While shopping with my wife recently, I noticed the wide array of products designed to freshen the air and remove bad odors from the home.
According to advertisements I have seen, if you prepare a fish dinner, and you want to get rid of the fishy smell, you just spray a particular product, and it completely eliminates the odor. But what happens if you dumped the remains of the fish in your trash, and it is still sitting in your kitchen, along with the unwashed utensils and the pans you cooked the fish in? I suppose you could continue to spray the product in a perpetual effort to freshen the air. But wouldn't it be easier to just eliminate the cause by taking out the trash and thoroughly washing the dishes? Then you could spray once to get rid of any traces of offensive odor that remained.
The above scenario reminded me of what people often do when sin has gained a foothold in their life. Instead of dealing with it, they try to cover up the signs of it. For example, a smoker may use breath mints after smoking a cigarette; however, the smell still remains in his or her clothing and hair, and the damage to the lungs does not disappear. Someone who drinks before going to work may freshen his or her breath, but the effects of the alcohol linger. Someone else may be secretly addicted to pornography. Although he may hide it and cover his tracks, the addiction still remains and increases in intensity, tightening its stranglehold on the person.
In His loving mercy, God offers us the real and lasting solution to the sin problem we all face.
First, we must agree with Him that we have sinned.
If we refuse to acknowledge our sin, then we are, in essence, telling God, "No, I don't want Your help."
Second, we must accept responsibility for our sin, instead of blaming someone else.
If we say, "I sinned, but it wasn't my fault because my brother encouraged me to do it," we are not acknowledging our responsibility. Each of us is accountable for his or her actions.
Third, we must desire to be free of our sin.
When we ask God to forgive our sin, and we accept Jesus as our Savior, we cannot at the same time be planning to return to our sin. Our salvation was purchased at the cost of Jesus' death on the cross. We make a mockery of His sacrifice if we continue to sin, thinking that we can keep coming back to receive forgiveness over and over again.
Fourth, we must ask Jesus to be Lord of our life.
In other words, we must let Him have the final say in everything we do. This, of course, requires humility and a sincere desire to please Him. It also necessitates reading His Word daily, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers.
Fifth, we must be patient and willing to persevere.
Although God forgives us immediately, lifelong habits may be hard to break. The Holy Spirit will give us the grace and strength we need to overcome if we keep asking God to help us, avoid temptation, and concentrate on growing closer to Him.
When we realize that we have sinned, rather than camouflaging it, let's take out the trash!
© by Howard W. Stevens