In these verses, the apostle Peter urges us to follow Christ's example in choosing to suffer, rather than fail to please God. Peter says that when we suffer in our flesh, sin loses its power over us. He's speaking of dying to our own will, and submitting to God's. If I told you that you could be free from your sinful habits if you suffered for a while first, would you do it? Aren't you already suffering, while you're at the mercy of your destructive behavior?
Let me share with you some things I have learned from undergoing this process of breaking free from a sinful habit or behavior. First, agree with God that you are sinning, because we have a tendency to lie to ourselves in order to continue our ungodly behavior. Then, repent with all your heart and ask for God's forgiveness every time you commit the sin. I find that this reinforces my shame over the offense, and helps me to build up a holy determination which eventually enables me to break free. Call out to God and ask for His help. Sometimes I have done this many times a day, often with tears. Ask God what your part is in the process. Then take one or two steps to prove to God that you are serious about quitting. Keep your focus on Him. This is one of the most important steps to freedom. Every time your focus starts to shift to whatever tempts you, immediately bring it back to God, His will, and His Word.
The apostle Paul wrote: "For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 AMP) When we are tempted to sin, our minds will often try to come up with reasons to justify our sinful behavior. If we don't reject these thoughts immediately, we will act on them. We will never be able to control our behavior if we don't control our thoughts. It takes practice, but with God's help, it can be done.
First Corinthians 10:13 (TLB) says: "But remember this - the wrong desires that come into your life aren't anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation's power so that you can bear up patiently against it." God has promised us a way out of every temptation. Look for it. Sometimes your escape will involve avoiding certain people, places, or things. Remember that every time you resist temptation, sin's hold on you grows weaker, and it becomes easier for you to resist the next time. The only way we can fail in this process is to quit and give up. Instead, let's adopt the attitude of the apostle Paul when he said, "By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back"! (Philippians 3:13-14 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, I ask that You bring to light the sins You want me to deal with at this time. Teach me how to die to my own will, and to live according to Yours. Remind me that it's not always Satan tempting me, but it's often my own evil desires. (James 1:14) Show me which people You would like me to separate myself from right now. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) Tell me what places You would have me stop going to. And reveal to me what things I have been exposing myself to that I need to avoid from now on. Thank You that "I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power"! (Philippians 4:13 TLB)
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