Leaving Sin Outside

Yesterday afternoon my son innocently brought his fishing pole into the basement.  We have rules about these types of things.  Fishing poles belong in the shed or possibly on the porch. They do not come into the house.  Fishing poles are in like sticks, big rocks, snakes, and lizards. They belong outside. My son knows this.  But like all of us, he sometimes does not do what he is told.
The bait on the pole looked like the one pictured above. It was big with numerous hooks designed to snare some large fish lurking beneath the surface of a local lake or river.  Each of these hooks has a barb designed to keep the fish from getting off the hook.  These barbs make extraction of a hook only slightly easier than extracting a tooth.   
Now what do you think happened when my son brought his rod into the house?  Do you think that lure just slid across the tile floor and caused no trouble. No. The hooks, all three of them, were promptly snagged on a blue couch cushion. (Lures do this. They gravitate, almost like they are alive, towards the place they can do the most harm.) I think my son tried to remove them, but hooks are designed to embed themselves deeper the more you mess with them.  By the time the cushion was laid contritely on my desk the hooks were entangled deep in the pillow. 

After about thirty minutes of labor that included a knife, pliers, and more than one muttered word of frustration, I finally removed all three hooks. The pillow was still usable, but it was no longer whole. The hooks had left their mark. 
As I sat extracting the lure, I thought how much this reminds me of my own life.  I know what God tells me to do. Do not lose your temper. Do not get bitter.  Do not be proud. Love your neighbor.  [Insert your own sin here.]  Yet I still bring sin into the house. Maybe I assume, like my son did, that the sin will not cause much trouble. It will innocently slide across the tile floor with little damage.  But that never happens.  Sin gravitates towards the place it can do the most harm.  Sin has barbs just like that lure did. When sin enters it finds a target and embeds itself deep. This may be my wife or my children or myself.  But sin never leaves its catch whole.  It can be removed but, there is always damage.  And if I am lucky the damage only takes a day or two to fix.   All because I did not listen.
I am grateful for Christ and his forgiveness. He takes away my sins and gives me grace that I might be restored. But I do not want to just keep coming back for forgiveness. I want to learn to leave sin where it belongs.  I want to listen to the Lord with an ear to obedience.   Christ has not just given me grace to be forgiven, but he has also given me grace to overcome. When I lean on this grace sin is not given the chance to hook me or my family. It is left where it belongs, outside. 

Open God’s Ears by Opening Your Own

“When our hearts are assured by God, we have confidence in prayer. We can ask whatever we want because we keep his commandments and live in a way please to God [I John 3:22].   John is not talking about ‘works righteousness,’ as if we could coerce God into doing us favors by our good works.  But he does say there is a causal connection between effective prayer and obedience: ‘whatever we ask we receive from Him, because [hoti] we keep His commandments.’ If you prayers are not being answered, examine yourself. Ask if you are walking in obedience. If you want God to open his ear to you, open your ears to him.” (Peter Leithart, From Beyond the Veil, p. 127)