By Irene C. Taylor
The battle with sin is a constant, continuing battle. It began with the entrance of sin in the Garden of Eden and will continue as long as time lasts. The Christian must be constantly alert to the enticements of the world. Satan is busy dressing sin in alluring garb to tempt mankind. What measures, then, can the Christian employ to stay out of the sinning business?
The opening verse of Psalm 1 vividly portrays the progressiveness of sin. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Note carefully how slyly sin gains control. Man first observes the enticements of sin. It looks exciting and fun. It seems harmless to just observe it. (How many parents and children justify "spectating" the school dance? After all, they are just "observing"- not participating!) He walks with them and listens to their urging to join in. By observing, one begins to associate with the attending crowd. Friendship with those present may even result. The child becomes more closely associated with them-he standeth with them; (becomes a regular member of that crowd). He/she sitteth with them-he/she is now perfectly at home with them, comfortable with their activities. What began as an innocent observation of that which is questionable, at best, has now gripped one and gained control. This is why naive parents are treading dangerous ground when they think observation will be the end of the matter. For many it opens the door to full participation.
A blessing is pronounced on the man "who walketh not" this progressive path to sin. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law cloth he meditate day and night" (Psa. 1:2). This man filled his life and his time with that which is worthwhile. He chose to fill his mind with the law of the Lord. He delighted in it. This is the greatest tool man can use to avoid engaging in sin.
In the account of the unclean spirit, we see the need to fill our minds and lives with wholesome, spiritual things. When our lives are left empty and void of good things we are, in essence, inviting the "unclean spirit" to return with company (Matt. 12:4345).
It is more than significant that our perfect example, Jesus the Christ, showed us the proper way to meet temptation and resist sin. He met the devil in the wilderness of temptation and he answered each inducement with "It is written" (Matt. 4:111). Our Lord met temptation, not as Deity, but as man. He used the same method of resistance which we have at our disposal-the Scriptures.
Christians must be careful not to place themselves in situations where they will be tempted to do wrong. We are commanded to "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). Wisdom dictates that we stay clear away from that which even appears evil! That would eliminate watching questionable activities. That would prohibit our getting as close to sin as possible without actual participation. Rather, we would flee from it. Running is not always cowardly; sometimes it is the course of wisdom. James 4:7 advises us to "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
We need to be aggressive in our battle with the devil-not passive. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul gives sage advice which we would do well to heed. Following admonitions to pursue godliness and a warning regarding the unhealthy love of money, we find instructions to flee certain things. "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1 Tim. 6:11). "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22).
Instead of Permitting-encouraging-our young people to participate in worldly pleasure to be popular, we need to be instilling in them the attitude of avoiding sin. We can best do this by living the example of a pure life before them.
Again, hear the wisdom of Paul to Timothy, "Keep thyself pure" (1 Tim. 5:22). "Unto the pure all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4:8).
Let each of us resolve to fill our minds with the things of God's Holy Word so that there will be no room for sin to fill our lives. Like the man of Psalms, let us delight in his law day and night. Only by knowing God's law can we equip ourselves to resist the temptation of sin!