When I was in high school, I owned a sweet red and blue dirt bike for about two weeks.
It was fast and loud, and I cherished every moment I got to ride it. For the two weeks that I owned it, I rode it to school every day. On the weekends, I rode it to the hoop court, movies, and perhaps a party or two.
Fortunately, my mother, being the great mom that she was, spotted me flying by the gas station one time and made me return the motorcycle.
As I look back at that moment, there is a truth that I was unwilling to accept. What I cherished more than the dirt bike was the attention I got from it.
Every morning, I would speed by a couple of the influential high schools on the way to my high school just to get my fill of attention for the day.
Looking back, I realize that I cherished the sin of idolatry; it’s clear to me because of the degree to which I loved the praise and attention of people. Even after I became a Christian, things looked different, but the temptation to succumb to that same idolatry was always there with me.
When we cherish a memory, food, a person, a place, or a thing, we feel motivated, compelled, or emotionally stirred whenever the subject is brought to our attention. Similarly, when we aren’t resisting the forces of darkness, we can develop the same kind of feelings about sin.
In this devotional, we will attempt to answer three questions that will help us understand how sin is affecting us, and what we can do about it.
How do you know you have cherished sin?
Now, a man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, likewise sold their farm. 2 They conspired to secretly keep back for themselves a portion of the proceeds. So when Ananias brought the money to the apostles, it was only a portion of the entire sale.
3 God revealed their secret to Peter, so he said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan fill your heart and make you think you could lie to the Holy Spirit? You only pretended to give it all, yet you hid back part of the proceeds from the sale of your property to keep for yourselves.
4 Before you sold it, wasn’t it yours to sell or to keep? And after you sold it, wasn’t the money entirely at your disposal? How could you plot such a thing in your heart? You haven’t lied to people; you’ve lied to God!”Acts 5:1-4 (TPT)
There are a couple of things we can learn from this story. When we cherish sin, we often keep it a secret, not because we are ashamed or embarrassed, but because we have no intention of changing the sin.
Also, when we cherish sin, we plot and scheme. In some cases, we even have relationships that help us accomplish the goal of our sin. In this case, a husband and wife worked together to carry out their sinful plan. They wanted to cherish their sin and God at the same time.
- Do you have secret sins in your life?
- How do you secretly plot in your heart and life to commit these sins?
If you answered yes to the above questions, it is safe to say that you are cherishing sin in your life. But why is this dangerous?
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;  but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.Psalm 66:16-20 NIV
Cherishing sin in our hearts creates distance between God and us. And that same distance is also produced in our human relationships.
Why do we cherish sin?
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.Hebrews 3:12-13 (NLT)
We believe whatever our sin of choice is will fulfill a need in our life. For example, when I am stressed out, I suddenly crave chocolate – Twix, to be exact. Although it makes me feel better for the moment, it doesn’t take away my stress & doesn’t make my life any better.
According to this passage, we aren’t meant to fight our battles against sin by ourselves. We need each other’s help! By ourselves, we end up deceived by sin.
Once we’ve been deceived by our sin, we cherish it, and it blinds us from seeing the truth about the true impact on our lives and in relationship with God.
- How has sin deceived you & hardened you against God?
- What will happen if you face the real impact of your cherished sin?
- How has your decision to cherish sin affected the people around you and your capacity for spirituality?
What is “the way out”?
Here are three truths we must all admit to succeed over the allure of sin:
- Acknowledge the struggle
- Admit you need help
- Accept God’s way out
These simple steps are all that’s needed to remove cherished sin from our lives.
Acknowledge the struggle
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)
The Scriptures compare this struggle to war against your soul. I remember as a kid waking up to the start of a civil war breaking out in my home country. It was scary and terrifying to hear the gunshots, and fortunately, my family and I were able to leave the country for our safety.
The war changed the lives of many, including our lives because we moved to a different country and never moved back. We had to change schools, move to a new house, and much more.
We don’t have to personally live through a war to understand the seriousness of it. In the same way, the war sin wages against our souls changes us and changes our relationships. This is why we must acknowledge this struggle.
Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself:
- What are the sinful desires with which you are struggling?
- How are they waging war against your soul?
We all must acknowledge the struggle, so we can begin the fight to loosen sin’s grip on us.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.James 1:13-15 (NIV)
I have learned over the years and continue to learn that I must tackle my sins from the root. As James 1 reminds us, our struggle against sin begins with our temptations.
But when we ignore our temptations, we get enticed by our evil desires. And evil desires become sin.
- What are the temptations in your life?
- Are you ignoring your desires and what’s happening as a result?
- How is this impacting your life & relationships?
Admit you need help
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.James 1:21 (NLT)
It’s safe to say that we will have zero victories over sin without humility. On our own, we will never win the battle over our cherished sin.
We absolutely need God’s help. We must humbly accept God’s Word and the power it has to save our souls. This humility towards God’s Word also helps us to be humble with our friends.
- What do you need to be humble about?
- How can you be humble today?
Accept God’s way out
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
We can lean on the encouraging truth that God is faithful and always provides a way out. We just need to accept it, regardless of how hard it may feel to do so (God, after all, is not a genie who magically solves all our problems).
He provides a way out so we can endure the fight against sin by growing stronger than our evil desires and temptations. It brings success, but only to those willing to endure.
- How does God give us a way out to overcome sin?
- How can you start believing and leaning on God’s faithfulness?
- How can God use your decision to stop cherishing sin to help other people?