That Guy Over There Paid For It

“If you are driving down the street and notice a sexy woman, that is not sin. If you circle the block to get another look at her it is.” A mature Christian man shared this with me 20 years ago and helped me to understand what sin is.

There is a lot of temptation out there, being exposed to it does not constitute sin.  When we ponder it, mull it over, fantasize about it and engage in it we have crossed the line. This can apply to sexual temptation or the desire to lob hand grenades at drivers on the freeway.

We have many chances to consider such things. The battlefield is in the mind first. I have often had imaginary arguments in my mind as I consider how I will tell someone off. I actually create a problem that may not even be there or I might feed a tiny thing and make it giant. This could be the enemy offering me a spirit of offence, or lust or fear. I can choose not to accept or I can snatch it up and run with it, feed it, obsess over it, run through it in my mind. It becomes like Gollum’s “precious” thing.

In Matthew 5:28 Jesus said, “…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Now that’s harsh. It also then stands to reason that if I’ve given my boss a mighty Chuck Norris blow to the solar plexus (in my mind) then I’ve crossed the line. Seriously? How can anyone live up to those standards?

None of us can live up to those standards, this is where Jesus comes in. To be perfectly holy is not within us. If we are saved, we are a new man but we still live in the flesh. The apostle Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”(Romans 7:15) He further explains, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. That a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Spend a few minutes with Romans 7:7-25)

This is not your average knucklehead struggling with this, Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He is a rock star of the Bible. Elsewhere Paul asked God to remove a problem he was struggling with; God said no, “My grace is sufficient.”

Brothers, if you are already a Christian, there is no better news than this. He knows we are not perfect and our sin has been paid for. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1,2) That would not reflect being a man after God’s own heart. God knows our motivation, our heart. He may be the only one who this matters to, but there is no one more important.

The cross was God’s grace to us and it is sufficient. When Jesus died on the cross all our sin was in the future, yet it was all covered. Our sin, all of it, is covered by the blood. If we have accepted Christ we are in right standing with God, justified, righteous, He and we are good. Thank you Jesus. As we move forward our part is to confess our sin and keep our eyes on Him, keep our focus in the right place, “abide in the vine”.  As we falter, and we do, confess, repent, move forward. Repeat as necessary.  Don’t carry the weight. Don’t beat yourself up. Confess, repent, move forward. Provision has been made for our infinite shortcomings. That’s good news.

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