Girlfriends in God - July 4, 2012

July 4, 2012
Making Right Choices
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths (Proverbs 4:27, NLT).

Friend to Friend
I have learned a lot from the people God has put in my life over the years, but some of my greatest teachers have been and are our children and grandchildren.

Our son-in-law was sharing a recent experience he had at dinner with our three-year-old grandson, Justus. Evidently, our daughter had asked Justus to do something during the day. Justus flashed his most charming smile and promptly did the opposite of what his mother asked him to do, proud of his toddler version of defiance. His mother was not as pleased. She corrected him and shared the experience with her husband.

That night, over dinner, Sam said, “Justus, did Momma ask you to do something today?” Justus immediately remembered the incident and lowered his head. “Yes, daddy, she did.” Sam gently continued, “Son, we have to do what Momma says, okay? We have to make good choices.” Justus thought for a moment. You could almost see the mental wheels turning as he contemplated the words of his dad. With a sigh and fierce conviction Justus responded, “But Daddy, I don’t wike making right choices!” And there you have it. The perfect description of the battle between our old nature and the new nature we receive when we surrender our lives to God. It is the beginning of an internal civil war between obedience and disobedience to God. And if you are like Justus … and his Mimi … there are times when you don’t like making the right choice either.

At the close of the sermon, a church member came forward to speak with the pastor. He was very upset because of the sin in his life and his blatant disobedience to God. With tears streaming down his face, the repentant man took the pastor’s hand to confess that his life was full of sin, but what came out was, “My sin is full of life.” I can relate.

I don’t know about you, but my sin is definitely “full of life.” I am always amused but also saddened by people who think that just because I am in full time ministry, I am holier than they are, better than they are or don’t have to battle sin like they do. Just ask my husband and children. They will blow that theory right out of the water. The fact is, as long as I live in this fallen world and sport this frail humanity, I will wrestle with sin and making right choices. 

However, I have refined several tactics for dealing with my sinful nature. Rationalization is one of my personal favorites. And there is always the handy comparison ploy – measuring my sin against the sin of another. At times, I subscribe to the popular “bury it and hope it will go away” tactic. The reality is that nothing satisfies the payment sin demands except the blood of Jesus Christ, and my response to His sacrifice in true, unadulterated repentance -- on my face before my Holy God. 

When we turn our lives over to God, He sets our feet on the right path. But to stay on that path requires a continual choice to run from sin. With our flawed choices, we take side trips, create detours and wind up on the wrong road headed in the wrong direction. Solomon warns us to stay away from evil paths. “Don't turn off the road of goodness; keep away from evil paths” (Proverbs 4:27, NLT). “Keep away” literally means “to turn aside or drag from.” In other words, when we see sin or even the opportunity to sin, we should turn around and run in the opposite direction. We should “drag ourselves” away from sin. What do we do instead? We flirt with sin. We want to be delivered from temptation but would really like to keep in touch. We pray for God to “lead us not into temptation” and then deliberately place ourselves in its path. In our arrogance, we think we can handle sin and the temptation to sin on our own. That very attitude is an open invitation for the enemy, daring him to take his best shot.  

My husband, Dan, was the pastor of Flamingo Road Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for many years. A man of great wisdom, Dan was adamant about the fact that neither he nor his staff should ever put themselves in a situation that flirted with sin or made it easier to sin. Solid wooden office doors were replaced with glass doors. No pastor was allowed to meet with a woman for any reason unless one of the other staff members was present. A staff counselor was hired to handle anyone needing more than one counseling session. The staff often went to lunch following their regular Tuesday morning staff meeting and even though the restaurant was literally across the street from the church, no man was allowed to ride alone with a woman. Sound ridiculous?  Seem absurd? Not at all! Dan simply refused to provide ammunition for the enemy. The bottom line is that it’s foolish and dangerous to flirt with sin.

There is no holding pattern for believers nor can we live in a neutral state. We are either going forward or backward. We are either being renewed or consumed. Girlfriend, do not relinquish any more life territory to the enemy. Run from sin … and commit to making right choices.

Let’s Pray
Father, forgive me for the sin in my life. Right now, I choose to turn away from that sin. I turn to You, Lord. I know that I am lost and totally helpless without You. Thank You for the unconditional love and unending forgiveness that I find in You. Give me the strength and wisdom to make right choices that please and honor You.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. “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” (NIV).

Consider the following promises found in 1 Corinthians 10:13. What do they mean to you and how do they apply to your life?

  • No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
  • God is faithful.
  • He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
  • He will provide a way out.

More from the Girlfriends
While it is true that we all face many temptations every single day, it is just as true that God will strengthen us to withstand each one. Need help? Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation, offers five steps you can take to help you resist temptation and live a life of victory.

If you need help learning how to understand and apply the truths of God, enroll in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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Originally published Wednesday, 04 July 2012.