It's been a long time since I have written a blog post, but when I came to my sermon topic for this week, I realized there was simply too much for one sermon. I did not want to continue with a second sermon on the same topic so I decided a blog post is in order. For the past few weeks we have been in the middle of a sermon series entitled Monsters in Church: Dysfunctional Disciples of Jesus. In this series we have used historic movie and literature monsters as an analogy and backdrop to describe the most common dysfunctions within the church today. This week we examined the classic character of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Paul describes the classic Jekyll and Hyde dilemma we all deal with in Romans 7 where he speaks about the internal struggle he has between doing that which he wants to do and that which he feels compelled to do. In this morning's sermon, we looked at that struggle that occurs within each believer. We ended by exploring the knowledge that we only overcome and win over our sin nature by the grace of Jesus. While that truth is powerful, I also want to speak about a few practical steps we can take to defeat the Mr. Hyde within us. A couple of these steps will sound familiar if you have listened to the sermon, but they are so true they deserve a second mention.
1) Recognize the danger that lurks within you - In Genesis 4:7, Cain is mad at his brother Abel, because Abel's offering was acceptable to God, but his own was not. God warns Cain by saying, "If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." We can never defeat the Mr. Hyde within if we do not recognize the sin we take part in. Christians are the worst about seeing the sins of others while refusing to see their own sin. To defeat Mr. Hyde, we must recognize our natural inclination toward sin.
2) Recognize the enemy who works from the outside - In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter warns his readers to, "Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour." We have a sin nature and we cannot blame our failure on anyone else, but we have an enemy who wants nothing more than to see us fail! The Devil is real. He is alive, and he is working against you. We must recognize this truth is we want to win when he fights against us.
3) Recognize the trigger points of our turn - In Jekyll and Hyde, the monster had triggers that would bring him out. The Mr. Hyde within us is the same. We have to know what temptations are our greatest threat. James 1:19 reminds us, "My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness." If we do not find control over our triggers, we cannot get ahead of the "monster" within!
4) Cry out to God in our failure - God doesn't expect us to be flawless; He expects us to be faithful. When we fail, when we fall, we must cry out to God and thank Him for His grace and His patience in the midst of failure.
5) Remind ourselves of the extent of His forgiveness - In Romans 8:1, just after speaking of His failure to be sinless, Paul says, "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus." God doesn't just forgive you a little bit. God obliterates your sinfulness and places you on solid ground as a new creation. God does not condemn us so we should not condemn ourselves.
6) Remember our calling - 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, "But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy." That's a tall order, but it is what we are to strive for. The only way we are ever holy is the grace and mercy of Jesus and the gift of His sacrifice on the cross.
7) Learn to forgive ourselves - We are our greatest enemy! Here is a truth we need to learn and understand. If we continue to punish ourselves for our sin, we allow the Mr. Hyde within us ammunition to bring us down. If God can forgive me, I must learn to forgive myself.
8) Learn to get back up again - You are going to fall. Get back up. Start over. Don't think because you have failed once you cannot ever attain the prize. Through Jesus we can beat the Mr. Hyde within, but we have to get back up when we fail!
Be blessed today!