This morning as we prepare for the Lord’s Table, I want to finish a message I began two months ago. Now I know you won’t remember it and that’s okay. Preaching is not just passing out information that you are to remember, it’s a spiritual event which in and of its own self impacts you with conviction and comfort and clarity and encouragement and instruction, and at the moment moves you up the path of maturity and helps you to love the Lord more. And I hope we have another event like that today.
But nonetheless, two months ago I did talk about dealing with sin in the heart and I told you I’d finish it up next time we met for the Lord’s Table, and this is it, at least when I’m here. And I want to go back to dealing with sin in the heart. Participating in the Lord’s Table calls on us to confront our sin. It is a remembrance of the death of Christ, we’ve sung of that as we just so beautifully heard. If it hadn’t been for a hill called Mount Calvary, we’d all still be lost and we look back with great joy and gratitude to the cross.
But that’s not all this is. This is not just about remembering the cross, this is about contemplating our own sinfulness. This is about coming to the recognition that we are still sinners. And when we come to the Lord’s Table, we are called upon to face that.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 we read – verse 27 – “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and let him eat of the bread and drink the cup.” You don’t want to come to this table in an unworthy way. You want to come in a worthy way which calls for self-examination. That is it is calls for an examination of your own heart to see if, in fact, you are Christ’s and, in fact, you have come before Him with a heart of penitence and contrition and a cry for purification as we heard so beautifully sung.
If you don’t do that, verse 29 says, you “eat and drink judgment to yourself.” Some in the congregation at Corinth were sick and some were dead as a result of coming with a trivial or shallow attitude to the Lord’s Table. And so, we come with seriousness, looking at our sin and realizing that Jesus died for sin and yet, as I said in my prayer this morning, even though we realize that and are grateful for that, sin is still a reality and we contend as much or more than we obey the principles that we know are true.
Second Corinthians 7:1 says that we are to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We are called to purity and this is a very important point in the life of the church when we face the need for that. And it’s a lifelong battle, isn’t it? Hebrews 12:1 speaks of the sin that so easily entangles us. Sin is in our nature, it’s in our disposition, it’s in our humanness. It’s not just in our physical body, it’s in our minds, it’s in our affections, it’s in our feelings, it’s in our emotions, it’s in our will.
This last week I was having breakfast early one morning with Dr. Joe Francis. He’s on the science faculty of Master’s College. He’s a formidable scientist, to put it mildly, with an expertise in immunology. And among the things he was telling me which were so fascinating to me, this one stuck, he said, “There is more bacteria currently alive inside of you than all the people who have ever lived on the earth since creation.” That is a frightening thought. And immediately, my mind says, “Well what are they doing in there?” And he went on to tell me that a certain percentage of them are deadly. He said it is a mercy from God that you have an immune system. The immune system is what God gave you to counter the fall. There may have been bacteria before the fall but they were all there for a good function.
The fall catapulted some of those bacteria into a deadly category and God gave you an immune system by mercy so that you could survive. And that is an indication that God is by nature a Savior because if we didn’t have an immune system, we would die. And you know that too because you know that diseases that destroy the immune system eventually kill. And I thought how parallel to that is our soul condition? We have sin bacteria in us that would kill us if it were not for the mercy of God. And as long as we are in this world, as long as we are this side of heaven, this side of our final transformation and glorification, we are battling against the corruption that is in us.
Bacteria, those bacteria that corrupt and kill will do their work and all of us will die. It’s inevitable unless we go up in the Rapture. Sin is fatal to all our bodies because of its corrupting influences. And sin is also pervasive in our souls, but by the mercy of God and the grace of Jesus Christ, it is not fatal. It will not kill us. It will not catapult us into spiritual death or eternal death because we have been delivered from its penalty. But it’s there. All that sinful corruption is in us.
It is so pervasive and so subtle that we must be suspicious of our righteous behavior. And the only way to deal effectively with the sin that is in us is to oppose it on the inside, to deal with it on the inside. When bacteria have done destructive damage on the inside and when cells have gone awry, such as in cancer, you can’t treat it on the outside; you have to treat it on the inside. Same is true spiritually. Sin has to be defeated on the inside. And that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about dealing with sin in the heart.
