I’ll be honest, I struggled with the title of this section. “The Cure” seemed inadequate and frankly, a bit optimistic. I don’t know about you, but I constantly struggle with temptation and sin. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t, in fact. So is it a bit too far to talk about a cure? I don’t think so.
First and foremost, let’s be clear at the outset about one very important fact. All the willpower in the world is not the cure for sin. Well-meaning behavior modification isn’t a cure for sin. Rigid rules and regulations aren't a cure for sin. The only sure-fire cure for this brokenness we all possess is Jesus. The new birth, a new nature to fight with the old in this jar of clay we call our flesh. On the cross Jesus completely defeated death, the grave, and sin. Our problem is we still live in a fallen world, wandering around in broken cisterns bent on self-indulgence. What, then, is one to do?
If I had more time and space, I would first discuss our need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and such, but space is limited so I will be a bit more pragmatic in this article.
Though both our church and world culture often view sin as an outward thing born of circumstances and situations easily controlled by physical and mental isolation, or by building enough walls around one’s heart as to never fall into the devil’s traps, we have learned the true source of our sin lies within our own hearts; our own desires. While external safeguards are extremely important and even effective to some degree, what we really and truly need is an inside out approach to sin since its process begins as an inside out transgression.
Look at Romans 12:1-2:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Here, Paul makes an appeal. You know what an appeal is. He is asking with passion. Not only is he asking with passion, but he is almost begging, “by the mercies of God” for us to act. This little phrase “by the mercies of God” is important. These mercies are the basis for his appeal, his urging. Since God has been so merciful to us in forgiving our sins, our proper response is to be transformed. The word used reminds us in English of metamorphosis, a change from the inside out, and a complete one at that. Paul wants us to be completely changed, but he also gives us some guidance on how that is to be done.
There is initially a three step process to dealing with sin outlined by Paul in this text.
Step 1: Present your bodies. Present them as a living sacrifice. Jesus didn’t call us to great wealth, exaltation, and triumph in the earthly sense. Instead He called us to join Him in His death, to take up our cross, an instrument of sacrifice, discomfort, and death and follow Him in the journey to being transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Step 2: Do not conform to this world. I know of no one who wants to be labeled as weird or different, but this is in fact the very thing we are supposed to be in this world; different. Scripture would call us peculiar. One way to put it would be to say, “stop being like everyone else. Stop thinking and acting like this world tells you to. Stop yielding to the temptations of this life.”
Step 3: Transform your mind … maybe I should better say, let Him transform your mind. Renew it. Make it think differently. If sin is ultimately born of our own desires and lusts of flesh, then it stands to reason that the cure is to change those desires.
If you have ever done laundry for an active little boy, you will understand this, if not, then just bare with me. One of the most grotesque things I can think of is to reach down into a wrong-side-out dirty sock that has been worn outside during summer by a little boy who plays in the mud, climbs trees, and splashes in puddles. There are things in there the CDC hasn’t identified yet because he left that sock rolled up in a tight little wod in the bottom of the hamper … from four days ago. It wreaks, its gritty, and rolling that thing out is plain nasty. However, if you want it to get clean, you must do the work of getting that succer turned right-side out. You may have to shake out some dirt, rocks, or other foreign bodies, but the end result is worth it.
This is how we need to approach our minds. We need to get down in there and turn these broken pots of debauchery inside out and renew them by the Word of His Power. We need fresh wineskins to hold the new wine of His Spirit. Simply put, we need our desires to change. The things we want need to be different, they need to be what He wants. Period.
Then, as our hearts begin to change, our minds are renewed by His Spirit and the Word, then and only then can we feel safe in acting without sinning. Only then can we even properly pursue holiness and not the risk of self-righteousness. We need new minds, new desires to stand up under the opportunities Satan will throw our way.
Psalm 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The renewal of our minds starts with the filling of the Spirit and Father putting a new heart in us, recreating this old creature into a new and lovely one. Our part is in taming this fleshly packaging through His Word. Reading, studying, memorizing the scriptures will guard the fleshly human heart against all manner of disobedience, against all manner of indulgence of opportunity.
May He renew our minds and hearts today and slay this twisted offspring of our desire; sin and death.