Fighting Sin In The Moment

I had the pleasure of spending two days listening to Mark Dever and Kevin DeYoung expound and proclaim the gospel over and over as part of the Durban leg of the Rezolution 2013 conference. However the final session was preached by Kevin DeYoung and using Hebrews 12:14 he preached on holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. He painted a convicting picture of just how exactly holiness is an essential aspect of being a Christian. You cannot be a Christian and not grow in holiness. Then he gave a personal illustration of how, at the moment of temptation, to remain holy and pure, and its been buzzing around my head ever since.


This is the principle: When faced with temptation, quote to yourself Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Now lest you think that this is simply a mantra which cures everything, let me explain whats behind this. As a Christian, I want to see God. He is my Lord, my saviour, the one who removed my sins and my adoptive Father. I suspect that upon entering heaven and seeing Him, I will fall on my face and it will take quite a few years before I get up from that. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

KevinDeYoungDeYoung explained that there are two aspects of holiness. Firstly the holiness which come from Christ, purchased by Him on the cross of Calvary. But secondly, there is holiness which we develop as God sanctifies us. This holiness is not saving, we can’t in any way use it as part of a ticket to heaven, but it is the natural fruit of an increasingly sanctified life. This is the holiness primarily referred to in Hebrews 12:14, the holiness without which nobody will see the Lord.

Now let me emphasis something. No amount of personal holiness, either worked for knowingly or not, can ever add even the smallest part to your salvation, that was solely and completely earned by the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. However, every single Christian, without exception, will always, always, over time, become progressively more holy and righteous. The improvements may be small enough that you don’t notice them in the short term, but over the medium term, your friends and family will notice them. A Christian dies, more holy than when they were saved. This process is called sanctification. To put it another way, this is what James is referring to in James 2, where he describes faith without works as being dead. Again, not that works saves the person, but it ALWAYS accompanies salvation.

So what of saying Matthew 5:8 to yourself. Let me explain it using DeYoung’s analogy. Sin offers pleasure. Hebrews 11:24-25 describe how Moses chose rather to suffer as a Hebrew rather than “enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Sin is pleasurable, for a short time; This is why people look at pornography. This is why a person will commit adultery or commit an act of violence. Often it is the reason why people steal. Very often, people addicted to alcohol or drugs, is because the substance somehow dulls the pain, makes them feel better or gives them a high of some kind. People lie because, at the time, it is more comfortable to tell a falsehood than the uncomfortable truth. The problem is, sin requires wages, and those wages are always death. Romans 6:23

But because sin is pleasurable, we are tempted to do it. We have to replace that desire for a fleeting pleasure, with a greater one. I want to see God. That is a great desire. So when tempted, I remind myself of a particular beatitude, which says. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. I remind myself with these words that what I want is to see God rather than this temporary, death bringing sin.

Punching-Out-SinJust one other thing, and that just to say, this in not a quid pro quo system, its not a mantra that just makes you holy if you say it enough times. The moment it becomes some kind of mantra, it looses its gospel potency. But its is a most excellent bullet to put in the gun used for fighting sin in the moment. It doesn’t remove the temptation, but it does serve as an effective tool for keeping clear of it, especially those sins of a visual nature. Its a way of renewing your mind day by day.

Till He returns

The Joburg version of the Rezolution comference is happening this week, if you are in the area it is well worth going to listen to Kevin DeYound, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan & CJ Mahaney preach at this conference. More information here