grace
When a person wrestles with his or her love of the pleasure of sin, which can takes decades, there is often a delicate 'demilitarized zone' established that results in an outward and true Christian life with a little sliver of sin kept back for oneself to enjoy now and then, in a hidden-to-the-eyes of man balancing act that isn't so hidden from public view nowadays.
All around us we have headline examples in the Christian world of believers 'coming out' with this or that lifestyle of sin, in what is in reality a revelation they've declared a demilitarized zone concerning their sin, they are tired of fighting it, so they've decided they are just going to live with it and let the world know. To me the issue isn't a sin issue, but a love of God issue, a lack of revelation with Him issue.
#4 - Walk in the Spirit
Co-existing with habitual sin isn't an option the NT presents, and Paul simply says "If you walk in the Spirit you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh."*
For all the formulas out there, for all the positive confessions, for all the material on spiritual warfare and inner healing, Paul says simply to walk in the Spirit and if we do that, we won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh. That's what Moses did, and he did so because he resisted sin from choice of fact; that he loved God more.
Paul lists some of the works of the flesh, which is often in our day called demonic, as our culture tends to blame the flesh's desires as demonic - but Paul says the root is not demonic, but merely the flesh (demons can become involved, but the root is the flesh):
"Adultery (sexual imagination), fornication (act of sex outside of marriage), lasciviousness (absence of restraint, indecency), uncleanness (sexually perverted, morally unclean), idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance (cut in two, purposeful strife), emulations (jealousy, exalting oneself over others), wrath (explosive anger), strife, seditions (standing apart from others in strife), heresies (self-willed opinion which refuses to acknowledge or submit to the truth of a matter), envy, murders, drunkenness, revelings (drunkedness, carousing around) * Galatians 5:18-21
If we rebuke say, a demon of adultery without dealing with the sexual imaginations that originate in our own flesh, we'll never gain victory. Deal with the love of God and the love of sin as per #1 above, and then any demonic influence in the flesh will find no place and soon go off looking for someone else to tempt.
And the way to counter these sins is what he said before listing them: If you walk in the Spirit you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
When I wake up the first thing I think/pray is "Morning Father, do you have anyone you'd like me to pray for?" Then I lay in bed for a few minutes praying quietly in my spirit as names flow through my mind, trusting as I pray in tongues He is providing the content of those languages according to His will. I love the fellowship with the Father, feeling the Spirit of God within - such peace, such assurance. I'm not perfect by any means, but I've tried to show in this series that Jesus took away the sin of the world, and then gave us the Holy Spirit so we could focus on our love for God, and fellowship out of that love in a normal conversational relationship.
New subject next week, blessings,Ca