We all have cravings. Things that our hearts long for. They could almost drive you sick. You die to do them. You identify with me?
These longings could be sinful or not. They range from cravings of food, the desire to know God, sexual desires among others. Let’s talk a little bit more about the sinful longings which are born of the flesh, which is at constant war with the spirit.
The flesh is cunning. You could be born again, spirit-filled and going to heaven vertically with no horizontal attachment but still the flesh will fail you, if you obey its demands. Not even the strongest of Christians can deliver themselves from the arm of flesh.
So you are this born again soul who desires to walk in obedience but the bait of sin won’t allow you to have a smooth swim in the ocean of forgiveness. Sometimes you evade it successfully. Other times the lure is too much and you give in. Only to find that the bait was held on a hook and after biting it you get trapped. You now have to follow the course that the hook holder (the devil) takes.
You’ve had many complain that initiation into sin wasn’t as difficult as departure from it. There’s something about sin. It crouches at everyone’s door and desires to have us. (Genesis 4:7b) Once it’s gotten just a foothold in you it builds and empire. In the same verse the Bible says that we should master it.
1 Thessalonians 4: 4-5
…that each of one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honour, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…
Chapter four of this portion of scripture mainly talks about sexual immorality and abstinence from it. (You can read the chapter on your own) We could draw some lessons from the two verses above.
1. Controlling our bodies
This does not mean that there is absence of lustful desires and passions. It means that when they come, we are not to give in or get trapped in them. We are not to wilfully or unconsciously submit. That’s why we have a fruit called self-control. We are to take charge and control our bodies!
2. In holiness and honour
Sin is indisputably ugly. It brings dishonour and shame to the victim. It strips off moral authority from anyone caught in it. We are therefore to choose holiness and honour. We are to control our bodies in holiness and honour!
3. Not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God
Lustful passion is very passionate! The zeal with which people sin against God is sometimes mind blowing. It looks insatiable. They invent new ways of sinning every other day. It’s because they are controlled by lustful passions.
It shall not be so with us who belong to the fold of Jesus’ sheep! We are not to let our bodies be controlled by the passion of lust. This is the distinguishing factor between those who know God and those who don’t. We control our bodies in holiness and honour and they submit to lustful passions.
Kill sin or it will kill you
I came across a quote by John Owen in the past week and it sent me into deep thoughts.
Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.
The quest to hold honour above passion requires soberness, radicalness and vigilance. We can’t live oblivious of the fact that every moment could be a golden opportunity for sin to have us, since it crouches at our doors.
John Owen asks an important question, do you mortify it? May be we need a definition of the word mortify. It is subduing the body, its needs and desires by self-denial or discipline. I leave you to answer yourself the question… He goes ahead to ask whether you’ve made it your daily work, whether you are at it for as long as you live and whether you do not cease from doing this work even for a day. The work of killing sin.
Sin can be perceived from afar, I believe. In most of the situations we know when it is coming. It begins in the mind before eventually manifesting as an action. It is therefore possible to stop it while it is still a thought. Kill sin or it will kill you!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, is there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (In a literal way) Philippians 4:8