Friday, June 27, 2008

Overcoming Habitual Sin: How to be free from Bondage

There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their bands apart. (Psalm 107:10-14)

What is an Habitual Sin, What is Bondage to Sin?
  • A specific, nameable thing that presents itself more as a habit, rather than an occasional failure.
  • Scripturally, a habitual sin is called bondage. We may also call it an addiction, but from the scriptural perspective, it is a bondage to sin. This is not just a bad habit, though someone in denial regarding their bondage may label it as such.
Within this context
  • It is something that you are aware of, but may feel helpless to be rid of.  Being drawn away by our own lusts is not necessarily bondage to sin.  But a person who is a slave to sin, or is bound to sin will be sometimes feel as if they're being pushed into sin.  And that is key difference: we all occasionally chose to sin, but bondage to sin actually feels as if you're being pushed into an action.
  • You make many attempts to rid yourself of the behavior, but you always end up doing it again.  In example, a pornographer will destroy his collection and then rebuild it.  An alcoholic will pour out the whiskey and wine only and eventually purchase more.  The smoker will throw away the cigarettes only to buy more in a few days.
The key here is "repetitive."  Just a s a slave is driven to work or perform for the master, a person in bondage to sin is driven into sin.  References verses are Ephesians 6:12, Luke 11:24, Mark 9:20-23
  • Repetitive participation in extra-marital or premarital sex.
  • Repetitive participation in pornography and impurity
  • Repetitive participation in the consumption of alcohol or drugs; aka, alcoholism and addictions.
  • Persistent attitude of pride, or other ungodly attitudes.
  • Persistent avoidance of God ordained responsibilities (slothfulness)
  • Persistent participation in anything that is (or the end result) is sin.
What are the root causes of Bondage?
An improper belief system
  • Bondage to sin is always, somewhere or somehow, based in a lie that is incorrectly accepted as a truth. As seen in the introduction verse, bondage is always related to rebelling against Gods word. In essence, this means that instead of believing and acting upon truth (Gods word), you believe and act upon a lie.
  • Hebrews 2:1-3 - For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
  • John 8:32 - "and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Bondage to sin is never a result of believing truth, it is always a result of believing and acting upon a lie.
  • John 17:17 - "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
  • We are released from bondage to sin when we reject the lie(s) is it based upon, and delivered into freedom when we choose to believe the truth of Gods word, and act upon those truths.  For example,  consider the repetitive sins I enumerated:  all of them revolve around generating our own peace, our own comfort.  The lie is that they can provide peace and comfort.  The truth is that only Jesus provide  true and lasting peace, John 14:26-27 - "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
It is failure to put on the armor of God
  • Ephesians 6:11 - Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
It has roots in demonic involvement
  • 1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
  • Ephesians 6:12 - For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
It is a failure to actualize our freedom from sin
  • As Christians, we are made free from the power of sin through the work of Jesus Christ. Consider, however, that unless you believe in the work Christ (that it has the power to set you free) and actively choose to apply it to your life, then you will never receive the benefit of His work.
  • Romans 5:17-19 - For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
It is in our nature to occasionally sin, but as a child of God, it is not in our nature to remain in sin.

