Galatians 5:17 | Proverbs 6:12-15 | Luke 9:23,25 | John 8:7

“Why can’t you keep doing sins?”

Why can’t you keep doing sins? Because Jesus wants better for you.

The problem is: it’s not easy to stop sinning. The Apostle Paul explains…

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

(Galatians 5:17 NLT)

It’s called “sinful nature” because you are born with it, this desire to do evil, selfish things. So the easiest choices to make would be selfish, evil ones. Consider where this easy path would lead you.

What are worthless and wicked people like? They are constant liars, signaling their deceit with a wink of the eye, a nudge of the foot, or the wiggle of fingers. Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble. But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing. 

(Proverbs 6:12-15 NLT)

You would be trotting along down the path of least resistance, giving yourself everything your little heart desires, when suddenly…BOOM! Broken beyond all hope of repair.

Could it be that our loving Heavenly Father (we’re talking about God here) wants a better ending to our story? And that’s why Jesus tells his followers to deny their little hearts all those selfish, evil desires each day?

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

(Luke 9:23 NLT)

‘Giving up your own way’ and ‘taking up your cross daily’ don’t sound like much fun, so Jesus puts the situation in perspective for us:

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?

(Luke 9:25 NLT)

As you answer Jesus’ come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live invitation, be careful not to be like the Pharisees, who trusted Not Sinning more than they trusted their loving Heavenly Father (still talking about God). They were more than ready to bash the woman caught in adultery with stones.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

(John 8:7 NLT)

Everyone has the same selfish, sinful nature. So follow Jesus in showing compassion to other selfish, sinful people. And save your stones for building.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Do you think it is possible to stop sinning completely? Why, or why not? 
  • After reading Galatians 5:17…
    • What is the force that battles your sinful nature?
    • Why is the ‘S’ in Spirit capitalized? 
    • What kind of desires does the Spirit give us?
    • If not sinning is a byproduct of following the Holy Spirit, would it be better to focus on following the Spirit than on not sinning? 
  • Which do you think is more important to God, your staying sinless or your staying in a relationship with him? Are these two related, and if so, how? If not, why?

Application: Sin As a Restaurant

[The idea for this comparison came from a sermon outline by Grady Scott]

Your attitude toward a restaurant will determine how often you eat there. 

For example, one person may love a particular fast food restaurant– “It’s fast, cheap, and easy!” This person will frequent the restaurant, maybe even learning the names of the staff and asking for “my usual order” when they arrive.

Another person may hate the same establishment– “It’s fattening, cheap, and deadly!” This person might still eat at the restaurant, but only under the most dire circumstances… “I only had four minutes to get lunch,” or “The person in the last paragraph insisted we eat there!”

Do this:

  1. Write down a specific example of a restaurant that fits this description in your life–you love it or hate it–and provide details about how and why.
  2. Write down how this relates to a specific behavior in your life. This can be something you love doing or hate doing, something that builds you up or something sinful.
  3. If what you wrote for #2 didn’t deal with a sinful behavior, think of one in your life and consider how it relates to your restaurant example. If you feel comfortable doing so, write it down.
  4. Read what you wrote (and consider what you may not have written), then pray and ask the Holy Spirit to start changing your attitudes toward any sinful behavior that you love.

Suggested Prayer

Father, thank you for giving me choices about where I eat and how I act. Holy Spirit, please help me to follow you away from my sinful nature by gently reminding me where that nature leads, and whatever other creative ways you come up with. I know that you love me no matter what, but I want to follow your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.