While Paul says in Romans 7, that ‘sin is in us,’ Jesus also says it is something that we do. Check with me the story of the woman caught in adultery found in John 8:2-11, NIV
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.””
In the first instance Jesus asks the accusers, ‘who is without sin?’ Then later in the passage he says, ‘go and sin no more.’
Consider also the story in which Jesus was tempted found in Matthew 4:1-11, NIV
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Prior to the period of temptation, he was fasting. Granted this would not have been the only time he was tempted. But can we ascribe any significance to the act of prayer and fasting?
I sometimes do not like to pray long prayers…I certainly don’t like fasting. Food is sometimes a ‘problem’ for me. I eat a pretty healthy breakfast and lunch but for supper I tend to fall away. I struggle with discipline.
What does it take to counteract bad habits? As a flu might need NyQuil, an antibiotic, or natural remedies such as echinacea, citrus, water, and rest, or any combination of these, so does a weak and shallow spiritual life needs direction and discipline. If plants need, sunlight, air and water to grow so much more does my soul need to be filled with God’s Spirit, and his Word.
On the other hand, vices are like the things that make a cold worse—artificial sugars, lack of rest, and poor diet. My mind needs protection from the things that make spiritual food seem dull and tasteless.
Exodus 20:3-6 says, ‘…have no other gods before me.’
To stay connected to God I need prayer and to be prayed for. What a blessing if someone has ever prayed for us. I need to fast not just from physical foods but at times from ‘other foods’ in my life.
My Intercessor, though he was without sin was tempted (Hebrews 4:15, NIV: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”)
And how did he withstand? Fasting? The thing that I don’t like. Making good choices? …the challenge to comprehend sin can be mind boggling in and of itself.
Nevertheless, Matthew 17:20-21 says, ‘some things only come through prayer and fasting.’ So there must be something to this.
Lord help me find strength in your Word, in connection with you, through ‘prayer, love, and service (smile) –to be what you want me to be.
This is my prayer. Amen