In James chapter 1, we basically have the pathology of this corruption. The pathology of this corruption is given in verses 14 through 16 of James 1, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” The problem is not outside of us, it’s inside of us. It’s not the devil who made you do it, it’s not the world that is really the problem. Although the devil through the system of the world produces the things that tempt, it is what’s in you. We are tempted, says James, when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust. The problem is us. And when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. There – there is that sort of spiritual bacteria that kills. And in verse 16 he says, “Do not be deceived.” Don’t think it’s any other way. That’s how it is, you are the problem. The problem is in you and if you’re going to deal with sin you have to deal with it on the inside, not on the outside. If you don’t deal with it on the inside, you’ll never stop it on the outside.
I’ve said this so many times through the years. Whenever sin runs loose on the outside, it’s because it’s long incubated on the inside. Sin is conceived, nurtured, incubated on the inside. All sin is incubated in the heart. And so, it has to be dealt with there. Sinful behavior is due to heart-shaping sinful thinking. First of all, you desecrate the holier place. You desecrate the temple of the Holy Spirit and then you desecrate the courtyard. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Your life is defined by what’s going on in your heart. “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”
“It’s not what goes into the man that defiles him,” – Jesus said – “it’s what comes out of him.” Sin is a matter of the heart and requires an active, aggressive immunology, some kind of system to kill its deadly effects before they break out in total destruction. So when we talk about sin, we have to – we have to get to the heart of the issue. We can’t just talk about what shows up on the outside. And so, I – I want to help you to understand something of the pathology of sin and how this particular corrupting influence works in us.
A number of years ago I wrote a book called The Vanishing Conscience. And there’s a chapter in there that – a couple of chapters, but one in particular that deals with some of this. And I want to go back to some of those things to remind you of them. Let me tell you how sin works inside. Let me tell you how it works in the heart, how it conceives and brings forth an action and ultimately destruction. There are three ways in which the mind engages in sin, three ways. They are basically past, future and present. Sin works from the past, it works toward the future and it works in the present. That’s another element of its pervasive character.
So let’s say that, first of all, the mind engages in sin by remembering, by remembering. One way to sin in the present is to cherish the memory of sin in the past. I tell young people very often, how you live your life in your youth may dictate the character of temptation that you’re going to have in the future because if you fill your young life with sin, you will not forget it and it will wind up being recycled. All your bad relationships, all your bad attitudes, all your evil deeds, all the hypocrisies, all the lies, all the times you cheated on the tests, all of that will assault your conscience not only at the time, but it will come back again. It will be reprocessed. To bring back a memory of a past sin is to induce a sin all over again.
And somebody will ask the question, “Can someone who is truly repentant about a sin still harvest pleasure from that sin just from the memory of that sin?” The answer is yes, because of the deceitfulness of your own heart and the sinful tendencies of your flesh and your memory. Memory is a good thing, it’s a gift from God. And before the fall it was put in there so that you could sustain a relationship. How could you sustain a relationship with anybody if you couldn’t remember anything? That’s what happens with Alzheimer’s. You can’t have a relationship with anybody because you can’t remember anything and so there’s no way to build a relationship. You don’t know who they are and you have no history. But sin works on the memory too.
You’re glad for your memory because that’s why you have relationships. And it’s wonderful to reprocess the blessings and benedictions and joys of life. You can think about the good things of life, of how you’re loved and how you love and wonderful experiences and reprocess those and enjoy them. In fact, sometimes you will find that the memory of events that were good is even sweeter than the event when it happened. You can find in your memory the ability to even embellish a – a vacation and make it better than it was because you can’t remember how much it cost. You can embellish the face of a child you haven’t seen or a loved one you haven’t seen and make them even more wonderful and beautiful than they are. So memory rolls through the good things. And that was God’s intention so that we could enjoy the richness of life and savor those kinds of things.
But at the same time, memory has a downside since the fall and that is we – we have a hard time forgetting our sins. And so what happens is, our lustful hearts, a corruption that is in us, recycles those sins and we savor the pleasure of those sins all over again. I’ve talked to many people through the years who have been virtually debilitated by that. People who have been converted out of homosexuality who are no longer engaged in that but who are literally hammered by the memory of those vivid experiences. People who have been married in Christ and they have a marriage in Christ but they remember the life before Christ and all of the promiscuity and all of the immorality. And it is coming back all the time, filtering back through their minds endeavoring to have its corrupting influence.
