“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word…
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.”
Psalm 119:9, 15-16
“[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep,
but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:24-25
How often, when tempted by sin, do I begin a debate within myself? Debating how bad it really is…contemplating consequences or any apparent lack thereof…trying to talk myself out of it—or perhaps really to talk myself into it, seeking to justify the action and lessen its sinfulness in my eyes.
Even if my effort seems to be to talk myself away from the temptation, all of the debate only weakens me to give in. I have found that if I allow myself even a moment of contemplation, the temptation gains a foothold and resistance becomes much more difficult.
There must be an immediate declaration, right at the first whisper of temptation. As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “I can’t do this terrible wickedness, for I am Christ’s.” Don’t try to reason with the sin. Call it out for what it is. Terrible wickedness. Defiance against our holy God who wraps Himself in light, who is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all.
I am Christ’s. This statement carries weight. It means something. In reality, it means everything. I have been bought with a price. Not with money or gold or jewels, but with something much more precious: the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes:
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has…Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought with a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.”
How appalling it is that we would contemplate treating such grace so cheaply that we would hesitate in moments of temptation. Even more so that we would not merely hesitate, but would seek out sinful opportunity. Those of us who have been made alive through the sacrifice of Christ, whose sins have been forgiven and who are freed to walk and run and dance in the paths of righteousness, enjoying the abiding presence and delightful glory of our Lord—may we never use our freedom in Christ to pursue wicked desires of the flesh. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).
Let us determine unreservedly, in this moment, that we will continually remind ourselves what our salvation cost—putting it before our eyes, calling it to our minds and storing it up in our hearts.
Recall often the determination with which our Savior set His eyes upon the cross:
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” John 12:27-28a
“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him…
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing,
remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:39-44
As we keep our Savior before our eyes—His life, His death, His victorious resurrection—may we declare with joy and confidence, “I am Christ’s!” Let us suffer no temptation to stand. Endeavor to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, emphasis added).
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight,
and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus,
the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”