Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Holiness Requires Putting Off Sin

Today, I continue this series of posts related to my message on cultivating holiness, drawn from Romans 13:11-14:
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV)
I have shared that holiness requires urgency, and that it requires starving our flesh. Here’s a third point:

Holiness requires putting off sin.

That’s what verse 12 urges us to do. It reasons that, since the night is far gone, since the day is at hand... "let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light." Verse 13 gets more specific about the works of darkness. It says, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy."

The works of darkness are the opposite of godly behavior. John Stott sums up the list by describing it as "a lack of self-control in the areas of drink, sex and social relationships."

God says, don’t escape into alcohol and partying to solve your problems. Don’t try to find meaning in immoral sex or in living for sexual pleasure. Don’t ruin your relationships by fighting and destroying others to get what you want.

He calls us to cast off this sinful behavior. To throw it away. This is what real repentance is all about. It’s putting off sin--casting it off, throwing it away. We're called to drastic action.

Many times, when we find an area of sin in our lives, we don’t trash it. Instead, we file it away. Instead of throwing it away--really getting it out of our lives--we just relocate it to another drawer, as it were. We shuffle it out of sight for a little while. We don’t cultivate real conviction, we don’t mourn over it, we don’t hate it. We just hide it until our conviction passes.

Casting off sin means to totally reject it--to change your lifestyle so that it’s no longer an option. Where is God calling you to cast off sin? Is there an area in which you continue to stumble over and over again? Is there a particular sin you keep coming back to again and again? What radical action could you take to throw this sin out of your life for good? How can you make a decisive break with it?

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