Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

Why Do I Keep Doing That

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Joseph Tokar

Why Do I Keep Doing That Why Do I Keep Doing That

Date 2012-01-15
Document (PDF) BFF-20120115-WhyDoIKeepDoingThat.pdf

Please note that there is not yet an audio for this sermon.

Ever had the thought that you just can’t do it? You just can’t stop sinning? Why is it so difficult to deny our flesh and walk the path that God wants for us? Why do we keep falling into the sin patterns of our lives? Why do we put ourselves above God so often? We have heard numerous times about the sin nature of man, and our flesh and how we have to keep fighting against ourselves.

I have a story I would like to share:

The Scorpion and the Frog

One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.

The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you won’t try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright do I know you won’t just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

"You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"

The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the dying frog's back.

"I could not help myself. It is my nature."

Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.

So is it in our nature to continue to walk in rebellion from God and walk in sin?

John Wesley has a sermon called On Sin in Believers in which he writes:

"Every babe [new Christian] in Christ is holy, and yet not altogether so. He is saved from sin; yet not entirely: it remains, though it does not reign. If you think it does not remain, (in babes at least, whatever be the case with young men, or fathers) you certainly have not considered the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the law of God.

The usurper is dethroned. He remains indeed where he once reigned; but remains in chains. So that he does, in some sense, "prosecute the war,” yet he grows weaker and weaker; while the believer goes on from strength to strength, conquering and to conguer.”

Sin remains, but it does not reign! What a fantastic statement. We do have sin in our lives, but it continues to fade and to become easier to avoid as we grow older and more mature. If this was not the case, than we would continue to be the person we were when we first came to Christ. How sad would that be, to see ourselves in the same state as on the day we gave our lives to Christ. Picture how cute it is to see a baby crawling for the first time, joyous in his ability to move around. But how sad or disturbing, if 40 years later that same person continued to crawl just because they didn’t feel like walking. As we mature in Christ, our sin becomes less aggressive, more internal and more convicting. When we are babes in Christ, the sins we deal with in our youth are not the same sins we deal with in our maturity. Change is sometimes a small improvement over time as the Holy Spirit convicts us and we grow in our faith. Hardly noticeable to us in our daily lives, but very noticeable to others who see us less frequently.

So when can we stop struggling with sin and just live? When can we settle for being good enough? When can we stop beating ourselves up over our own sin nature?

Earlier this week Alex and I had a conversation about how hard we need to work at the things we do. There is an excellent statement that my friend Steve Holland has as a signature on his email. It reads very simply: Good enough, isn’t. Sin should make us sorrowful, virtually consume us in our desire to overcome and not allow it to reign. Paul writes:

2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (NLT)

9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.

When we are convicted of our sin, it should be our most heartfelt desire to correct that sin.

1 John 1:4-10 (NKJV)

4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

John writes that God is light and that we walk in the light and the blood of Christ cleanses us. He tells us that we are sinners, but that we have Christ in us and that he cleanses us and forgives us.

So what is a sinner, or better yet, how do we know what sin is?

Romans 7:7-25 (NLT)

7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet.” 8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. 9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, 10and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good. 13 But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes. 14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Now, we know that we have sin living in us, that we have to fight against our flesh, against our desires to give in to that sin.

Timothy 1:15 (NLT) 15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

The wonderful thing is that God gives us a way out, He promises us that we can do it, that we can defeat sin in ourselves.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

So here are some things that we should all do to avoid temptation and sin:

  1. Read scripture.
  2. Avoid places of temptation, especially those that you know are a distraction to you.
  3. Change your patterns. If you know you get mad when certain things happen, change the situation so you don’t get mad.
  4. Read scripture.
  5. Get in relationship with Christians.
  6. Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit every day.
  7. Read scripture.

One last thing for today, maybe the most important thing: repent and seek God’s forgiveness but remember what Christ taught us:

Matthew 6:9-15 (NKJV)

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[a] 14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Here is the most important point: verse 15 reads "but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This verse includes "you.” You must forgive yourself for the sins you have committed, repent in Godly sorrow and grow in maturity, disdaining the sins of your youth.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22, 23

Let’s pray.