What are your Thorns?

IMGIf we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10 (KJV)

This passage addresses sin head on. It tells us plainly that those who say they are not presently sinners are liars and those who claim they haven’t sinned in the past make God a liar. I must lay the blame for this horrible “sinner no more” doctrine at the feet of the Great Whore; the apostate church. However ultimately it is us who choose whether or not to believe it. I remind you that in Paul makes it clear as crystal that he is presently a sinner:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)

Notice what John both says and doesn’t say here. He doesn’t say confess your sins to God and He will make you an ex-sinner, but that God will forgive our sins whenever we come and ask (Hebrews 4:16 KJV). We are sinners, period, however if we confess our sins Christ will forgive them and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To ask Christ to forgive our sins is an act of faith, and that faith is counted as righteousness, and as a result righteousness is imputed to us.

At this point I must make my usual reminder and state unequivocally what should be painfully obvious; the fact that we are inherently sinners is not a license to sin. We cannot just shrug our shoulders before God and say “Oh, well, I’m a sinner so I will just do what comes naturally to me. That’s what the world teaches; that we are no more than mere animals and therefore utterly incapable of controlling our fleshly lusts.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (KJV)

When we sin we must sincerely confess, but is that all we must do? To obtain forgiveness yes, however do we not have a responsibility before God to seek Him for the cause of this sin so that we not stumble in this area again? As I have stated previously it is my strong personal opinion that the ‘messenger of Satan’ that Paul struggled with caused him to stumble more than once in an area of his life. From the text we can surmise that it was pride that was his stumbling block, what’s yours?

It is okay to make a mistake, however we must make the effort to avoiding making the same ones over and over. Paul by example showed us that we must seek God for the solution. I have so many areas of my life where God has given me victory, yet I have others where a lot of work still needs to be done. Yet my flesh doesn’t like correction or discomfort. It wants me to ‘rest on my laurels’ and indulge my own pet sins, but I know better. This sin nature inside us is so ugly that it is easy to relate to Paul when he agonizes over what a wretched man he is (Romans 7:24 KJV).

Once we have sought Christ on the cause of our besetting sin as Paul did and get an answer we must determine in our hearts to overcome in this area. How?

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
Zechariah 4:6 (KJV)

How do we overcome? Not through our own efforts but through the spirit of God in us. Believe me, I have tried my very best to stop sinning through my own efforts and failed miserably. Go ahead and try if you need to, that is the only way you will discover that what I’m saying is true. We simply cannot stop sinning on our own. Only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit living in us will we overcome sin.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Galatians 6:8 (KJV)

Which do we feed; our flesh or the spirit? We must feed the Spirit in us through fasting, prayer and bible reading. Fasting is important because it both figuratively and literally starves the flesh. We must fill ourselves with the Word of God and talk to Him constantly. We must identify our problem areas and make the effort not to indulge them.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 Corinthians 9:27 (KJV)

At the same time we must starve our flesh, even now God has been showing me that when my flesh is suffering I get lax in my discipline of it. The world spends way too much time appeasing the flesh and sadly most Christians are doing the same. Our flesh is like a spoiled brat that always wants its way. This is in fact the purpose of the parents disciplining their kids; to teach them to control their own flesh.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12:6 (KJV)

If your parents never properly disciplined you learning this lesson is going to be all the more difficult when your Heavenly Father is doing it for the first time. But rest assured it is always done out of love and for our own good by our Heavenly Father.

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