Battling Sin: The War Within

A young person asked me the other day a simple yet fundamental question that I feel needs to be addressed, the question was: How do I fight sin?

Every true believer battles “sin” on a daily basis; from our actions, to our words, even to our thoughts. As a true follower of Christ our greatest desire is to please the Father, and losing battles to sin can really burden the believer. Yes, we are saved by grace through faith (Galatians 2:8) but in truth because of our salvation we aspire to honor God with our lives. So in order to battle sin, we must understand that sin is acting upon temptation and this is the first element of the battle. To overcome sin we must fight or avoid temptation at all cost.

Looking through scripture and being led by the Spirit, the beauty and glory of this battle belongs to the Spirit of God. Amen to that, in that our victories over temptation are not of our doing but of the workings of the Holy Spirit within us. We boast not in ourselves, as if we were strong enough or devote enough to overcome sin, but we boast in the work that the Holy Spirit has done within us. Glory to God!

1 John 3:24b

“And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)

Every child of God is born-again, which means that they are a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Being born of God, a child of God is given God’s seed as we see in 1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (NIV).” We see from this text that it is God’s seed (The Holy Spirit) that enables us to refrain from sinning. It is the Spirit of God within us that fights our battles of temptation and allows us victory from sin.

It is important to note here, that just in case we have forgotten, Jesus Christ has justified us before God the Father by his blood being poured out on the cross for our sins. The battle of sin that is being expressed here is for a regenerated man, who is in Christ Jesus. This process of the Spirit in our life is fighting and overcoming sin to conform us to the image of Christ and allowing us to be more like Christ in how we act, talk and think. So, if you see that sin is not being over come in your life it is essential to go to the source, which is, believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Where do we come in? Am I to sit around and just live life as before? Using the words of Paul, by all means No! It is essential to feed the Spirit of the Lord, to allow for proper and healthy growth. How is it that we, as believers in Christ, can do that? I will give three ways that should be expected and desired in every Christian’s life.

  • Read the Word of God: Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (NIV)” The Word, will bring an awareness and understanding to the convictions that the Holy Spirit is pressing upon you. It will allow you to discern the workings of the Spirit and help you see the path of righteousness that the Spirit is setting you upon.
  • Pray: The Lords prayer has a line that we should pay special attention to on the subject of overcoming temptation. Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (NIV).” It is God that will deliver us! The line does not read… so I can overcome the evil one, so I can defeat the evil one, so I can avoid the evil one. It reads God, you lead us away from temptation and God, and you deliver us away from the evil one. Why? Because I do not possess the strength on my own to do so.
  • Fellowship: James 5:19-20 “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over love. This is the second greatest commandment according to Jesus “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The body of Christ can walk with you, love you, help you grow in knowledge of Jesus and his commands and allow the Spirit of God to flourish in your life.

My prayer is that we will allow the Spirit to consume our lives, that sin will be overcome in many areas that may seem difficult right now and that Christ be glorified through all of it.

Amen. Grace and peace to all of you.

1 John 5:3-4
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.

Death of the Youth Pastor

A major concern in youth circles around the country (USA) is the drastic number of youth that renounce faith after they leave youth group. Around the age of 18 many teens are going to college or finding a career. It is around this time that 70% of young adults, as they are considered now, tend to leave the church. So what is the problem? Guessing from the title you might think it is youth pastors, but that is not the main concern I have.

While it is true that many youth groups seem more like a pizza party and less like a group focused on training and equipping the future church, this is not the main concern I have when it comes to this subject. The biggest reason for the continued decline of the future church, builds its roots in the home. It is in the home where there is the biggest need of spiritual guidance; discipleship and a Christ like love.

The major factor that leads to spiritual blindness in the home is half hearted, unprepared fathers and husbands. We learn in the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians that “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” This shows the crucial role men play in the family. Unfortunately, we have had a decline of Godly men leading to faithless families and youths.

Now we see a major problem, what could be a proposed solution. This is where the title comes in. It is my belief, a belief not shared by many, that there is no need for youth groups in the Church. What there is a need for is pastors to encourage, teach, and demonstrate how to disciple families. Not just on Sundays but daily. The expression “it takes a village” can hold true to raising a family in Christ as well. It will take the whole body to encourage and pray for the men in the church so that they can lead their families to a life in Christ. Why, then, is there no more need for youth groups and youth pastors? Because this is the very job that the fathers are to take up, it is their duty to teach, discipline and live a life worthy of the gospel for their children.

