“At least I’m not as bad as they are!” “I would never do what they did!” “How could he do such a thing?” “What in the world did she think would happen when she did that?”
We’ve all heard these statements. Perhaps some of us might even be guilty of having made a statement similar to one of these. We are all so capable of accurately pointing out the faults in others. All the while failing to recognize our own short-comings. There is plenty of self-righteousness to go around. What’s generally lacking is self-control.
The unbeliever often speaks of the hypocrisy within the Church. That statement is true enough, but it is not the argument to be used to reject Christ. Every one of us has fallen short of God’s glory. Jesus alone brings to us His righteousness. Jesus is the standard, not His followers.
Another truth about Christianity is that many Christians allow some sins to go completely unchecked, perhaps even finding excuses for the wrong act, while other behaviors that go against God’s will are loudly condemned.
In our minds there are certain ‘obvious sins.’ However, in God’s Word sin is not categorized. Any sin, all sins separate us from God.
Living honestly with God and others is vital. God’s Word states that in the last days His servants will be honored because “no lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless” (Revelation 14:5). A complementary statement found in the Old Testament commands, “Do not lie. Do not deceive one another” (Leviticus 19:11).
Honestly, (pun strongly intended) I can’t think of many things that will harm or challenge one’s reputation faster than behaving in a dishonest way. Once a person is known ‘as not being trustworthy,’ it becomes difficult to reverse this opinion. Dishonest behavior is divisive. Of course, Satan loves this. As the “father of lies” (John 8:44), Satan spends a lot of energy trying to convince us that it really doesn’t matter whether or not we are honest.
Moral purity is part of being self-controlled. You might believe that we are in the last days because of all the sexual deviance in our society today. However, “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). One needs only to move through the pages of both the Old and New Testament to find horrific examples of sexual impurity that gained stamps of approval from the pagan beliefs of the day. This is still true today.
In today’s world, taking a stand against sexual immorality can result in being labeled as a hater or intolerant. However, God’s standards remain the same. You and I are expected to live lives of purity. The beauty is that God in His mercy and grace provides a way out. Paul told the Christians in Corinth, a city noted for its blatant immorality, to “flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). In other words, put on your tennis shoes, lace them tightly and run as hard as you can away from that which tempts you to behave immorally.
There is a well-known story about two dogs that had been bred to fight. At each fight, the owner would always bet on the winning dog. When asked how he always knew which dog would win he simply answered, “The one I feed.”
What we feed will become stronger. If we feed our desire to serve God and live in His righteousness, we will find freedom. However, choosing to feed a life outside of His authority will inevitably return us to the bondage our sins produce.
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)
I want you to consider the truth that freedom is found in Christ. In Christ you can find freedom from slavery to sin. You can experience freedom from sin’s guilt, from the fear it produces. You can be free from the penalty of sin and by the power of His Spirit we find freedom we have freedom over the power that sin wields.
Do you live in that freedom?
This freedom isn’t a license to behave as we wish. What Christ’s freedom provides is the power to live a life worthy of the gospel. It is here where we find victory.
The Bible speaks of a day when even “… Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Oh, glorious day when “… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on Earth, and under the Earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11). It is true that self-control is love’s victory.