Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

I've developed a distaste for unsavory things in my past. I indulged in drugs, alcohol, and self-pity. But, I eventually tired of those things. Other temptations remain relevant in my life, but I am only occasionally even tempted by mind-altering chemicals and self-pity. I think this is because I now actually see them as unsavory. This is a blessing from God, for which I am truly grateful.

I suddenly realize that, at such times of temptation, I could still give myself permission for those poisonous behaviors. Perhaps, I could find some pleasure or relief in them. But these are weak temptations at best. They seem so far behind me and so unfulfilling. Yet, for other temptations like lust, anger, or pride I do give myself permission. I had not thought about it quite this way before. But, surely, that is precisely what I do.

"She has on a bikini; she's not nude!"
"At the moment, I have no alternative! What else can I do?"
"He has no right to treat me that way! My response was just!"
"I don't usually do this."

You see, I make exceptions. I have excuses or I accept the ones Satan offers. It's all right because of my unique circumstances. I deserve special consideration. Oh Lord how dangerous this is! Where is the limit to my self-indulgence? It is only where I decide to put it! That is in no way reliable or trust-worthy! My gauge is internal and, therefore, subject to the influence of my sinful nature with which I remain afflicted throughout this life. Worse still, I sometimes don't give myself time to consider, but rush headlong, knowing that I might resist a temptation well considered. Obviously, this must not be allowed to continue.

I see a distinction between my perception of sins I permit and others I no longer permit. I have been successfully resisting temptations to sins that I perceive as destructive while struggling to resist others that I perceive as merely prohibited. In truth, they are all destructive. This is knowledge I already have, but I must focus on and remember the destructive power of sins I too often permit, in order that I may have understanding that is greater than mere knowledge.

I must remember also that acts of sin are not merely "slips" or "momentary lapses", but nothing less than giving myself permission to sin. It seems like such a silly thing to think I have given myself permission to disobey God Almighty. Yet, there I am.

But, I am not required to give such permission. Though alertness must be important, I am now, by the power and grace of God through Jesus Christ, free to withhold that permission, free to reject the demands of my sinful nature, free to reject excuses, and free "to stand [my] ground, and after [I] have done everything, to stand."