I used to think that as a believer, I needed to work hard to keep myself saved, pure and holy before God. That it was up to me to ensure that I didn’t fall into sin and temptation. To an extent, there are practical things that we can do to ‘shun the very appearance of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:22). I like that the verse after this one goes on to say, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). This scripture and others like it in the bible releases us from a works based approach to Christianity.
It is saying that it is God who sanctifies us and keeps us whole and blameless. Jude also said that God is able to keep us from stumbling so we don’t have to worry that we may slip. We submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit in us and then walk in the freedom where Christ has made us free so we won’t be entangled again in the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). What Paul was explaining to the church was that once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour, then we are no longer slaves to sin. We die to the deeds of the flesh when we are born again and live in the spirit so that we do not give in to sinful desires.
There are some besetting and habitual sins that require deliverance and healing. Unresolved hurt or abuse can leave open doors through which the enemy can enter to plague believers. Unforgiveness and bitterness can also leave open doors for besetting sins. There is healing in Christ Jesus when we surrender ourselves to him and allow the Holy Spirit to show us those areas where we need healing. We are not the keeper of ourselves and we are saved through grace so that we are free from legalism. There is freedom which comes in complete surrender to God to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.
Our main responsibility is to stay connected to the vine so that we can bear good fruit. We stay connected by praying to God daily. This is also not a works based action but one born out of relationship and a genuine desire to be close to God. Who doesn’t want to be close to an awesome, magnificent, powerful and great God? We study the word because it is God’s way of communicating his plans to us. We worship God because worship takes us into the presence of God and cultivates intimacy with God. Once we are truly connected to God, sin will no longer be our problem.
“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4).