We've been looking at JOY. We all want it, seek it, relentlessly pursue it actually.
And we learned that we have to be willing to accept personal responsibility for it. To participate in the process...commitment to JOY.
Then we learned that sin blocks JOY in our lives. That to have joy, we must stop sinning...consecration of self.
Today let's dig into that truth a little bit more. Let's examine why, if we are wired to want joy, if we desire it, why would we do the very thing that keeps us from it?
You might be tempted to say "I know sin blocks my joy but I can't help it!"
If you are not a follower of Christ, then that would be a true statement. Indeed, without the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, no one can sustain a life of righteousness, none can choose not to sin.
However, if, instead, you do have a relationship with Christ, then you have all the power you need to choose righteousness over sin. The same power that raised Christ from the dead now lives within us, equipping us to obey His Word instead of our own foolish flesh.
SO if we sin, it's because we choose to. And why would we choose to? Because we have deceived ourselves to believe that something other than God's Truth is what will make us happy.
ALL SIN begins with the believing of a lie. A lie that gets set forth, accepted, and acted upon. A lie about the goodness of God.
It was so in the Garden of Eden, when the Enemy suggested to Adam and Eve that God could not be trusted, that His goodness to them was in doubt. He twisted God's Word and said it was not true.
And he said to the woman,' Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?"' (Genesis 3:1)
That is not what God had said (see Genesis 2:16,17) but that lie planted doubt in Eve's mind. Instead of rejecting it outright and standing on exactly what God DID say, she opened herself up to the possibility that the Enemy was right...and then she twisted God's Word herself. She said "from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said "you shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die". (Genesis 3:3). Not what God had said.
So the lie was put forth, then it was accepted as truth, and then it was acted upon.
It's the same way with us.
We sin because we hear a lie that casts doubt on the goodness of God towards us, we accept it as truth...and then we act upon that lie. We sin.
And JOY is blocked.
Oh, it may not be immediate. We hear the lie and entertain its possibility of accuracy. Maybe God's ways are not the path of blessing for us. Maybe it is "legalistic" to live as God commands. Maybe we might even experience some "fleeting pleasure of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). And perhaps there will not be any undesirable consequences if we choose the path God says NO to.
But after a time, we find Proverbs 20:17 to be true. Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
Why do we sin? Because we become deceived. Deceived to believe a lie. A lie that casts doubt on God's goodness to us. A lie that promises another path to joy.
A lie that eventually disappoints and fails and ensnares us...into further sin.
So if we sin because we have believed a lie, and we believe the lie because we are deceived, how do we become deceived in the first place?
It's a vicious destructive cycle. When we give in to sin (even "little" ones), our awareness of TRUTH is diminished. We lose some of our ability to discern right from wrong, we become dull to the difference between TRUTH and ERROR.
We sin because we have believed a lie. We believe the lie because we have been deceived. We have been deceived because we have opened ourselves to sin.
The path to JOY - to blessing and peace and contentment and confidence - is righteousness. Truth.
No matter how appealing or benign the lie may seem.