Sin has a way of reprocessing itself. It’s sometimes a sound or sometimes a smell or sometimes a photograph, or sometimes a common place or a sight that provokes a memory in the mind and temptations come running back. It can be thoughts of anger, it can be thoughts of vengeance. It can be old hatreds that long ago should have been forgotten. All kinds of tempting memories lodge in the mind and produce new sins every time we cycle back and find pleasure in remembering the sin.
In Ezekiel 23 in verse 19, the Lord condemned Israel and He – He condemned Israel for recycling old sins. And He did it with an interesting analogy. He compared Israel to a harlot. And this was His charge against her. “She multiplied her harlotries.” How did she multiply her harlotries? “By remembering the days of her youth.” She not only sinned in the present but she recycled all the sin in the past. And He said, you know, that’s what Israel has done. Israel not only is playing the harlot now, Israel is not only being unfaithful to Me, the true and living God, with other gods, Israel is not only now engaged in unfaithfulness, disloyalty and immorality, but they are even enjoying remembering the pleasures of sin in Egypt.
This practice can be devastating. And if you do this, it hardens your conscience. If when these old memories come back they aren’t immediately expelled and rejected because the conscience is so tender, if you can savor those things and dwell on those things, you are putting scar tissue over your conscience which is dulling its effectiveness. Searing the conscience, the Bible calls it. Your own corrupt nature will take the garbage out of your past and try to drag it back through your minds so that you relive it again. That’s why you better be careful about your life. You better be careful about your experiences. You better be careful about what you see, what you watch, what you read. You look at something you shouldn’t look at. And it isn’t just in that moment that you’re tempted. That vision, that viewpoint can be recycled right back through again, like time and time, put a lurid image in your mind. Time and time again it processes its way back.
Secondly, not only is the staging for temptation in remembering, but it’s in scheming, scheming. This looks at the future, not the past. And the Bible has a lot to say about people who plan sin. In Psalm 36 it says, “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart.” Boy, that is true. “Transgression speaks to the ungodly in his heart,” Psalm 36:1. And then in that same section, verses 1 to 4, it says, “He plans wickedness on his bed.” In the quietness of the night when he’s undisturbed by activity and he’s lying on his bed, the evil that is in him begins to map out future iniquity. “He sets himself” – says the psalmist – “on a path that is not good because he doesn’t hate evil.” In Psalm 64 it says of the wicked people, “They devise injustices, saying, ‘We are ready with a well-conceived plot’; for the inward thought and the heart of a man are deep.”
What is going on in those quiet moments? What is going on in the silence of the bed? What is going on when you’re still and activity has come to its halt is very often among the evil, the devising of future schemes of iniquity. Proverbs 12:2 says, “A good man will obtain favor from the Lord, but He will condemn a man who devises evil.” Proverbs 12:20 says, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,” who plan it. Proverbs 14:22 says again, “Those who go astray devise evil.” Proverbs 15:26, “Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord.” Proverbs 6 says, “The Lord hates a heart that devises wicked plans.”
The devising of – of any kind of folly, any kind of iniquity is an abomination to God. Some people do a lot of this, scheming, planning for evil that they will do. “If I ever see that person I’m going to” – and you get the speech in your mind and plan your evil. Thoughts of anger, hatred, lust, greed, envy, covetousness, discontent, selfishness, pride, every other evil thing. Don’t reach back for the sins of the past, don’t reach forward and plan sins.
Well there’s a third way, let’s just call that sins of imagining. We’re talking about the heart. The heart sins by looking into the past, it sins by looking in the future and it sins by imagining in the present. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “If a man looks on a woman to commit adultery, he’s as guilty of adultery as if he did it.” Matthew 5. You may have no intention of performing the deed, but if you imagine it, you have guilt. The heart begins to imagine sins before it acts them out. And every one of these imagined sins, and every one of these schemes, and every one of these remembrances offend a healthy conscience.
You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to feed on anything that leads you toward sin, whether it’s the past, present or the future. Because if – if it works up into your heart, it’s a sin before God. It’s destructive, debilitating, potentially deadly and it may well manifest itself. And the Bible says, “Be sure your sins will find you out.” The world understands this, by the way. They really do understand this. They understand how to make people sin. The world is adept at generating covetousness, right? Very good at generating lust, very good at corrupting morals, very good at destroying the family, very good at raising people’s anger, hostility. They know how to excite the heart in this system because that’s how they live, that’s how the world lives.
