Devotion 71

Denying Sin’s Power

If we claim not to have sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.  If we claim we have not been sinning, we are making him out to be a liar, and his Word is not in us.

(1 John 1:8-10)

How is it possible to give power to sin? Power does not exist in and of itself; power is an attribute of the human spirit, given to us by Yahweh, the Living God, which may be, in turn, given freely, such as by fans to their ‘idols’, or may be taken from us through coercion, such as governments coercing power from their citizens, through legislation of fiat.

In very much the same way, we give power to sin when we deny sin exists or when we deny we have sinned. How does this give sin power? Very simply, sin, which is rebellion against Yahweh, exists in the darkness. Like anaerobic bacteria, which thrives in the dark and without oxygen, sin thrives in the darkest corners of our subconscious minds. Here, sin will grow – feeding on our desires, our prejudices, our angers – until it bursts forth, first as a thought, then as a deed. Once in the light, sin is either caught, held captive by our Beloved Adonai Yeshua, or it grows even more, realizing its existence is denied. Let’s focus on the all-too-frequent sin of adultery.

Adultery often begins with a thought, a lustful thought. Take, for example, the implications of Proverbs 6:23-25 – For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah is light,
and reproofs that discipline are the way to life. They keep you from an evil woman, from a loose woman’s seductive tongue. Don’t let your heart lust after her beauty or allow her glance to captivate you
. The key phrase here is “Don’t let your heart lust after her beauty or allow her glance to captivate you.” Once the lustful thought takes hold, adultery has already occurred. Listen to Adonai Yeshua’s teaching, found in Matthew 5:28 – But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. In God’s plan, a lustful thought is an act of adultery and is a sin. If we, men or women of God, deny the sin of a lustful thought, we are giving power to sin; we are diminishing our righteousness.

Then there is the sin of arrogance, or haughty pride. Believers are not immune to this very subtle sin and many use their beliefs as sledgehammers against brothers and sisters who follow different doctrines and dogma. Haughty pride, truly a sin itself, often leads to another – self-righteousness – which is the sin of creating false gods or idols of oneself. As I have observed, when a believer is confronted with the sins of haughty pride (arrogance) and self-righteousness (idolatry), the denials are quite strong, until also confronted with the behavioural evidence.

How do we avoid giving our spiritual power, the power granted to us by the Almighty Himself, through the Blessed Holy Spirit? This is where self-examination and calling upon the same Holy Spirit for support are crucial. The prayer of examen, given by the Holy Spirit to Inigo López de Loyola, also known as Ignatius of Loyola, a Jesuit priest, has been adapted for all of us, regardless of denomination.  Here are five suggested steps in the prayer of examen:

Seeking God’s Presence.  God is with us constantly; our role is to be aware of His presence. We begin our soul-searching process by asking Him to help us be aware.

Reviewing our day with gratitude.  Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, taught us to give thanks for everything which occurs in our day. Here, at the end of the day, we review what has transpired and express gratitude.

Paying attention to how we feel. Even psychologists (well, some anyway) acknowledge our emotions are windows to our souls. As you review your day, pay attention to how you are feeling about each event, each interaction.

Pray through one daily element. As you ponder the events of your day, the Holy Spirit will bring one event to your mind. Focus on that one event/interaction and speak to God about it, being open to the Holy Spirit.

Focus on the Here and Now. As you work through your conversation with Yahweh, you will have thoughts spring into your mind about the event/interaction you are examining. Focus on these, especially if they help you understand how you might do things differently, when a similar event occurs.  Then, when your prayer is complete, thank Adonai Elohim and have a good night’s sleep.

CONSIDER: Have you asked the Holy Spirit of our Living God to guide you through an examination of your day? Done daily, this practice can help us all navigate through sin’s subtle seductive minefields.

ACT: The longest road begins with the first step. Take the first step in examining your encounters with sin and learn how the Holy Spirit is guided you.

PRAY: Abba, Father, I come to you this day/night, seeking your guidance and leadership. I know You care deeply for me, as Your child, and I hold that truth close to my heart. Guide and lead me, by Your Blessed Holy Spirit, in the examination of my day. In Your Beloved Name I pray.

May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.