MATTHEW 22:34-38: But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”
Let’s turn today’s theme into a personal question, “What are the greatest deterrents in your life keeping you from surrendering in the fight to defeat temptation and thus avoid sinning against God?” Right now, do a quick inventory in our walks with the Lord and determine what drives and motivates us to fight with all our being, all the time, to defeat temptation and not sin. But that inventory makes an assumption. It assumes we are fighting hard, constantly, against the forces of our flesh, devil, and world that pulls us to commit God-dishonoring sin. Charles Spurgeon once said, “When you sleep, think that you are resting on the battlefield; when you wake, suspect an ambush in every hedge.” An equally appropriate word about the continual, never-ceasing war we fight against sin in this life comes from Jonathan Edwards, “God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest, wherein we shall be so out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world.”
So, what is the answer to today’s theme, the greatest deterrents against sin?” It is the word “love” with two applications. But we must begin with understanding Christianity is a living relationship with God based on two proper foundations.
First, the foundation of understanding God’s purpose in salvation. It is not to take away His wrath from us or give us heaven. Praise the Lord for those, but salvation is foremost about us being reconciled with God to walk with Him in holiness and love. We read this in the opening chapter of Ephesians – Even as He (God the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in love (Ephesians 1:4). To defeat sin, we must see the purpose of salvation is to eventually become sinless in heaven while learning and striving to sin-less in this life.
The second foundation to rest our lives on toward defeating sin is to remember and live under the umbrella of the chief quality of God’s essence – holiness. Everything about Him is holy. Everything from Him is holy. The opposite of holiness is sinfulness. Unless we see the nature of God in the brilliance of His holiness, we cannot see the dark and heinous nature of sin. And when light views of sin occur, light views of God’s holiness are already occurring and the motive to not sin out of love for His holy Person is gone.
So, the greatest deterrents against sin are a love to see the irrational nature of allowing something contrary to the purpose of our salvation to be in our lives. And the grieving of the heart of God who is love; holy love. It is these two, and only those two, which will sustain us in the warfare of defeating temptation to sin.
PRAYER: “Father, let Your love empower my love for You to keep me from toying with temptation and avoid sin.”
QUOTE: “The greatest deterrents to sin are love to God embracing the purpose of salvation and His Holy Person.”