Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:12-13 (NLT)
As a recovering addict to lust, porn and the desires of my flesh, I continue to learn what it means to be a “new creation in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). My body/flesh knows only what it wants. God defines this as sin.
The word “sin” originates in Hebrew (hātā) as an archery term meaning “the act or state of missing the mark (bullseye).” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines sin as:
“The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. sin comprehends not action only, but neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts purposes, words and desires, whatever is contrary to God’s commands or law. 1 John 3:4. Matthew 12:31. James 4:17. Sinner neither enjoy the pleasures of nor the peace of piety.”
All my natural self knows to do is what my flesh desires and that is to sin against God. God has set the bullseye at being obedient to Him, yet I am lucky to even hit the target, let alone come anywhere close to the bullseye.
The word “desire” has many meanings. One in particular, used in Genesis 3:16 is “tesuqa. It is translated as “desire” or “longing.” This term is found only three times in the Old Testament: Genesis 3:16, 4:7, and Song of Solomon 7:10. In Genesis 3:16 the term is negative in nature, occurring in a context of sin and judgment.” (Biblestudytools.com – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”” Genesis 3:16 (NIV)
Before the fall of man into sin, God created male and female to desire and love God and each other (Genesis 2). Yet immediately after the fall (Genesis 3), God tells the woman, Eve, that her desire will be for her husband. I’ve always been confused by what this meant. The same word, tesuqa, is used in Genesis 4:7:
The LORD says to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
God created Adam and Eve to be in a partnership in their marriage. But in their sin (disobeying God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”), Eve would now want to master her husband (in the say way sin desires to master Cain) in opposition to God’s plan for Adam to be the leader in their marriage. Likewise, Adam would “rule over her,” against God’s plan for him to provide, protect and care for her. Marital discord would be the norm for couples choosing to live life in sin without God’s assistance.
All this to say, my sin nature (my flesh) desires to focus on myself and to want what I want, not what God wants. In other words, sin. Those things include lust, coveting what others have, and the immediate gratification of masturbating to porn for pleasure. But through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial love and grace, He gives me the gift of salvation and forgiveness of my sins. Therefore, my new self (new creation in Christ) desires to be obedient to God and serve Him by following His will, not my own.
Romans 6:12 (see above) states we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are not to give in to sinful desires. This Greek word for desires, “epithymia, is used in a bad sense, with the translation of the word being lust,” crave or covet (Biblestudytools.com – Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). We are still being tempted to sin so it is our responsibility to choose not to let our sin nature control us. Just like God told Cain to rule over his sin. Daily, we must give ourselves (our will) to God.
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 NIV
Verse 14 is a promise to us that sin will not triumph over us. Sin no longer is our master. Instead, Jesus is our master! And Jesus rules over us with His grace, which is a good thing!
So, why the title – Purpose in New Life in Christ? As this new year 2019 begins, I know that I have been lax in my focus in giving ALL of me to Jesus. I’ve allowed my will (my sin nature), to continue its desires to sin and disobey God. I still want to do things my way instead of God’s. So today I again commit my life and every part of me to step into the middle of God’s will and follow His lead. He has amazing plans and opportunities for me to step into and carry out as He directs. It is my job to listen and obey. What better place to be than right in the middle of God’s will.
It does not mean it is an easy path. A friend of mine in recovery said, “Satan does not like it when we walk in God’s will, so when the going gets rough and temptations are strong, this only means we are to rejoice because it must mean we are in the middle of God’s will and Satan is trying to distract us.”
May you, too, rejoice in this new year, as you choose to keep your focus on your purpose – following God’s desires for you instead of your own sinful desires. Take time daily to listen for God’s lead because He will certainly give you instructions. Use your talents, gifts and abilities for God’s purpose; not your own.