In part 1 we saw that as Christ-followers we are not obligated to sin. The hard truth is we sin because we want to, because we choose to! So, how do we change our choices? How do we stop being overrun by the temptations of this world?
Years ago while serving as a chaplain to a college football team I was involved in discipleship relationships with a large number of young Christian men. We would meet weekly for 30 minutes and go down through the standard accountability questions. And with men in college, the conversation always came around to sexual purity.
I remember one young man boasting he had done all his weekly Bible reading, memorized his verses, and kept up a good prayer habit. But, he sheepishly confessed, he had fallen into sin with his girlfriend. He told me he was simply powerless to fight off the temptation when it came calling his name.
On a whim I asked him "if, just at the point you are about to engage in immoral activity, I burst into your room with ten $100 bills, and say I'll give them to you if you tell her to leave right now, how would you respond?" I will never forget his answer: "She would be out of there!"
What I learned that day, and through further study of Scripture, is the only way to overcome a passion for sin is to build an overwhelming passion for righteousness. The greatest passion you have will always win!
The Apostle Paul tells us, in Ephesians 6:16, the shield of faith has the ability to quench the fiery darts of temptation. The stronger your faith, the more it will allow you to extinguish the power of temptation.
But just what is faith? Let me give you a good working definition I have used for years, based on Hebrews 11:1, 6: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen ... And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Here we see faith is first a conviction, and secondly a necessity. Without it we can't please God, but with it we can overcome sin. This faith has two main points: 1) a belief in the reality that is God, as revealed in the Bible, and 2) a belief that God rewards those who seek to obey him.
I put it all together this way: Faith is a life-dominating conviction that all God has for me through obedience is better by far than anything the world or Satan can offer me through selfishness and sin.
We sin because we choose to, and because at that moment, our sense that God knows what's best is not the dominant force in our lives. To overcome sin we must build an overwhelming faith that can, more and more, shield us from the fiery arrows of temptation.
(For the whole story, go to Amazon and buy The Obedience Option. There is a direct link on my blog under Latest Publications.)