Too often, we Christians fall back into self-mastery or self-effort to overcome sin. Why is that? I believe it’s because we lose our connection to Christ. We “interrupt” the “service”, which is the flow of power from the Holy Spirit, by “disconnecting”.
So, then what do we do? We start making rules and regulations to govern ourselves and others. We end up becoming ‘legalists’. We gasp, because another believer feels liberty to have a glass of wine occasionally, and judge them in our minds. (The command of Scripture, by the way is “do not get drunk with wine…”; (Eph.5:18), “to not be enslaved to much wine…” (Titus 2:3).) Or we judge someone who wears what we may consider “too much jewelry, or makeup or whatever.” (Never mind that they look nice and their clothes are modest). We do exactly what the apostle Paul tells us not to do in Colossians 2:20-23:
“If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” “……………….These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
So, what is the answer to dealing with the temptation to sin, to avoid becoming legalistic and judgmental? Well, Paul tells us in the verses that follow the previous Colossians verses. Colossians 3:1-3 say this:
THEREFORE, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Jesus reminds us in John 15:4-5: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
As we remain connected to Jesus, the Spirit’s power naturally flows through us, just as that life-giving sap flows through the branches that remain connected to the tree. Oh, we may have occasional victory through self effort over a few things, or maybe even long-term mastery over one thing…..but to become victorious in all things; well, that takes supernatural power. We need to confess when we try, through self-effort, to conquer sin….and get re-connected to Christ. As we maintain our connection to Christ, the Holy Spirit takes control in enabling us to resist temptation, and to grow spiritually. The more spiritual growth, the more spiritual power. The more spiritual power, the less we are tempted to fall into sin. The less we sin, the more like Christ we become. The more like Christ, the less judgmental. The less judgmental, the more loving. The more loving….the more ‘liberty’ we experience in our lives…and help ‘liberate’ the lives of others.
So, if your ‘service’ has been interrupted, just dial Jeremiah 33:3, Isaiah 55:6-7, or Psalm 50:15. Any of these ‘numbers’ should immediately restore service! (If you still are having problems, try 1John 1:9 and Hebrews 4:16….guaranteed results!)