for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Several times recently, as I was watching TV, I saw a commercial for an addiction recovery program. The speaker was inviting people to take the first step toward recovery. The first step is to admit that they are addicted. I was struck that the first step to dealing with our sin is to admit that we are addicted to sin.
It is human nature for us to rationalize our addictions. We convince ourselves that we are in control and that our particular addiction is not really a problem. But we are only fooling ourselves. Those who know us best, can often clearly see the things that control us.
The Bible tells us that the first step to our redemption is recognizing that we are slaves to sin. Sin has control of our lives. It dictates how we act and think. It taints everything that we do. It dominates our lives. When we allow something to become a major influence in our lives, we come under its control. Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16
Through our faith in Christ, we can break the power of sin in our lives. Sin is no longer our master, calling the shots in our life. Sin no longer is the dominant influence in our lives. But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18
Here is the rub; although we are no longer slaves to sin, the influence of our addiction remains. A person who is a recovering alcoholic knows that they are never totally free from the addiction. One drink can be enough to hurtle a person down the spiral of addiction again. Because we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we can never again become slaves to sin. But we still can fall into the negative effects of sin. Like the alcoholic, we cannot dabble on the edges of sin and not get drawn back in. Sin is like a powerful suction that can pull us in a direction that we do not want to go.
Praise God, there is still grace. When Jesus was asked how many times we had to forgive someone who sinned against us, He responded that we are to forgive 70 X 7 times. That is the forgiveness that God offers to us. I John 1:8-10 is both a challenge and a great encouragement to us. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Like the alcoholic, we will never be totally free from the allure of our addiction. We can never let down our guard. But when we do stumble and fall, it is not the end of the story. If we will be honest with ourselves and with God, there is forgiveness and restoration. Our goal is to live free from sin, but when sin creeps into our lives, we need to deal with it honestly and quickly.
One of the problems with our addiction to sin is that it is often so subtle. It a sense, it sneaks up on us. Satan is a master at taking advantage of our vulnerabilities. His attacks are rarely frontal attacks. Most often they come at us from our blindside. In an unguarded moment, we can find ourselves spiritually sacked for a major loss. If we are going to win the battle with our addiction to sin, we need to be fully aware of what is going on in us and around us. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
The good news in our battle with our addiction to sin is that we are not in this alone. Christ comes along side of us to be our guard and our guide. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
We will battle our addiction to sin all of our lives. But praise be to God, we have the ultimate victory through Jesus Christ. Our cause is not lost. Instead, we are being refined for the day when we will stand holy and blameless in His presence. So let’s determine all the more to win the battle each day for the glory of God.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.