To Teach

One of the primary responsibilities in discipleship is teaching. To show what the scriptures say, what they command of believers, and how to read the text. Fathers should read with their children daily. Yes, that was not a typo I did say DAILY. Regarding the early believers, Acts 2:42 reads:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ”

Acts 2:42

To Discipline

Without discipline there will be little to no growth. Discipline is a major part of discipleship, not to harm but to “spur” towards the correct path. We see many times Jesus reproving his disciple, correcting them. Discipline and a demand of Godliness should not be overlooked. We read in Hebrews chapter 12:

(7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (8) If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! (10) They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. (11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:7-11

To Live

The greatest responsibility of discipleship is not just teaching what the scriptures say but to “walk the walk.” More than words will ever teach a child or teen is the way you live your life. If this step is missed, the other steps lose almost all of their validity. Paul writes in Philippines 1:27:

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”

Philippians 1:27

So we understand that it is up to men to disciple their families and their children. We even see in Paul’s directions to Timothy regarding eldership this is a major quality that they are to look for “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect (1 Timothy 3:4).” Still, why death to the youth pastors?

 

One of the biggest things children need today, is to see their father receive the word of the Lord from the church. They are unable to do so separated in another room receiving a message. Now, I’m not saying that the messages they hear are bad, although times they are, or that youth pastors are inadequate but remember the third point of discipleship I referenced? To live, actions speak louder than words, to see ones father love the gospel message will enrich a love for the gospel message. To see ones father hungry for the Word of Truth, will create a great desire for the same Word. The youth need to SEE how their father receives the word of the Lord and then how he applies it to his life. As long as there are youth groups there is not a desperate need for fathers to rise up and take the role that God gave them. The final question can be, “What if a person does not have a father? Or, if that person’s father is not a believer, then we need a youth pastor.” This is a hard argument to fight, but my best attempt is this (Not for the sake of ending youth groups but for the betterment of the whole body of Christ). The bride of Christ is a family, brothers and sisters who long for our Father. What is needed is not to have a group inside the church that is separated but to be immersed in the whole body. To see older brothers (older adults) love the Lord, to have older brothers love their younger brothers, to have older brothers be the fathers to the fatherless. This duty is too big a responsibility for a youth pastor this is a demand of the church. James writes

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 1:27

This is a charge for the Church.

I pray that this is a piece that Jesus wanted, I pray that this will inspire men, families and churches to grow in Godliness. And I pray that above all the Lord God be glorified.

My God is Bad

My God is a vicious warrior

With command over a host of plenty, My God is bad

The Alpha and Omega the beginning the end

The one on whom I depend

My God is bad

 

He spoke existence into being

He created all things

Yes I tell you my God is bad

See He traded the V for C in grave

He is might to save

Better believe my God is bad

He brought the dead to life

A groom coming for his wife

My God is bad

 

So when the storms are rough and the journey seems a loss

Remember my God endured the cross

Punishment and sin brought upon him

Then a innocent man looking dim

But Death could not conqueror the savior did rise

He Brought freedom and his glorious prize

So read the word you will see

A conqueror

A king

All heavenly things

Oh yes my God is bad

 

In modern culture the term “bad” when referring to someone’s dominance is one of the greatest expressions of adoration. You will commonly here in sports broadcasting booths across the country that “he’s a bad man!” The inspiration for this piece came from this, to show and express the greatness of an almighty God.

By: Matt Risher

Isaiah 6 Commentary

Isaiah 6

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
 the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never

understanding;

be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;


make their ears dull

and close their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

hear with their ears,

understand with their hearts,

and turn and be healed.”

11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

And he answered:

 

“Until the cities lie ruined

and without inhabitant,

until the houses are left deserted

and the fields ruined and ravaged,

12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away

and the land is utterly forsaken.

13 And though a tenth remains in the land,

it will again be laid waste.

But as the terebinth and oak

leave stumps when they are cut down,

so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

 

 

By Matt Risher:

 

Isaiah 6 beings with a historical marker; “In the year King Uzziah died.” From earlier text 2 Chronicles 26 we see the reign of King Uzziah. He was appointed kingship at a young age and was a restorer of Judah. He did right in the eyes of The Lord and that led to many military victories against Philistines, Meunites and Arabs. He became very powerful and his fame spread throughout the area; and the land of Judah had a peace under the leadership of Uzziah. So why is his death significant? With the loss of this powerful and feared leader the land of Judah was again vulnerable. A sense of apprehension was there as in who would rule next? And how will their rule affect the country?

This is a perfect time for the King of Glory to appear to His prophet. You see, the whole time since the Israelites left Egypt with Moses; God was King over Israel and Judah even if they turned from him to man or other idols, He watched and dictated the fate of the people. He always was in control and in this time of fear of what will happen, He appears!

