13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (NIV)
The Bible teaches us that sin is conceived only when our sinful desires push us to partake in temptation. So our struggle is interior and exterior. The enemy presents temptations all around us, but the sinful nature born into us from Adam’s sin craves what is being tempted. Resisting temptation is difficult. Our passage today gives us some insight into how to avoid temptation.
The freedom we have to indulge is found in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. His blood covers our sinfulness meaning we do not receive the due penalty of death when we sin. There are consequences, without a doubt, but we are rescued from the wages of sin. We are free from death and sin. These have no mastery over us. However, this is a problem for us because it creates a quasi-freedom to sin. We are not free in that God has given permission. His standards never change. Our state of salvation makes sin possible without death.
This freedom is wonderful in one way and problematic in the way I just discussed. It is wonderful in the sense that we do not live with the anxiety of losing our salvation every time we sin. The Bible says there is now no condemnation for those who have put their faith in Christ. He saved us knowing the future sin we would create.
However, in this same discourse, Paul says that when the Spirit leads us, we will not gratify our sinful nature. So when the Spirit is leading us, we do not take this freedom for granted by sinning without repentance. A penitent heart reveals the Spirit is leading us. We do our best to turn from sin. But it is possible for our indulgence to lead us away from the Spirit. How can we discipline ourselves?
Paul calls us to serve one another in humility and love. Taking on the mindset of a loving servant keeps our minds closed off more to our sinful cravings. Humility is the first step to this mindset. To avoid temptation, we need daily spiritual practices to remind us we are not God and that God has been so good to us. Meditating on these two things daily will help us to avoid temptation.
Prayer: Lord, help me each day this week to spend time reminding myself I am not God and all You have done for me. Make me a loving servant. Amen.