Monday, November 4, 2013

When to Cut Out that Habit!

Yesterday in our Life Group (a small home group that studies the Bible, prays together, and serves together in a local area) we heard of the "Change of Kingdoms" from the world/self/Satan over to Jesus Christ we have through faith by grace (God's unearned mercy).  We also heard of "The Battle for Holiness" on knowing the tactics the enemy uses to trick Christians to not grow in purity for God and then the methods of growing in purity.  Both were chapters out of the great, but short book, The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges.  An unjustly short summary of these would be:  God makes you right with Him (righteous) by your dying with Christ (Romans 6:1-12) and being raised spiritually to a new kind of life, so that by remembering that after you are saved, you can pursue kingdom goals (like various forms of purity, Romans 6:1-12). 

In my own Bible reading, there is a powerful change passage in the Gospel of Mark 9, verses 42 to 50 that really zooms in on this habit theme.  Jesus is teaching.  The disciples are around.  People have questions in the crowd.  Jesus has just driven a demon out of a boy which none of the disciples could do since it required prayer and they had not even prayed about it.  Jesus is going then into this battle for personal holiness that belongs to Christ followers.  He says what appears to be a stumbling block to log headed seperatist groups that over literalize things, "And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell."  Of course, none of them ever do that.  I firmly believe the Bible is to be taken literally, but in its context.  Language allows expressions to make a literal point, and this is one of those, as I do not see anyone cutting off their foot today who ignores that.  This expression means...

A Christ follower will take radical steps to cut sin out of their life.  If your foot is carrying you past the prostitutes house, the computer with pornography access, the time to access an online pop magazine that encourages greed in you, the neighbor's house that loves what you struggle against in sin, you will cut it off.  You will no longer allow that 'route' of your feet to that place to stay in place.  Just as the gospel refers to feet that carry the good news of peace, so this is the flip side, cutting out routes that disable your serving the Lord.  You will disable it, by avoiding it, for the glory of God in your life.

Application:  How radical are you about changing where you go?  Most of us probably as creatures of habit and in spiritual sloth do not change.  But God calls you to take a different road, to avoid that computer, to not go to that one neighbors house, so that you can show for a walk with Jesus Christ instead.  It's better, believe that.  Today is the day to walk differently.

Also, Jesus continues this language to make a literal point, 9:47 "And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell," and with this the same idea.  No one is taking out their eyes.  The way of talking in the Greek or Aramaic was understood by the hearers to underline the necessity of cutting out access, not the eye.  One's feet or eyes do not make one unholy.  One's own heart inclination when it is entertained and it works against a plan of God and it is allowed to come to fruition makes one unholy in an action (understand, NOT salvation, just your walk with Jesus). 

Application:  How radical are you about what you see?  What can steer you to wrong plans, will you cut it out?  The sooner you make the change the better.

God bless you!

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