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Pretty wierd, huh? This catfish found in Lake Conroe (near Houston, TX) kept bobbing up to the top of the lake! Just can’t keep a good fish down!
The ball must have looked like something yummy. The big fish thought he was getting a meal and found out that the meal got him! He literally bit off more than he could chew! This is like sin in our lives. We may think it’s something from the outside that we can take or leave at will. While sin sooner or later shows up on the outside, Jesus taught us that it actually begins and proceeds from the heart:
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)
Jesus taught that to really overcome sinful issues in our lives we must begin at the heart of the matter. Trying to deal with sin as an exterior issue alone is like trying to keep several beach balls all underwater at the same time. You will get exhausted trying to stay on top of the battle.
The victory Christ offers us is one that also begins on the inside. In the same way that sin has ruled us from the inside, so now “in Christ” a new life principle and power can empower us from inside. It’s not an outside-in religiosity, but an inside-out resurrection life principle.
The Bible teaches that the very same life that raised up the dead body of Jesus Christ now dwells on the inside of those who have believed on and received Him as their Savior! (see Romans 8:11) If God’s Spirit can raise up a totally dead body, it can make some major changes in your’s as well!
Our major problem is this addiction to doing it ourselves. We think that we will overcome sin by our own grit and hard work. It is possible to modify outward behavior by sheer will power. But this is far from victory over sin. One sinful behavior if “eliminated” through will power alone, will usually show up as some other form of sin! It is true that we must soberly and sincerely engage in this battle against sin, but our weapons in this fight are not of our old natural selves. We must learn to allow the new life of Christ to flow forth from our hearts.
This can only consisently happen when we are regularly abiding in Him and communing with Him. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me…you will bear much fruit.” Drawing near to Him in prayer and worship and opening up our hearts to His dynamic presence will result in far better results than relying upon our own strength and abilities. After all, the real essence of sin is the inner tendency to do it alone, without God. Trusting ourselves and our own wisdom above God and living at a distance from Him is the real underlying issue of sin. Returning to Him and His presence is key.
But remember that it’s a process. Succumbing to sin from time to time does not mean that you aren’t saved. It does mean that you have somehow stepped away from the primacy of your inner relationship with Christ. When you do sin, rather than making guilt-driven promises to improve yourself, simply ask for His mercy and forgiveness and draw near to His presence again. This is sometimes a very difficult thing to do! We do not feel worthy of His presence. We do not feel like we will be welcomed there, considering our failures. But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus has removed the guilt of our sin! The quickest route back to victory is the one that proceeds directly to God’s merciful presence! This is where all victory begins, proceeds, and finishes.
(Click here for an audio teaching on this topic)