Sometimes it can seem so difficult to give up those sins that we secretly treasure, but that we know are hampering our full fellowship with God. Now, let me be clear, though it may be difficult to give them up, the Bible teaches that these sins must be put to death. As Thomas Brooks said, “The man who makes a practice of sin takes it on as another nature which he cannot and will not lay aside. But you must lay it aside! If sin and your soul do not part, then Christ and your soul cannot meet.”
How then do we lay it aside? What power has God given us to do that which seems beyond our ability? Sometimes we think it is through sheer white-knuckled effort that we overcome sin. Now if that were the case we would hardly need Christ nor the Holy Spirit. God has a different means of overcoming sin, one which David recognized in his great cry of repentance in Psalm 51. In verse 10 David recognizes his inability to cleanse his own heart and appeals to God to “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
This morning I came across some helpful words from Robert Murray McCheyne that I think will bring encouragement to this sin-killing task,
By nature we love sin, the world, and the things of the world, although we know that the wages of sin is death. Now, to cure this I can imagine a man setting himself down deliberately to cross all his corrupted passions, to restrain all his appetites, to reject and trample on all the objects that the natural heart is set upon. This is the very system recommended by Satan, anti-Christ, and the world.
But there is a far more excellent way, which the Holy Spirit makes use of in sanctifying us – not the way of changing the objects, but the way of changing the affections; not by external restraint, but by an internal renewing. As is said in Ezekiel, ‘I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my judgments to do them’ (11:19-20).
If anyone has been deceived by the detestable heresy of the world – as if keeping of the commandments by the saints were grievous and unwilling service – let that person open his eyes to the true nature of holiness. God does not offer to work in you to do without first working in you to will. He does not offer to pluck from you your favorite objects, but he offers to give you a new taste for higher objects. Just as the boy finds it no hardship to cast away toys and trifles that were his best friends in childhood, so the saint feels no hardship in casting away wretched playthings that so long amused and cheated the soul. Behold the Spirit of God has opened up a new world to the admiring, enamored gaze of the believer in Jesus.
Pray today that God would create a clean heart in you and that the Holy Spirit might give you a love for higher things that would drive out all inferior love for the pleasure of sin.