Why do we not flee the foul? Surely because we are senseless and because we are not clean? Thus the unclean seeks uncleanness, the infamous infamy, the dishonourable dishonour; and because we are blind and dishonourable, therefore we avoid naught that is immodest.
- Columbanus, Sermon VII, Irish, 7th century
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
- Romans 7.24, 25
We are bent to sin, and that bent continues even after we have come to faith in Christ. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1.8). If we acknowledge that we are sinners, and bent to sin, we will be more likely to be aware of that tendency, whenever it manifests, and to check it through prayer and good works (Phil. 4.6, 7; Rom. 12.21).
Columbanus was bearing witness to the law of sin that operates even in the souls of the redeemed. Though we are forgiven and saved, yet this sore of wickedness oozes its poison into our souls, and will until the day we die.
Thus we should be neither surprised nor dismayed to find ourselves, from time to time, prone to wickedness in thought, feeling, word, or deed. The struggle to become sanctified continues day by day, and it is a mighty struggle indeed. We have to work out our salvation; it doesn’t just happen (Phil. 2.12).
But thanks be to God, for Jesus has secured us to Himself, so that He will ultimately overcome every last trace of evil in us and make us pure and holy, as He is pure and holy. The Balm of Gilead, dwelling in our hearts by faith, can heal the wounds of lingering sin.
Moreover, His power at work within us fights against the remnants of sin to bring more of God’s grace and truth to bear on the reformation of our souls and the transformation of our lives.
Jesus is our Champion in the struggle against sin. In Him we are clean. In Him we are honorable. In Him we see the beauty of goodness and truth, so that we may reach for it with all our strength. In Him we find the power to resist our sinful tendencies and grow in grace and truth.
We are wretched folk, all; nevertheless, we are Jesus’ wretched folk, and He is transforming us daily, from glory to glory, into His own image.
Let us resolve not to feed the foul or clamor for the unclean. The true believer hates sin (Ps. 97.10) and knows where all its traps have been laid (Prov. 1.17). We need not give in to temptation, so that we end up like a turtle on its back, struggling to right ourselves in the way of righteousness. By turning to the Lord when the law of sin threatens to unhorse us, waiting on Him in prayer, contemplating His beauty, and clinging to His Word, we can overcome our sinful tendencies in good works of loving service to God and our neighbors (Rom. 12.21).
But we’ll need to work at it, and work at it every day.
We don’t have to give in to our base instincts and sinful bent. Look to Jesus. Call upon and cherish our Champion, as He carries us above the muck and slime into the heights of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. Every temptation presents a choice: Either fall through temptation into sin and bitterness of soul, or grow through temptation into greater heights of sanctification and joy in the Lord.
Make up your mind which choice you will make. Flee the foul; cling to the Champion, and run your race to increasing heights of glory and joy in the Lord.
1. How can you prepare each day so that you will be ready to deal with temptation when it arises?
2. How can Christians help and encourage each other to resist our sinful bent?
Psalm 40.11-13, 16, 17 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Keep Your mercy not from me; let Your love and truth prevail.
Evil and iniquity make my trembling heart to fail.
Lord, be pleased to rescue me! Let my shelter with You be.
Let them shout for joy and sing who in saving grace delight!
Let them praise to Jesus bring, though affliction be their plight.
Christ, our help, our Savior He! Of us ever mindful be!
Lift me, Lord Jesus, above all that is wicked and disgusting, both within me and without, and help me today to…
The snares of temptation and victories of faith lie in the same part of our daily path – all the small stuff that fills our day. Are we making the most of these daily opportunities to glorify God in what seem like the most insiginicant of ways? Our book Small Stuff can help you learn to resist temptation and give every moment of your life to the Lord. Order you copy by clicking here.
A call to prayer for September
We are asking all of you in The Ailbe Community – all who read or use any of our resources – to make a special, daily focus in prayer, that God would move the hearts of many to share in the financial needs of this ministry. The Lord supports our work through the prayerful and generous gifts of those who share our vision and are served by our ministry. Please join us throughout the month of September, as we ask the Lord to move and enable more of those who benefit from this ministry to share in our financial needs. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 91.