When We Are Drawn Away from Obedience

Deceit of the mind is carried on by degrees, little by little.  We are first drawn away from watchfulness, then from obedience.  We become like Ephraim, of whom God said, “Strangers devour his strength, yet he does not know it; gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, yet he does not know it” (Hosea 7:9).  We are drawn away from watchfulness by overconfidence.  We come to believe we are beyond a particular temptation.  We look at some else’s fall and say, “I would never do that.”  But Paul warned us, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (I Corinthians 10:12).  Even when helping a fallen brother, we are to watch ourselves lest we also be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

We are often drawn away from obedience by the abuse of grace.  Jude speaks of certain men “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 4).  We abuse grace when we think we can sin and then receive forgiveness by claiming I John 1:9.  We abuse grace when, after sinning, we dwell on the compassion and mercy of GOd to the exclusion of His holiness and hatred of sin.

We are drawn away from obedience when we begin to question what God says in His Word.  This was Satan’s first tactic with Eve (Genesis 3:1-5).  Just as he said to Eve, “You surely shall not die!” so he says to us “It is just a little thing!” or “God will not judge that sin.”

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 67-68

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Though It Wages War, It Has No Mastery

The third thing we must understand about indwelling sin is that it sends to deceive our understanding or reasoning. Our reason, enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, stands in the way of sin gaining mastery over us through our desires.  Therefore Satan’s great “deceitful desires” of the old self (Ephesians 4:22).  He said that we were at one time “deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3).  These passages speak of our old life, but we must realize that this deceit still wages war against us, though it no longer has mastery over us.

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 67

When Desire Overcomes Reason

The seat of indwelling sin, then, is our deceitful, unsearchable heart.  A second thing we should realize is that indwelling sin works largely through our desires.  Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man has listened to his desires more than his reasons.  Desire has come to be the strongest faculty of man’s heart.  The next time you face one of your typical temptations, watch for the struggle between your desires and your reason.  If you give in to temptation, it will be because desire has overcome reason in the struggle to influence your will.  The world recognizes this and makes appeals to our desires through what the writer of Hebrews calls the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25)

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 65-66

We Must Know Something of Its Nature and Tactics

If we are to wage a successful war against this enemy within, it is important that we know something of its nature and tactics.  First of all, the Scripture indicates that the seat of indwelling sin is the heart. “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean” (Mark 7:21-23; see also Genesis 6:5 and Luke 6:45)

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 63

We Must Discover and Understand Its Strength

Through our union with Christ in His death we are delivered from the dominion of sin.  But we still find sin struggling to gain mastery over us, as Paul depicted so vividly: “When I want to do good, evil is tight there with me” (Romans 7:21).  We may not like the fact that we have this lifelong struggle with sin, but the more we realize and accept it, the better equipped we will be to deal with it.  The more we discover about the strength of indwelling sin, the less we feel its effects.  To the extent that we discover this law of sin within ourselves, we will abhor and fight against it.

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 62

Courting Disaster In the Pursuit of Holiness

So we see that God has made provision for our holiness.  Through Christ He has delivered us from sin’s reign so that we now can resist sin.   But the responsibility for resisting is ours.  God does not do that for us.  To confuse the potential for resisting (which God provided) with the responsibility for resisting (which is ours) is to court disaster in our pursuit of holiness.

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 60

Sin Does Reign in Our Mortal Bodies

Therefore, though sin no longer reigns in us, it will constantly try to get at us.  Though we have been delivered from the kingdom of sin and its rule, we have not been delivered from its attacks.  As Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones says in his exposition of Romans 6, though sin cannot reign in us, that is, in our essential personality, it can, if left unchecked, reign in our mortal bodies.  It will turn the natural instincts of our bodies into lust.  It will turn our natural appetites into indulgence, our need for clothing and shelter into materialism, and our normal sexual interest into immorality.

– Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, Navpress, copyright 1978, page 59