For far too long, in our pursuit to ensure that people understand salvation is by grace through faith, we have neglected teaching Christians to obey.
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (emphasis added)
Obedience Not Victory
We are too often looking to be “victorious” over our sin instead of recognizing our call to obedience. God has placed the responsibility of living a holy life squarely on our shoulders. Yes, He gives us the power to overcome but the actual overcoming is something we must do. Keswick theology – better known as “let go and let God” – is not biblically sound. There is still something we must be doing in working out our own salvation by fear and trembling ((Philippians 2:12).
Using words like “victory” and “defeat” to describe overcoming temptation and sin leads us down a path to conclude sin is greater than me. On the other hand, using “obedience” and “disobedience” to describe sin in our life places the responsibility squarely on my choices. I choose to obey…or I don’t! I am obedient…or I’m not! Holiness is obedience while disobedience is sin. Pretty simple. To be “defeated” by my sin lets me out from under my responsibility. It’s as though something outside of me has defeated me. Not true. Sin is inside of you and tied to your flesh.
Power to Choose
What God has done for us in giving us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not Someone who does the work for us. Instead, He provides the power that gives us the ability to obey and thereby overcome temptation and sin. It is very important that we realize that sin is a choice, an action. And that action is the byproduct of our thinking. James tells us, “…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:14-16). Lust is another way of saying thoughts or attitudes. it’s your attitudes and thoughts that lead to actions. Sin is born when thoughts make the decision to disobey.
Here’s the key: YOU HAVE ABSOLUTE 100% CONTROL OVER BOTH YOUR ATTITUDE AND YOUR ACTIONS!