When we lived south of La Junta Colorado, my brother and I used to have wars where we threw things at each other. Depending on the mood, sometimes it was rocks. But most of the time it was of the horse apple / cow pie variety. Mom and Dad thought we were gross little rascals, but I do think they thought this was funny…or maybe this was one of those deals that kept us from tearing up the house. These wars ranged from the long range cow pie bomb, to the close range rapid fire of horse apples. Just to clue you in, there is a trick to handling a cow pie bomb, to soft and you ended up with a handful of…well you know. To hard and it just bounced off your target. It had to be just right to get that “explosion” upon contact. Sometimes I won, sometimes he won (the real loser was my Mom having to do the laundry). Sometimes we got the neighbor boys over and it was a team sport, but it was all in good fun. We were little boys that didn’t see the filth of what we were touching, we just saw the results of a good throw.
Sometimes I’m still like that little boy in a cow pie war. Today I picked up something that I thought I put away. In the past I messed around with it and enjoyed it; now, not so much. But I still want to pick it up and mess around with it every once in a while. The thing is, I know it’s not good for me. I know that God has better things for me than this thing I keep picking back up, but still I pick it up. I’m sorta like a dog with a bone, even after you take it away from me….I still want to pick it up and play with it.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about sin. God calls us as Christians to live a different life than the world, but we still want to dabble in what the world has to offer. Sometimes we fiddle around even with the Holy Spirit screaming at us to run away, leave, vamoose, scam…just like Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife. But is that what I do? I can run away from those public sins, but the ones I hold in my heart are harder to run from. Those are the ones that keep coming back for me to pick up and play with. God gives us some pretty specific commands about our sin, in Deuteronomy 26:16-19
“Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey these laws and teachings with all your heart and soul. In response, you have agreed that the Lord will be your God, that you will obey all his laws and teachings, and that you will listen when he speaks to you. Since you have agreed to obey the Lord, he has agreed that you will be his people and that you will belong to him, just as he promised. The Lord created all nations, but he will make you more famous than any of them, and you will receive more praise and honor. You will belong only to the Lord your God, just as he promised.”
So if I read this right, if we obey God’s commands with all our heart and soul, we will belong to God. Jesus says something that is very similar to this in the New Testament, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and your entire mind.” (Mathew 22:37). So if we love the Lord, removing the sin from our lives should be pretty easy…right? Coming to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ is not like a magic pill. We still have the same sinful body that covets and desires the things we want. Coming to know the saving grace of Christ means that we are not prisoners to that sin. Philippians 4:13 says we “can do all things through Him who strengthens us”, this includes avoiding the evil desires of our hearts.
The key is to listen and act when the Holy Spirit is telling you to run away. Joseph didn’t just tell Potiphar’s wife no and still hang around the palace. Joseph ran away, in fact he ran away so fast that she pulled his tunic right off of him as he ran out the door. Joseph gives a pretty good example of resisting temptation; don’t just leave the situation….RUN AWAY from it! Get as far away as you can.
I would like to say that I don’t struggle with sin, but the truth of the matter is I do. This sin that I keep throwing away and then going back to dig it out of the trash is not pleasing to God. I know this; it’s not a secret that this is bad for me. I have sin in my heart that is constantly struggling for control. Why is this you ask? Because I let it! God has given me the strength to leave it behind, but sometimes it’s not the devil. Sometimes I just like my sin.
The good news is that once you belong to God. Once you’ve accepted the Saving Grace of Christ. Once you’ve accepted the fact the Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died to pay for your sins…then you have a chance to repent. Does this give you a license to do and act any way you want and then get right on Sunday. No, God calls us to act and live differently. Will we stumble and fall (like I did today)? Yes…no doubt. But, we can repent. We can pray for the faith and strength to resist the thorn in our sides.
Praise the Lord for a God of second chances! It’d be pretty hard life if God only gave us one chance and then we were done. Aren’t we all a little like King David, we stumble and fall, get back up and repent. I find that I don’t stumble and fall near as often as I used to. Those cow pie bombs don’t find their way into my hands as much anymore.