Just one little illustration of that that’s an interesting one. It is a fact that people are more angry between 4:00 and 6:00 on the freeway than any other part of the day. They commute; by the time they get to 4:00 or 5:00 or 6:00 or 7:00 when they’re on their way home, they’ve worked a hard day, they have had certain disappointments and certain conflicts and whatever and they’re really mad. And then they’re on the freeway having to deal with everybody just below the line of road rage, and they’re angry.
So the world knows that the people you want to put on the air on talk radio are the kind of people who are angry already. So you get the angry, most confrontive, combative, hostile, loud-mouthed, rancorous trouble makers and you put them on between 4:00 and 6:00, and they take the anger already there in the people who are listening to that stuff and they elevate it and make them furious. And, therefore, these people can achieve their agenda. The world system works in every way conceivable to do that. Anything the system can do to elevate sin in the heart. Even the health, wealth and prosperity preachers work real hard to produce covetousness in people. In case you wonder they’re a part of the church or the system, they’re part of the system not the church.
So that’s how the heart sins. Now you need to know those things because that’s how the sin is staged. That’s how temptation is staged. That brings to – to the table the question, what do I do about it? What – what am I going to do about it? How – how do I deal with this? And that’s really what I want to talk about. I’m not going to say anything that’s particularly new. I just want to rehearse again what we know to be true. We’ve got to deal with sin in the heart. How do we do that?
Well first of all, you can’t do it through legalism. You can’t do it through making rules on the outside about how people conduct themselves. If you don’t get to the heart, legalism isn’t going to accomplish anything. Legalism is like trying to capture people in a plastic bag. It just isn’t strong enough to hold and they’ll break out. Legalism will not do it. Just making rules and forcing people to conform to rules won’t go. Monasticism won’t do it either, taking a vow of poverty and going off to live in a cave. If you’re the only one there you just took the problem. It’s you. Pietism won’t do it. Trying to go through some extreme form of self-denial and spiritual flagellation and deprivation in an effort to externally discipline yourself and cut yourself off from those things that corrupt won’t do it.
Neither will quietism, sitting back flopping somewhere, saying “I’m going to let go and let God.” Phariseeism won’t do it, confessional booths won’t do it, rosary beads won’t do it, Hail Marys won’t do it. There isn’t any other external means that will do it because the instrument of killing sin on the inside, the instruments of doing that are only two. They are the Word of God and the Spirit of God. And unless that’s where the concentration is, unless the focus is on the truth of God and the Spirit of God in the heart, all the stuff that deals with the outside, all the religious rituals and motions and emotions and all of the efforts at self-denial and deprivation and all the rules are meaningless. You’ve got to work on the problem in the heart.
So let me just suggest a few things. One – and these are what come out of Scripture, abstain from fleshly lust. I think this is so interesting. First Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” Isn’t that interesting? Peter doesn’t say, “Go get therapy.” Peter doesn’t say, “This is really a long process and somehow we’ve got to put you through this process and it’s a very difficult one.” He doesn’t say, “You know, you’re a victim, there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re a fallen creature living in a fallen body, so yeah, really not going to be any way you’re going to be able to get over this. Just live with it, deal with it.” He doesn’t say that. He says stop it. Stop doing it. “Abstain from fleshly lusts,” the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, stop it, he says.
That assumes you have the capability, right? That assumes Romans 6, “Sin no longer has dominion over you. You once were the slaves of sin, you’re now become servants of righteousness.” First Corinthians 6, “Flee immorality,” which assumes that you can do that. Peter just says stop. It’s not an addiction for which you’re not responsible. It’s not something overwhelming. Stop! You can do it. It cannot be done for you, it cannot be done by somebody else, there’s no some kind of formula here, just stop and stop now cultivating sin in your heart, Stop! Just remember that you’re dead to sins.” Just like James, “Resist the devil and he’ll flee.” Stop sinning, resist the devil.
