The openness of kids is rarely found in adults. We learn to mask our thoughts and hide our struggles as we grow up. Unsurprisingly, teens fall somewhere in between adults and kids. They are more open than adults, far more willing to discuss where they are struggling, but less open than kids. Working with teens, I get to see the struggles that they deal with because they are still willing to share their burdens.
One of the things clear in scripture is that sin is a heavy burden. The pressure of sin never lets up, it quickly feels like we are “in too deep.” Sin can be removed, but it never just goes away. Whether it is lying, pornography/lust, gossip, pride, gluttony (self-indulgence), sloth (laziness), or anger, sin continues to pile up and weigh us down. One lie will always lead to two, one look will always lead to a second, one moment of pride always leads to another, one piece of cake leads to another, one hour on the couch doing nothing leads to a second, one outburst of anger leads to another… sin never gives up.
I really like the image that I developed for this post, even more than most of the graphics that I’ve used. It ties in near perfectly with what I want to talk about today. Sin will drown you if you give it the chance. It will sink you so deep that you will feel like there is no way to get to the surface. The overwhelming nature of sin, makes you just want to give in and go with it. I want to look at John 8:30-38:
30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 8:30–38.
Notice, “many people believed in him.” He is addressing the “many people” here. They believe in him, but many of them are still not free, because they do not ABIDE in his word. Many people today claim to believe in Jesus. They might even attend church from time to time. When there is time in the schedule, they make sure their kids go to church. And yet, many of these very people are drowning in addiction, lies, frustration, debt, loss, or some other sin or hardship. They are not FREE!
Why? One of the biggest promises Jesus gives the church is freedom, so why do so few Christians seem to experience freedom? I think this passage answers that question. They do not ABIDE in His word. To truly be one of Jesus’ disciples, you have to abide in his word. Abide in his word requires more than showing up to church from time to time.
I shared what I believe/hope was a made up story that I heard on a TV show with some of the students yesterday in Bible study:
A cop is on duty one night and he comes up behind a car that is driving very slow, like the driver isn’t even on the gas pedal but just letting the car role with his foot off the brake. Additionally, the car is swerving all over the road even driving so slowly. So he throws on his lights. The car swerves into the curb and comes to a stop.
When the cop gets up to the car he sees three young men riding and one older man driving. The old man rolls down the window and the cop is astonished to find that he is talking to a blind man. Apparently, these three young men had realized that they were too drunk to drive, so they convinced a blind man to drive them back to campus by paying him a nice little stack of cash. They were directing him from the passenger seats as he drove.
As I said, I hope this story is made up. But it illustrates my point. Too often, Christians go through life like the blind guy. God promises that he will get us out of our sin. God promises to give us direction, but these promises require that we are engaged with God’s word. For too many Christians, this means a sermon on Sunday morning and maybe a Bible study. This is like driving blindfolded letting someone else give you directions. You need to take the blindfold off and look at the map that God gave us.
You need to stop hoping your sin will go away on its own and ABIDE in God’s word. You are not “in too deep” to get out of your sin or to get back on the path that God has for you. But you are going to have to lean on him. You are going to have to abide in his word to receive the freedom he promises.