Thur., Apr. 7/22
Psychology suggests three primary approaches in dealing with one’s inner destructive propensities: expression, suppression, and diversion (calming). Expression seeks to find some acceptable level or output for one’s behavior. Suppression suggests the individual pause to think about their urge in hopes of converting it to something wholesome. Diversion (calming) directs one to control their internal physical responses such as lowering heart rate, etc until the undesirable urges subside.
These may be of benefit in combating some tendencies, but the Christian realizes the difference between bad learned responses or habits and inherent sinful lusts and works of fallen flesh. Paul writes,
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:16-18).
As long as a person is trying to manage these sinful tendencies on their own they will fail. Such a one is trapped in the snare of still attempting to attain righteousness by self-effort… by works, not faith! Paul was shocked when he saw this in the Galatian believers. He wrote, “How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 3:3, NLT). He was “astonished” (1:6) that they would do such a thing saying it was as though they had been “bewitched.” (3:1).
God does not expect you to manage your sin… to keep it inside. (See below). God expects you to surrender it to Him. That was the deal, remember? We give Him our sin, and He gives us His righteousness! He’s already paid for your sin, taken your stripes, your thorns, your beatings, your nails and the spit of others. He bore your cross, took your sin and isolation from the Father. Let Him replace what boils within you. This is what Paul said the Galatians must do: ”Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16a).
Christ gives us a new heart – His. He enables us to turn the other cheek, walk the second mile, surrender our spare cloak to him who has none, bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, suffer wrongs, hope against hope, bear with one another, sow peace, be salt, and light, boldly witness, humbly wash another’s feet, give thanks in all things and rejoice from within our trials. Allow Him expression through your life and your fleshly lusts will wither.
“Keeping it inside” is always destructive: Physically, it can lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tension, heart attack, hernia, glaucoma, stroke, hives, asthma, ulcers, migraines, back pain, psoriasis and a general shortening of one’s life expectancy. Psychologically, it can cause chronic anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sleep disorders, obsessive-compulsiveness, loneliness and phobias. Socially, it disrupts relationships and inhibits personal and professional achievement, the individual adopts a mood which alienates them from others including spouse and children. Spiritually, the worst damage of all occurs: it alienates a person from God!