We've taken a closer look at the idea of confession - what it really is in scripture and starting to think about how we might recapture some of that. Then we've taken a closer look at what sin actually is (and discovered ironically the word isn't even really in the Bible - see below for all that excitement).
So...on with the show as Kermit says...
This passage does a great job explaining the process from temptation beginning with a desire in our mind through to becoming a sinful action that brings death in some way (literal death for the worst 'sins' or the death of our freedom as we give way to guilt and shame).
We don't involuntarily sin - it doesn't just happen. A desire is formed and we either restrain it and discard it, or we allow it to grow in us until we act on it. I don't accidentally lash out in anger, I choose to. I don't accidentally abuse someone, I choose to. I don't accidentally exploit someone's vulnerability to manipulate them, I choose to.
If we can accept this, then it can help arm us. The battle we must all learn to master is whether we will rule our desires or whether they will rule us. We'll gain a different level of victory over this in different areas of our lives and at different times, but until we recognise that this is the nature of the battle we can't start fighting it properly. Struggling with your lusts and temptations? It begins with your thoughts.
As God said to Cain, "Sin is crouching at the door. It's desire is to have you, but you must master it," (Genesis 4:7). So, how does this work? Let's have a look at what Paul had to say.
The kingdom of darkness are like classic vampires - they can't come into your territory unless they are invited. How do they secure that invitation? By suggestion thoughts to you and waiting for you to agree with them. When you agree with the thoughts they inspire it takes root inside and grows to become reality for you: "I'm useless." "I always this..." "I never that..." "They're gonna hate me." "I've let them down again." "It's never going to work." "You can't trust anyone."
These are the sort of things we end up saying to ourselves when we agree with the thoughts they've planted. Have you ever wondered why, when things aren't certain, we tend to assume the worst rather than the best? That's part of the curse...there's a natural gravity towards the kingdom of darkness since the time of Adam and Eve. But since the time of Jesus we can reverse that - and this is the job we've been given!
Do you typically see the opportunities or the problems? When someone shares an idea are you quick to point out the possibilities or the barriers? Do you comment on what could happen if things go right, or what's going to happen if things go wrong? Is your primary attitude positive or negative? Have you learned to appreciate life or have you become cynical or bitter towards it?
In short, do you speak life or death?
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the power of life and death is in our tongue. How disciplined are in you monitoring the thoughts and attitudes you speak into being. Do words of love, joy, peace, kindness, patience, hope - are these fruits of the spirit the main travellers across your tongue? Or are you a highway for fear, concern, criticism, pessimism, anxiety, and control? These are the fruits of another kingdom.
Why do we compete for who is having the hardest time, rather than hearing each other and focusing on how to support others, and asking openly for the support we need?
If you are doing these things, the kingdom of darkness is smiling - they've got you playing their game. You are speaking death rather than life and disempowering your own spirit. When they trap us there, they can safely move on to someone else as it's only a matter of time before you defeat yourself.
We are called to break out of these patterns.
Selfishness leads to sneaky and subtle strategies to get what we want.
Love serves others and is transparent about it's own needs.
Sin seeks to ensare us - it does that by the seeds it plants in our mind and waits for us to agree with them, giving it power to grow in us. We must all be at war with this. We must master it - and it begins with our thoughts. Learning to observe your own thoughts is the first step to being able to take the wrong ones captive.
Struggling with negativity, lusts, fears, a lack of peace? It all begins in our thoughts - learn to take them captive. Let's not make Cain's mistake!
Bless you all heaps.