Isaiah goes on to say that he “saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (verse 1) He sees these seraphim (translates directly to “burning ones”) with six wings, two used in flying crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (verse 3) They cannot even handle the glory flowing from the throne of the Lord because they use four wings to cover their body completely. They were shouting back and forth almost in a battle to declare how marvelous the glory and power of God is each one amplifying the holiness of the Lord to each other. And at the sound of just there praise to the Lord the “doorpost and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (verse 4)

There is a scene of intense power, where even pure creatures tremble in the presence of the Holy one; and the whole time Isaiah is taking it in, seeing first hand the Glory of God Almighty. His response to it all is in verse 5. “’Woe to me!’ I cried.  ‘For I am ruined!’”

Why?

See Isaiah is the Prophet of the Lord; He is amongst the people a Holy man; One with good standing before the Lord who is to speak to the people on behalf of the Lord. But Isaiah knows the Lord that is why he cries out in fear and trembling. He knows that no man can see the glory of the Lord and live (Exodus 33:20). Look what he says; keep in mind that Isaiah is a SPEAKER for the Lord. “For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” (verse 5) There are a few points to grab here

  1. Isaiah acknowledges that the greatest part about him, the fact that even the aspect of his life that exemplifies holiness the most is nothing compared to the glory and the holiness of the Lord
  2. He notes that the people that are amongst him are no different than him. Why is this important? Many believers today believe their “glory” or “holiness” is far superior to the people around them. But lets look at Isaiah, a significant prophet of the Lord, one who the Lord uses continually with the honor of declaring the coming king the Son of God. He knows his standing before the Lord is just as sinful and unjust as everyone else.
  3. King Uzziah has died, yet Isaiah knows the true King, the Lord Almighty. He declares God the King of Israel and acknowledges his power.

Woe is me… this is not a quote to take for granted as we often do today. Crying out “woe to me” as Isaiah did shows the curse he is under, the doom, destruction and wrath that is and rightfully should come to him. As you notice he did not ask for help, did not cry to be saved; but look what happens next.

Verses 6-7 describe a scene where one of the seraphim comes to Isaiah, who is in great distress and who is deserved of death, with a live coal in hand which he had taken from the alter and he Touched (notice he touched) the mouth of Isaiah. “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

This is my opinion but we can see how a healing touch, like that of Jesus Christ can completely change a situation of disaster to one of purity before the Lord. Grace is getting what you do not deserve and the touch of Jesus is grace.

Now renewed before the Lord, Isaiah hears a call from the Lord. Verse 8, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I (Isaiah) said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Let that be your prayer in your life… Here am I. Send me! So much to take from here

  1. The Lord calls for someone to send, He doesn’t say what he is sending them to do or what will happen, yet in the unknown Isaiah is more than willing to do what ever it is the Lord asks of him. What does this tell?

a)    That he (Isaiah) is a loyal servant of the Lord

b)    Isaiah trust that the Lord will cause no harm on him

c)    Isaiah knows Gods plan will draw him closer to the Lord

  1. Who will go for US??? Who is the us the Lord is talking about? This can be an account of the trinity, three in one the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
  2. Here am I. Send me! One minute Isaiah is cursed and now he is on the Lords mission. Guess what? So are you and so am I. We were doomed and under a curse before Jesus, but now after his healing touch of restoration we are on the mission of the Lord. Every minute of every day.

Then follows the conversation of the Lord with Isaiah. He is sent on a mission to declare the message of the Lord to the people. The message is one of disaster and ruin. A whole other commentary can be made on this conversation but for now we will continue.

 

The beauty of this passage evolves into another level in John 12: 37-41.

 

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their hearts,

so they can neither see with their eyes,

nor understand with their hearts,

nor turn—and I would heal them.”

 

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

 

The Lord Almighty and the glory of whom he saw was that of Jesus Christ, high and exalted on his throne. This same Jesus took off this glory to come to the earth as an atoning sacrifice, the coal amongst the lips of the unclean, and clothed himself in our sin. “He who had no sin became sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21) exchanging an immeasurable glory and becoming a payment for the sin of the world. A gift that we do not deserve, but Love, oh the love the Father has for us.

 

This is a story of Grace. I hope you can take the points I have made and expound on them. Grace leads to a call, a call leads to a desire, and the desire leads to the movement. Speak the word of the Lord wherever you shall go, whether it is of prosperity or of ruin. The word of the Lord is the word of the Lord a double-edged sword that can separate soul and spirit. (Hebrews 4:12)