Temptation is everywhere and we all know it. Sometimes it shows itself at Costco when we see a “deal that we can’t pass up” or it shows up at work when we don’t need to “tell the whole story” Or we agree to get “creative with the accounting” because our boss told us to. I’d like to talk about the type of temptations that shape us as people, not those that tempt our waistlines or willpower like a donut or one more glass of wine. The people in our lives, the experiences that we’ve had and what we’ve been taught all shape our morals and values. Values are the inner judgments that determine how we will behave and morals are about how we execute those judgments. While some people interchange those definitions, it is clear that they are different but both of them influence how we behave.
When we don’t experience negative consequences from “deceiving or cheating” our brain stamps it, “okay for use again”. We will continue to deceive ourselves until there are consequences and we are forced to “re-learn” to do it right. The best way to continue to train our brains is for us to keep doing the right thing, even when no one is looking; being people of integrity. If we give in, we are only deceiving ourselves and that will have life-long implications.
Romans 13:12 – “…let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
An armor of light sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I envision a brilliant white, shining armor chest plate and a matching shield. What can’t you defend off with such protection? We know, of course, that the white armor is the protection given to us from our Savior, Jesus Christ. He has clothed us in white as we go through our lives “not guilty” of sin because of His sacrifice for us. We must guard that our light does not dim by remaining true to our Father in Heaven and to His Son, our Savior.
Our light dims every time we submit to darkness. When we do not live, as God wants us to, we dim our light. The good news however is that our confession of those sins and our faith in Jesus Christ allows our light to shine brightly once more. We all know people who have fallen in to darkness. We have a responsibility to shine our light on their lives and show them the way. Reassure them that they too, can put on an armor of light by turning their lives back toward God and then “get fitted for their suit” through Jesus Christ. We do not ever have to live in darkness; Jesus is our light.
This week I’ll be combining the message with the theme, which I hope is apparent at the end. I thought that I’d mix it up and this was a perfect way to do that.
This week the United States is celebrating “Independence Day” on July 4th. This is the day we celebrate our separation from England in 1776. Americans proudly talk about freedom and strength on the 4th of July. It is a great time of year because it happens at the start of summer. People are embracing the summer weather (unless you live in Arizona, its been “summer” since April) while most kids are planning a long summer away from schoolwork. People will celebrate the day with a barbeque, friends, and a few cold drinks and simply relaxing. The night is usually capped with a fireworks display to commemorate the rockets of the battle we fought. This year the holiday falls on a Friday so it is a three-day weekend for most everyone.
There is another independence day that happened on a Friday but we celebrate it in the spring – Good Friday. Independence, you ask? Yes, a separation from the power of the devil in our lives. “21But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” Romans 3:21-28
Paul’s letter describes our freedom from the guilt and power of sin. We are free from the law and yet remain redeemed. We are “justified freely” by God’s grace because of what Jesus did for us. American freedom comes with constraints just as God’s justice (punishment) was handed down through Christ; our freedom was also won through Him. We are free from sin not through our own work but through our faith in Christ and the righteousness of God. U.S. freedom today was won by the heroic acts of brave people fighting our enemy in 1776. We did nothing to earn it today. Jesus took the heroic fight against the power of sin and the devil and won our freedom too. This Friday is another Good Friday for us to celebrate our freedom (whether you are in the US or not). We are truly free “and justified freely by His grace through Christ Jesus.” Remain strong in faith and stay safe!