Paul gives me some very practical help today. I need to read Romans 13:14 every day. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Today, I must not make provision for the lusts of my flesh. Whenever I go on a trip, I have to make provision. I gas up the car. I pack some bags. I check maps. I print out directions. I run through the ATM. I pack snacks and purchase food. None of these things is the same as going on the trip. They are making provisions for the trip.
Sometimes I make provisions for the lust of my flesh. Making those provisions is not the same as pursuing the lust of the flesh, but I’m preparing the way for it. I heard a great phrase to describe this. A friend of mine called it making “lust based decisions.” Making these decisions themselves may not be sinful. I can even justify making them because no one can prove they are wrong, but they are packing the bags and paving the way for sin.
Consider an alcoholic. Walking into a bar is not the same as drinking alcohol. I’m not sure anyone can actually prove that walking into a bar is wrong. Sitting at the bar when the restaurant is crowded is not the same as drinking alcohol. I’m not sure anyone can actually prove that sitting at the bar is a sin. But if I’m an alcoholic, what am I doing? I’m making lust based decisions. I’m packing my bags to drink. I’m making provision to sin. I must not be surprised when I actually do what I’ve committed not to.
Consider sexual lust. I’m thankful that alcohol has never been a problem for me, but lust has. I am learning to take God’s way of escape long before I get to the point of lust. I can’t walk down magazine aisles in grocery stores or book stores. I’m not saying that is a sin or that you can’t. I’m simply saying I’ve learned I can’t. For me, that is packing bags and providing to lust. That is a lust based decision because I know the magazines my eyes will find and what my mind will do with them. Is walking down that aisle the same as lusting? No. But for me it is providing for it. As much as I wanted to see it, I had to pass on watching the second Transformers movie. I had seen a trailer and learned very quickly that there was at least one scene that I simply couldn’t handle. Is it a sin to watch that movie? I doubt it. Can others watch it and not be bothered? I’m sure. But for me, going to that movie would have been packing my bags and making provision to lust. There are certain search terms I simply can’t put into Google images no matter how badly I need an illustration picture for a powerpoint presentation or blog post. There are certain streets I simply can’t drive down because I know the billboards that are there. I’ve learned I can’t drink coffee on the sidewalk of the downtown Starbucks in Franklin. You’d be amazed what some women wear down there. (I know some of you are saying, “Man, Edwin, you just need to buck up and get stronger.” I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked for me. Instead, I’ve got to learn not to even pack those bags because I’m not strong enough to make provision for my lusts and then decide not to lust.)
What about other fleshly lusts? What about hanging around in conversations that have turned to gossip? What about going to lunch with those who slander the boss? What about continuing to listen in on conversations that belittle the church’s elders? What about listening to music or watching shows that increase wrath, vengeance, hate?
Too many times I get caught up in arguments about drawing lines of what is actually a sin. I become convinced something is not a sin so I think I can pursue that, but eventually it leads me to sin and I wonder how it happened. The fact is, if I pack my bags to sin, if I study the map to sin, if I gas up my car for sin, if I make provision to sin, I’m probably going to sin.
Today, I need to remember that half-measures will avail me nothing. I’m not trying to be good enough to get into heaven. I’m hungering and thirsting for righteousness and I don’t want to do anything that will turn me from that. So, for today, I’m going to put on Jesus Christ. I’m going to pave the way, pack my bags, and make provision to pursue faith in Him. That is part of why I’m doing this reading every day. I hope it is helping you as well.
Keep the faith and keep reading,
P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?