The Bible calls on God’s faithful to abstain from sin and remove sin from their lives. Doing so is not so easy. The temptations and trappings of sin surround us in life. But Jesus offered a simple step for eliminating sin.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
In the above verse, Jesus warned the disciples to stay watchful against the coming temptation and pray for the strength to withstand it. Their trial as his followers was at hand. But it’s a lesson for all of us today that we all need to still be on guard against temptations.
While there has always been temptation of sin in the world, its ability to infiltrate your life is on a scale that has never existed in the history of the world. Electronic, wireless communications and a mobile device on your person are something humanity has only possessed in the last few decades.
In a real sense, you face a greater temptation to sin than all the human beings who existed before you. We may be tempted in different ways, but human flesh remains weak and one of the primary ways sin tries to lead humanity astray.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
–1 Corinthians 10:13
As the apostle Paul wrote in the above verse, we can note that human nature hasn’t changed – neither has sin nor the things humans can be tempted by. The only difference now is the ingenuity and frequency at which we are tempted.
Prayer for strength to resist temptation remains your weapon. In addition, there is one thing Jesus says if you do, it will be challenging for sin to take a foothold in your life.
“And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”
– Luke 9:23
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
– Mark 8: 34
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'”
– Matthew 16:24
The key command we must extract from these three parallel verses is the phrase “deny himself.”
Sin is often a factor of self-focus, which means fulfilling one’s desires. It’s self-centeredness and selfishness.
Sinful things are often those that offer pleasure, so denying yourself these things – as a result – eliminates sin.
Denying yourself actions and thoughts aimed at pleasing and satisfying yourself prevents sin.
Putting others first and denying your wants or needs for a time or altogether eliminates sin.
When Jesus said, “take up his cross,” he is speaking about sacrificing oneself, figuratively, for the good of others, as he did on the cross.
“Follow me” refers to following Jesus’ teachings and imitating his actions.
Pray for the strength and courage to deny yourself.