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Deeper Roots + Wider Branches

Pursuing Sanctification, Community & Mission

Category Archives: Sin

Every opportunity to lust is an opportunity to love.

 

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To you, O Lord I lift up my soul.

O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.

Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

[Psalm 25:1-3]

Why do I lug around this soul so full of doubt, worry, fear, and rebellion when you invite me to come to you and find rest?

If your yoke is easy and your burden is light, why do I feel so lost tonight?

To you, O Lord I lift up my soul.

Enemies surround me from the outside, and I hate to say it, but they are inside me too.

Trust. I can’t trust myself. But you…My only hope. Trust in you. Though I sit in darkness, I do…

I’ve learned this much. That I can’t do this on my own.

Let me not be put to shame. Complete this work you’ve started in me.

I will wait. Wait for you.

Slowly but surely, you will lead.

Shame will crumble, piece by piece.

Joy has taken root.



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According to Wikipedia, Muscle Memory is “a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.”

As I’ve worked to fight both habitual and seemingly out-of-nowhere sins in my life, I’ve discovered that it is helpful to develop a sort of routine that I go through whenever I am hit with temptation- spiritual “muscle memory” if you will. Of course, this technique is not a silver bullet, but I have seen it help me when my sinful appetites start to make me insane and irrational. It helps me slow down, think, and remember what I truly want. You may not use the exact pattern I do, but I would encourage you to come up with something that is easy to remember that you can kick into action when the enemy attacks. Like cheesy sermons, all of my reminders start with the same letter, in this case “R”.

Recognize. Just admit to God what is going on. Name it. Face up to your appetite. “This is what I want right now…”, This is what I’m craving… “, “I’m angry because…”, etc.

Repent. It is possible that you haven’t sinned yet. The temptation is not the sin. But the way I see it, I can’t go wrong repenting. So this step usually looks like me saying something like “Lord, forgive me for the parts of my heart that desire what is evil, or what you have not given me.” I’m pretty sure that even when I haven’t done “the deed” yet, there are parts of my heart that need cleansing.

Remember. Call to mind relevant scripture passages. Remind yourself that God is good; that he is faithful; that he knows what you need and will provide for you. Remind yourself what your fighting for and find motivation in imagining the man/woman that you are praying that God will help you become. e.g. I want to be a man who is pure; who will be faithful in life and ministry; I want to be a person of integrity; I want to be a good steward of my time; etc.

Redirect. Turn mentally from whatever the temptation is and decide what productive/good think you are going to set your attention on.

[Retreat?] This will not always be possible, but ask yourself “Is this a situation I can physically flee from?” Can I change my location/activity, and get away from this temptation?

[Reinforcements?] Do I need to call for reinforcements? Should I call/text/email/visit someone who can pray for and encourage me? Warning: This one is tricky. There will be a lot of times you tell yourself that you don’t need reinforcements when you really do. The motto “better safe than sorry” is a good plan here. Much like repenting when maybe you aren’t totally sure you sinned, calling for reinforcements when you think you will probably be fine is not a bad thing!

Rejoice. Rejoice that whether you have a good day or a bad day, whether you “succeed” or “fail” you have a high priest, Jesus Christ, who sympathizes with your weaknesses, who intercedes on your behalf (Hebrews), who gave his life to save yours, and who covered you in his righteousness. Your salvation is not based on your ability to be a “good Christian”…it is based on Christ’s blood. Not only that, but you can rest on the promise that “just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead, we too will walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6). Rejoice!

This sort of strategy is not original with me. Others have shared similar strategies (see John Piper’s ANTHEM) What’s important is not finding the “silver bullet” technique, but rather knowing the gospel, knowing yourself, and figuring out what gets your eyes off of you and onto God in times of temptation. Think about your own personal fight with sin. How can you anticipate battles, and prepare for them? How can you develop your own spiritual “muscle memory”?