When we look at our lives and the world around us, what do we see? I hope we see God. I know the world gets pretty dark sometimes, but there is evidence of God all around us, and we need to remember that. His handiwork is magnificent, His Word is powerful, and His people continue to work for Him. God is good. But God is not all we see in the world. We also see sin and darkness. In fact, we all sin and have done things that have not been pleasing to God (Romans 3:23). So, how do we keep sin out of our lives? How do we keep sin away? Here are five things we can do to keep sin out of our lives.
- Pray The ability to go to God in prayer is a glorious gift that has been given to us by God and it should not be taken lightly. Our prayer life is between us and God, and it is important. That is why Jesus teaches us about prayer in Matthew 6:5-14 – to show us how to pray and in what frame of mind we should be in when we go to God in prayer. Our continual prayers should be reverent prayers to the Almighty God out of a believing heart (Matthew 6:9-13, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Our prayer life is a time that we get to talk to the Lord, with all praise and all thanksgiving, and lay our anxieties and requests before Him (Philippians 4:6). If we will pray to God out of a sincere and believing heart, we can be sure that the Lord hears our prayers (1 John 5:14-15). If we want to keep ourselves away from sin, we must have an active and faithful prayer life.
- Study God’s Word Most people if asked a question about their job, spouse, family, or hobbies would be able to give a correct answer or at least give an educated guess. Could we all say the same if we were asked a question about the Word of God? If we truly want to keep ourselves away from sin, then we must study the Word. Our hearts and minds need to be prepared for when sin presents itself. The Word of God contains all that we need to know about how to live and how to be pleasing to God. (2 Peter 1:3.) If we will study the Word of God and put those things into our hearts and lives, then we will be pleasing to Him and be able to keep ourselves away from the grasp of sin (2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Surround Yourself Now this may seem kind of weird to think about because we cannot actually surround ourselves, but we can put the right kind of people around us and put ourselves in the right kind of environment. We have probably heard somebody say before, “I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.” That works when we are talking about things like car accidents or other unforeseen circumstances, but it doesn’t really work when we are talking about sin. While it is true that sin is everywhere and that we have a responsibility to teach the lost the gospel of Christ, when we intentionally put ourselves in bad environments and around those that tempt us with sin, we are setting ourselves up for failure and sin. “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We do need to teach the lost, but we need to do so without becoming like the world (Romans 12:1-2). We need to surround ourselves with people and environments that will make us stronger in Christ so that as we go out in the world we can be ready for whatever comes our way.
- Remove and Replace “Stop it! Stop it!” Everybody can relate to being told to stop doing something dangerous, harmful, or wrong. But there is a difference between stopping something that is wrong and doing something that is right. To just stop an evil action is good, but to replace that evil action with good is better. When you consider the addictive nature of sin, if we do not fill our lives with good, sin can very easily find its way back in. In Galatians 5:19-26, we see the works of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit. Notice that the works of the flesh are to be put to death and that we are to live and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). Something evil goes away and something good takes its place. When dealing with sin, it is always good to stop the evil that is in our lives, but we also need to walk according to the Word of God.
- Make a Plan and Follow it Sin is dangerous, and we need to keep a close watch on ourselves to be sure we are not being lured away by our own desires (James 1:14). When asked, I have given advice to several different people about a practical approach to not falling back into sin. The real solution is found in the Word of God, and in it is the Way to eternal life. On a practical side of things, it is all about desire and decisions. Hearts must be changed, and decisions must be made. It may take a lot of hard work, but desires can be changed. Our hearts and desires can be changed to desire the things of God, but we have to want to change. You know yourself better than anyone. Make a plan and follow it. When you wake up in the morning, know who you want to be and where you eternally you want to go. Take notice of the temptations that are in your way and make a plan that will keep you heaven-focused all day long. If it takes it, literally make a schedule for your day. Be sure to include first and foremost times to pray, times to study, and times to serve God. Ultimately, if we truly want to stay away from sin, we must be willing to submit to God and truly live for Him.