The Steps to Freedom can be found in Psalm 119:57-64

Acknowledge that God has not reined in your life and make God your core focus.
Psalm 119:57 - The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.
  • Portion – Allotment, inheritance
    • Make God your portion in life, not things, not relationships, not pleasure.
  • Promise - a vow.
  • Keep your words – this means to guard the “matter of His word”, or to guard the “essence of His word”
  • All of us at one time or another have promised to keep Gods word: we’ve determined not to sin; or determined to say and do the right thing; we’ve all said in our heart, “I will do the right thing in this or that circumstance”. What you are effectively saying is that ‘you promise to keep Gods’ word’.
  • When you come to the realization that you have sinned, you are in effect saying, “I have promised to keep your words, but in this one thing I have failed.” In this verse, the Psalmist is acknowledging that he has sinned. This is further demonstrated in the next verse.
Ask forgiveness and confess for your sins
Psalm 119:58 - I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word.
  • I sought your favor – He is seeking the blessings of God, and by implication, he has asked for forgiveness of his sins; as seen by next phrase:
  • Be gracious to me according to your word – It is the mercy of God that forgives us, and the Grace of God that changes us and saves us. But the word ‘gracious’ implies, within current context, the totality of God’s mercies and grace. God has promised to be gracious to those that seek his face –
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 … My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Repent of your sins
Psalm 119:59 - I considered my ways And turned my feet to Your testimonies.
  • Note that after he has confessed his sins and sought the graciousness of God, he then again considered his ways. After careful consideration of his “ways”, he ‘turned his feet to Gods’ testimonies.
  • Your testimonies - The words and actions of God.
Know and Keep God’s commandments
Psalms 119:60 I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.
  • There’s not much to say about that; don’t be slothful; seek God with immediacy and with diligence.
Be Steadfast in your dedication to God and learn to Praise and Worship God
Psalm 119:61 - The cords of the wicked have encircled me, But I have not forgotten Your law.
  • Cords of the wicked - the bindings of evil, the thing(s) that keep and put you into bondage to sin. 
  • I have not forgotten your law - even in the face of turmoil and evil, he continued to seek Gods’ testimonies.
Give thanks to God
Psalm 119:62 - At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances.
  • At midnight I shall rise - He did not fail to make time to give thanks to God; he went out of his way and caused himself discomfort in order to give God thanksgiving, honor and glory.
  • because of your righteous ordinances - he gave thanks because of the things which brought him freedom 
Seek out and surround yourself with Godly friendship
Psalm 119:63 - I am a companion of all those who fear You, And of those who keep Your precepts.
  • I am a companion - Godly friends and counsel are required in our lives and they help keep us on a straight path. This does not mean that we cannot spend time with our unbelieving friends and serve them through the power of the Holy Spirit. But it does mean we need core companionship that consist of Godly people.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals.
Acknowledge His provision, His Loving-kindness
Psalm 119:64 (a) The earth is full of Your loving-kindness, O LORD;
  • You must believe, proclaim and acknowledge the loving-kindness of God. Those who cannot see God’s loving-kindness are deceiving themselves of the most precious truth there is to know about God: how He chooses and desires to relate to us.
  • Believe that God is full of Loving kindness, and that He wants the best for you.  
Learn the word of God and believe His word
Psalm 119:64 (b) Teach me Your statutes.
  • Statutes - the Law of God, His precepts
  • Desire to know God.  Knowing His word teaches you who God is.
  • Base the foundation your life in the truth of God, not in your desires, not in your fears, not in your self protection. You must believe Gods' word and use it as the foundation from which to find freedom from sin.
Trust and Believe - ask for and seek Gods wisdom
  • Hebrews 11:6 - without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
  • James 1:5-7 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord ... 
Discipline your mind in against your sinful actions and discipline it to rest in God.
  • In all cases of recurring sin, the mind (the seat of your flesh patterns, your natural inclinations) has won the battle against the Spirit:
    • Galatians 5:16 - But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
    • Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
Control your thoughts, train your mind in a new way (this is resisting the devil)
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 - We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
  • Speculation – ideas and fantasy
  • lofty thing – The pride of life that exalts itself against God.
  • Captive to the obedience of Christ - Surrender your mind to Christ, surrender your thought life to Christ, bring your mind into submission to Christ.
  • While you are in the process of disciplining your mind and rejecting sin, your spirit is in the process of gaining strength. However, you must remember that discipline can take you only so far: it is the Spirit that must be the victor over sin in order for you to gain true freedom.
The Most Important Step: Submit, Resist and Draw
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  (James 4:7-8)

[ Also see my other post, Overcoming Bondage to Sin ]

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