“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” Matthew 9:9 ESV
When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, Matthew certainly could have allowed his lucrative job as tax collector stand in his way, but he didn’t. He immediately began walking on the path Christ was laying out before him.
Our innate willingness to make excuses for sin and allow it – even welcome it – into our lives encourages the proliferation of obstacles in front of us which creates a ‘minefield’ of sorts, thereby making travel on the “Path to Freedom” quite perilous.
Stepping through that minefield involves not merely walking around those dangerous obstacles, but requires us to eliminate them completely as we go. In order to do that, we must give up things which seem to be generally accepted and legitimized by today’s society.
I thought it might help to illustrate what must be done by posting today’s devotion from my book, “TODAY IS….A Gift From God”.
a wonderful day to consider what we are willing to give up.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:24 NLT
What a beautiful statement Paul makes here. What are we willing to give up to belong to Christ? If we are going to “nail the passions and desires of [our] sinful nature to His cross,” we probably need to look at what, exactly, constitutes our “sinful nature.”
Let’s face the reality of the situation: Many of us have grown quite comfortable with our sinful nature. So comfortable, in fact, that in many cases, we don’t even recognize some of our behavior as being sinful. So much sin has been legitimized in society and has been thrust upon us as “our right” or as “legal behavior” that many of us fail to realize that simply because man says something is permissible doesn’t mean that God agrees.
Take profanity, for instance. There was a time when profanity was not allowed on television. Time, lawsuits, challenges and the relaxing of standards has changed all of that and profanity, from the ‘mild’ to the ‘wild’ is available for all to hear, to learn and to repeat. If it’s on TV it must be ok, right? Wrong!
While society’s position on profanity has changed, God’s position is the same today as it was yesterday, and as it will be tomorrow: “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” (Matthew 15:11 NLT). And, writing to the Colossians, Paul said, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8 NIV).
Are we ready to nail profanity to the cross? How about all those other things on Paul’s list? Are we ready to give them up as well and nail them to the cross? Do we allow pornography into our lives because society has accepted it? Do we commit adultery because “everyone else does it?”
To nail the passions and desires of our sinful natures to the cross of Christ, we must be willing to give up the things that we do, the things that we say, and the thoughts that we have that occur as a result of those passions and desires.
It is important to note that being a Christian is not a one way street. It is not just about what we are willing to give up. It is also about the things we are able to receive as a result of giving up our sinful passions and desires.
After we have stripped ourselves of sin all that is left is to, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.” (Colossians 3:10 NLT).
And that alone is worth our giving up a lot of things that are worthless!
Words are easy to write, even easier to read, and the ones above are no different than any others in that respect. The more society portrays sinful lifestyles as being the ‘norm’, the harder it becomes for us to nail those sins to the cross. The dangers continue to spread out before us, much like minefields which are used to slow the forward progress of opposing armies, and stepping through those minefields becomes an increasingly more difficult challenge to overcome. Far too often, it is deemed easier to let that minefield completely stop our progress along the path Christ lays before us than it is to actually clear it.
No one ever said following Christ would be easy, but is it worth it?
While I struggle with sin and fall short with greater frequency than I would like, I can honestly say that the vast majority of ‘mines’ that used to block my path have all been removed and nailed to the cross.
And I assure you, it is, indeed, worth it!