Have you ever been around someone who prides themselves on what they don’t do?
Their entire persona is built around behaviors that they refrain from. They love to brag how they never failed a class, never got drunk, never did this, never did that. My question is often, “Well what have you done?”
It is not that there aren’t certain actions we should avoid – there most assuredly are. However, avoidance is, at best, half of the story for the Christian.
It is not enough just to avoid sin. That should be part of my life, but my life should be so much more than that.
What if I felt that my entire job as a husband is to avoid being romantically involved with a woman other than my wife? Should my wife feel loved and special because I’m not cheating on her? Is that not the bare minimum?
Should I not be passionately seeking to honor her, please her, love her? Should I not be simply seeking her – to know her more because I care about her.
If I’m doing that then obviously I won’t be involved with anyone else. That part will take care of itself.
Why do we get this so wrong with God?
Instead of recognizing our purpose is to seek after Him, we see the Christian life as being all about avoiding sin. If I can just get out of this sin or if I can stay away from that sin everything will be great.
We get part of James 4 right. We “resist the Devil,” but we leave out the “draw near to God” part. It’s not enough just to resist sin. Besides, if we leave out the seeking after God part, we won’t be avoiding sin for long.
So many times in my life when I’ve been dealing with sin, I would work really hard to get rid of it. I would do everything in my power to avoid falling back into that temptation.
But almost every time I would fail. Why? Because I was doing things in my own strength and not seeking a substitute (the Substitute) for the affection I was displaying toward my sin.
If I don’t begin to seek God, eventually I will fall back into the same sin or even a different one. I can’t just avoid. I also have to seek.
This is why legalism is not the solution for sin. I was in sin because my affections were directed toward that sin. The way to truly overcome sin is to love God more than that sin, more than yourself and whatever pleasure you derive from that sin.
Avoid sin is good, but it’s not complete. I could not call myself a good husband if all I did was not cheat on my wife.
In the same way, I cannot call myself a faithful follower of Christ if all I’m trying to do is avoid sin. That’s the first step, but it is not the only step of the journey.