“Stop Sinning”

That’s what Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth (1Cor.15:34), though it was preceded with the admonition to “Become sober-minded as you ought,” and added that such instructions even being necessary was “to your (their) shame.”  Given these things, one of two things is possible: 1) Paul was speaking exclusively to Corinthians about the specific sins he previously outlined in the letter, and thus the command doesn’t apply to us; or, 2) we present-day Christians are far too comfortable with OUR sin(s), probably because we’ve been convinced or have convinced ourselves that “stop sinning” is a noble notion as a goal, but practically impossible to accomplish.  (Pause for a minute or three if you want to think about it before proceeding.)

Some things on which we can ALL think further:

  • We don’t “have to” sin, we choose to sin, or we allow temptation to overcome us rather than overcoming temptation, cf.1Cor.10:12 and Jas.1:2-4,12.  We do sin, all-too-often for most of us, and God lovingly and graciously makes provision for our forgiveness we do, 1John 1:7-10.  And “yes” there are times when our “spirit is willing” but our “flesh is weak” (Matt.26:41), but we can and should do better, including me!
  • Do we even want to “stop sinning”?  Put another way, do we really want to please God (Eph.5:10), or are we content with just pleasing ourselves?  Note Phil.3:18-19 in this connection, “For many walk, of whom I have often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite (lit. “belly” referring to ‘desires’), and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.”  We won’t “stop sinning” as long as we want to please ourselves more than we want to please God. 
  • Are we willing to avoid the people, places, and activities that make it difficult to “stop sinning”?  Put another way, are we willing to change our habits and associations that make sinning easy or at least “easier?  Consider what Paul wrote to Roman Christians, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts,” Rom.13:14.  We won’t “stop sinning” as long as we continue to make Satan’s job effortless for him by going places, doing things, and associating with people who make sin easy for us.  
  • Are we actively working to “stop sinning”?  It’s not just a matter of “not doing” some things with some people.  We need positive or pro-active people, places, and pursuits also.  It’s the “not, but” principle.  For instance, it’s easier to avoid the “works/deeds of the flesh” and crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” if we’re actively pursuing the “fruit of the Spirit,” cf. Gal.5:16-24.  “Not” these, “but” those.  Likewise, it’s easier to rid our minds of sinful thoughts and desires if we’re filling them with true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, (spiritually) attractive, excellent, and praise-worthy thoughts, cf. Phil.4:8.  We won’t “stop sinning” unless we start living/walking “by the Spirit,” Gal.5:16.
  • Are you getting better at “stop sinning”?  Progress is important.  A baby doesn’t begin to walk and run without a few falls.  But with “practice,” growth and “maturity” enable our “senses” to not only “discern good and evil,” but to do a better job of avoiding evil and doing good, Heb.5:14.  But to get better, which in this context means making progress toward “stop sinning,” we have to actually want to “stop sinning;” we have to be willing to stop doing things with people who make “stop sinning” harder; we have to start doing things with people who make “stop sinning” easier; and we have to be willing to continuously make progress toward “stop sinning” through a genuine desire and commitment to “do better next time.” 

So, are you willing to commit to “stop sinning,” or content to comfort yourself with excuses and presumed justifications?  Think again about what the Holy Spirit through Paul told the Corinthians, “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God, I speak this to your shame,” 1Cor.15:34.  What would the Holy Spirit have to say to you and me???  

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