There’s an old Bob Newhart video clip where he plays a psychiatrist. A woman walks in, takes a seat and begins to tell him about her phobia: being buried alive in a box. They soon decide she’s claustrophobic. The psychiatrist’s advice is two words, “Stop it.” Later, she names other problems. She’s bulimic, has self-destructive relationships with men, and is afraid to drive. The psychiatrist’s advice? “Stop it.” (He said it was okay she washed her hands a lot.) The sketch is funny and not meant to be taken seriously.
It got me thinking about real problems. Of course, this woman’s claustrophobia, bulimia, self-destructive relationships, and fear of driving would take time and therapy for her to work through them. People need help with these things.
But, I started thinking about sins—wrong habits.
What do we do when we’re confronted with our own sin habits?
Let’s take one example. You are reading your Bible: Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:42-44). The Holy Spirit reminds you that you lie a lot. You twist truth at work. You misrepresent your company’s product. You have no problem telling untruths in order to get people to buy. Now, you realize you’ve been dishonest and that God clearly says lying comes from the devil.
The first step of taking care of your sin is to acknowledge it to yourself and to God. Call it what it is; lying is sin. Then you confess it to God in prayer, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Jesus wants us to confess our sins and get clean. This passage was written to Christians and speaks of cleansing after salvation. In order to live forgiven and with a clean conscience, we need to go to the Lord when we sin.
There’s another aspect of repentance and cleansing. It’s the Christian’s determination to “stop it,” not to sin any more. It is what God wants. He wants Christians to act like redeemed people, to serve Him and be a good testimony. Let’s look at some of these “stop it” passages:
- Afterward Jesus findeth him (the very ill man at the Pool of Bethesda, that Jesus healed) in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more (John 5:14a).
- She (the woman caught in adultery) said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (John 8:11).
- Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof (Romans 6:12).
- And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24).
- Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
- Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:12).
Back to the point of our illustration: Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25). Just stop the lying!
How can this be practical? The next time you’re with a client, and you feel compelled to lie, stop yourself and speak truth instead. You can pray a short prayer, “Help me, Lord, to speak truth and not lies.” Then, do right. The next time a lie comes to mind, stop it, and replace it with truth.
A long time ago, a friend shared with me that in her home country, it’s considered bright to lie and dumb not to. It’s like it’s only the ingenuous person who doesn’t lie. So, she grew up making up stories. She had to remember them and add to them. As a result, when she was born again, she had a fight on her hands. Every time she began to say something, she was tempted to lie. She had to learn to cut out the stories and tell the truth.
It’s a process, but it needs to be a determined process. Tempted to sin? Yes. Then, stop it! Just stop sinning. Ask God to help you catch temptations and substitute good works for bad. Ask the Lord to make you aware and watchful. If you slip, call sin what it is and go to the Lord for cleansing.
If you have an addiction problem and need counseling, please get help. Get an accountability partner. Get the help you need.
Cut sin out of your life.
Whosoever is born of God doth not (habitually) commit sin;
for his seed remaineth in him:
and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
(1 John 3:9)