You say, “Well, yeah, but how do I do that?” Well here’s the number two, “Make no provision for the flesh.” Make no provision for the flesh. Romans 13:14 Paul says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust.” If you’re going to stop these evil desires, desires for evil, any kind of evil – if you’re going to stop it, you can’t accommodate it. You can’t feed it. Stop reciting what makes you angry about a person. Stop reciting all the offenses that that person has rendered against you. Stop keeping a record of the wrong that they’ve done. Stop all of that.
Stop exposing yourself to lurid images and pictures, stop exposing yourself to those things that appeal to the flesh. Stop exposing yourself to those things making you a proud individual. Stop. Stop feeding your own ego. Stop! Because you’ll never be able to abstain from fleshly lusts if you don’t stop making provision for it. If you feed the monster, the monster lives. If you starve the monster, the monster dies. So refuse to furnish your mind the things that excite your desires.
And then on a positive side, fix your heart on Christ. Fix your heart on Christ. “We all,” – 2 Corinthians 3:18 – “with unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” That says it. As we gaze at the glory of the Lord, we’re transformed from one level of glory to the next, to the next, to the next more and more like Christ. But you have to fix your heart on Christ, be focused on Christ. You can’t be focused on Christ and focused on sin at the same time.
If you focus on Christ, 1 John 3 says, if you have that hope in you, then you purify yourself. It’s a spiritual axiom that you become like what you worship. You become like what you worship. If you worship money, you literally become like it, shallow, trivial, easily bought, easily sold, relationships dictated by economics. If you lust for popularity and fame and a career and whatever without regard for what is right or what is the purpose of God, it will really define who you are. Whoever you worship you become like.
As we fix our hearts on Christ, we discover our preoccupation with Christ is a process by which we are conformed to Him. So if I want to abstain from fleshly lust, then I can’t accommodate those lusts. That is to say I can’t focus on anything that feeds them. On the other hand, I focus everything on Christ. I become completely preoccupied with Him. There’s no one like Him. You know, it would be a good thing for you when you’re driving, instead of sitting in your car and getting angry, put in the Bible on tape or the Bible on CD and listen to the gospels and rehearse the story of Jesus Christ. Let Him occupy your thoughts.
The next thing, meditate on the Word of God. Meditate on the Word of God. “Thy Word I have treasured in my heart,” – said David – “that I might not sin against you,” Psalm 119. “We are to meditate on it day and night,” Psalm 1. “Meditate on it day and night, do what’s written in it,” Joshua 1:8. “It is a lamp to our feet, a light to our path,” it confronts sin, it attacks sin. Fill your mind and heart with the Word of God. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in Thy truth, Thy Word is truth.” Fill your heart with it, load your mind with it, ponder it carefully. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there’s any excellence or anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things,” Philippians 4:8. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly,” Colossians 3:16. I mean, you – you can stop if you don’t accommodate the lust by feeding it and if you focus on Christ and focus on the Word.
Another practical point. “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer is a preemptive strike. In Luke 22:40, Jesus said, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Do you ever pray like that? Lord, please lead us not into temptation. It doesn’t mean that He’s going to willfully lead you into a tempting situation. All you’re really praying is, “Lord, please order the steps of my life so that I am not led into such a place.” In Matthew 26:41, Jesus said, “Keep watching and praying so that you may not enter into temptation.” Constant prayer. Psalm 19, “Who can discern his errors?” And then the psalmist prays, “Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not rule over me.” Lord, please protect me from sin. That should be at the very heart and soul of your prayer life.
And then another very practical and obvious thing, exercise self-control. Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5, “Love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.” Self-control is essential. We, says Paul, need to beat the body into submission, making it our slave rather than our master. This is discipline. This is the desire for self-control. And I have said this through the years, and I think it’s true, you have to exercise self-control, in general, in your life to have it really work in the spiritual realm because basically everything in life is a spiritual issue.
And if you’re having problems with self-control in some areas of your life, you’re going to have a very difficult time having self-control in the spiritual dimension of your life. He’s not talking about punishing your body. He’s not talking about flagellation or bodily neglect, not advocating anything that would weaken or injure the body. It was Martin Luther, you remember, who almost destroyed his body with excessive fasting as a young monk, when he discovered in the Bible the just shall live by faith, not by fasting. But you need a watchful self-discipline that refuses to pander to every appetite of the body. Your body doesn’t need to be given everything it desires.
