Finish Strong: Week 2 – Overcoming Sin

Yesterday we completed week 2 of our study of James by reading and discussing James 1:13-18. Remember, if you would like to follow along with the video series, please contact Pastor Juan with the Venue, to get connected with RightNow Media.

Previous weeks:
James 1:1-12


James 1:13-18 “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. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

This week’s verses are addressing our sinful desires. If you somehow believe that you’re not a sinner because you’re a Christian, you’re lying (which means you’re sinning). And do you remember who Paul is writing to? The church. The church is made up of a bunch of sinners, just like you and me.

It’s so easy to pass the blame of our sin. We’ve been doing it since Adam and Eve. Looking at someone other than our spouse lustfully? NO NOT US! Stealing a few dollars here and there from the work cash register? THAT MUST HAVE HAPPENED ON SOMEONE ELSE’S SHIFT! Gossiping about our coworker/church member/friend/family? I’M NOT GOSSIPING, I’M JUST KEEPING SO-AND-SO IN THE LOOP. We are so full of excuses!

If they wouldn’t have dressed provocatively, I wouldn’t have looked.
If God didn’t want me gossiping, then He wouldn’t have surrounded me with people who always gossip.
If my boss didn’t have such a short temper, I wouldn’t have lied about what happened.
If my spouse was better with money, then we wouldn’t be in such a large amount of debt.

Excuses.
Excuses.
Excuses.

Why do we do this? I believe we do it because we don’t want it on our conscience. We want to look the best. Even if we acknowledge some of our sin, we still claim to be better or “not as bad” as someone else. Often times, we get stuck in an endless cycle of blame. Instead of our problems getting better, they seem to get worse. You can’t blame anyone but yourself for your sin. God can’t be associated with sin, so it doesn’t come from him. Sin is a choice you make, whether you want to believe it or not. You need to own it!

In some ways, temptation is good. Pastor Juan compared temptation to a guardrail. Temptation is not a sin, even Jesus was tempted.  It’s a reminder of our humanity and the fact that we need a perfect God to help us overcome. Kati reminded us that our temptations are not the symptom of a physical problem, but a spiritual one. A problem that can only be tackled by an all mighty spiritual God. In short, there is hope for us. But our hope is not us.

But how do we break the cycle? Especially if our sin is now a habit, or if things in our life are now dead because of the sin. In order to overcome, we have to first, gain our bearings. James lays out the path clearly. Desire leads to temptation, which leads to sin, which leads to death. Pastor Juan suggesting taking it one step further. What comes before desire? What incubates an ungodly desire?

Just like a seed, sin needs a good environment to grow. Do the movies you watch that have bits of nudity, violence, and inappropriate language just goes right over your head? No. Do you think music that screams anger, hatred, and depression goes through one ear and out the other? No. Do you think you can just scroll past the negativity and gossip on your social media feed and nothing come of it? No.

Daniel reminded us that many Venues ago we discussed that confession is acknowledgement of sin, the first step in overcoming it. Then repentance is commitment to change our sinful ways. And as Kacie said, “it’s not just saying you’re sorry. It’s actually changing.” Once we confess and repent, with God’s help, we can overcome sin for good.

Don’t watch those vulgar movies. Unfollow those negative or gossiping friends. Stop drowning yourself in music that is not edifying. Pastor Juan put it perfectly, “if environment is where it starts, then most likely, environment is going to be where it ends.” Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you start your day with distractions, you’ll end your day in distractions. It’s a snowball effect.

Once we’re on the road of repentance, we can fully embrace God’s gifts to us. Sin makes big promises, but under delivers. It will always keep us hungry. We will never feel satisfied or complete, if we try to be complete with sin. God makes us promises and gives us tenfold. His gifts are too many to name! He gives us peace, patience, hope, and a sense of purpose. The gifts that God gives are beyond what we can touch and feel. They are spiritual and eternal. As you grow in your walk with Christ, you will learn the value of God’s gifts. You will learn that in order to say yes to eternal things, you will need to say no to temporary things.

If you are struggling with sin, talk to God about it. He already knows what areas we fall short in. Just give it to him. Matthew 11:29,30 says “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Once you fully surrender, you can achieve peace and He will help you takes steps to overcome.