All of this sums up in one thing, be filled with the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit. You’re going to be under the control of something. And you know in Ephesians 5 he says, “Do not be drunk with wine, that’s dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” When you’re drunk with wine, you’re controlled, dominated by it. You no longer are in control. You’ve lost the control. That’s what drunkenness is, you – you do what the wine induces you to do and that’s – in ancient days, they believed that that’s how you ascended to the deities. You had an orgy and you got completely drunk and they thought that was a transcendental experience, like Timothy Leary, you know, in the smoking of marijuana and getting into drugs is a way to elevate yourself to the next level of consciousness. That’s what the pagans believed. And he says, “Look, if you want to ascend to communion with God, don’t get drunk, get filled with the Spirit. Don’t be filled with – with alcohol, be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is to say to be utterly yielded to the Spirit’s control because according to Romans 8:13 we kill sin by the Spirit, that’s the point of Romans 8:12 and 13, we kill sin by the Spirit.
And what are we saying here? We’re saying, look, the Bible doesn’t make this some kind of therapy. It doesn’t make this some kind of long, drawn-out process, doesn’t treat you as some kind of a victim. It simply says stop doing it and stop doing it by stopping the accommodation that panders to your sin. Fix your eyes on Jesus Christ, focus on the Word of God, pray without ceasing, exercise self-discipline, and be filled with the Spirit. This is what Paul was talking about in Philippians 2 when he said, “Work out your salvation.” God worked it in, you work it out and when it’s done, it is really “God who is at work in us to will and to work for His own good pleasure.”
There are other things that could be added to that list, like clothing yourself with humility, like putting away spiteful feelings toward others, loving the brethren, putting on the armor of God, laying aside sinful attitudes, et cetera et cetera. But the sum of it all is live and “walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. And it’s up to you in the strength of the Spirit and the power of God. You’re not a victim, you’re not under the Law, you are not under the mastery and dominance of sin, you do not have to do what is evil, you can live a holy life. Deal with sin in the heart.
Just some reminders and I’ll close. Sin is not killed when it’s just covered up. In fact, if you’re good at covering up your sin, you are feeding a monster. It’s not good just because people don’t know it’s there. It’s not good just because it’s inside. It’s not been killed just because you don’t do it. If you’re feeding it on the inside, it is strong and getting stronger. Proverbs 28:13, “He who conceals his transgression will not prosper.” Sin is not killed when it is only internalized. If you forsake the outward act of sin but feed it on the inside, it’s only a question of time. It is not killed when you exchange one sin for another.
When you say, “Well, I’m not doing that anymore but, unfortunately, I am doing this,” that’s not progress. A lateral move in sin is not progress. Just because you gave up drunkenness for covetousness, that’s not advancing. Sin is not killed until the conscience is appeased. The goal is a good conscience. The goal is to sit in that quiet moment at peace, tranquil, resting with no accusations rising up in your heart to torment you. As long as your conscience is defiled, the battle rages. You want to pursue what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:12, when he said that he had a clear conscience, that he had conducted his life in holiness and godliness because his conscience was clear.
You win the battle on the inside and you will enjoy a clear conscience. You will enjoy the peace, the quietness, the rest, the rejoicing, the deep gladness of a quiet conscience. And when you come up to minister, to speak of Christ or to serve Christ, you will not be assaulted as a hypocrite by your own conscience for the sin that flourishes inside. You’ve got to get beyond just pushing it down, that just strengthens it. That incubates it longer so that when it finally breaks loose it’s more formidable than ever. This is the battle. This is the way we have to live our lives. And the Lord’s Table is a point at which we look at it again and ask, “How am I doing in this spiritual struggle?”
Father, we thank You now for this time. We have heard again the simple truths that relate to this matter of dealing with sin in the heart. Please, Oh God, grace us by the Spirit and the truth to stop sin in the heart, to not accommodate it, not feed it, not provide the experiences and attitudes and images that make it strong. May we, on the other hand, fix our hearts on Christ, meditate on the Word of God, pray without ceasing, exercise self-control and be filled with the Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. May we enjoy – not repress sin, not hidden sin, not secret sin, but may we enjoy a clear conscience not accusing us, but excusing us and filling us with joy, peace, contentment. We ask that You would purify us indeed and cleanse us now as we come to this table. In Your Son’s name. Amen.
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