In this series of blogs that I am writing, I am sharing with you the 10 Rules for Living that I am endeavouring to forge into my lifestyle. I am convinced that what the world needs most is men who not only decide to follow Jesus in the sense of making a decision for Him, but who are also willing to do whatever it takes to live like Christ. The result being an epic change in the world where they live. So, a quick reminder of the first two rules:
- I will relentlessly pursue God; and when I lose sight of Him, I will hunt Him down.
- I will study His Word and let it shape my life!
The third rule or principle by which I am trying to live is all about the decisions that I make regarding my behaviour (when I am seen by others, but also when no-one is watching). ‘I will not let sin have mastery over me.’
Now, let me be clear before I go any further, following Christ is never a matter of ‘behaviour-management’, in the sense of if I just try harder, and do better God will think more of me’. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are grafted into the family of God, and our God is a good, good father who loves us to bits (and crucially loves us for who we are). So, the whole idea of not letting sin have mastery over me is not about seeking approval. It is literally the way my life will go from average to world-changing, from typical to hugely significant. And, I know that deep down, all of us want to live properly significant lives.
A few years ago, I watched the Tom Cruise movie, The Last Samurai. To be honest after the first 10-15 minutes I was really tempted to turn to a different channel, but I am grateful that, for whatever reason, I stuck at it and watched the entire film.
There is a point in the film when Tom Cruise is trying to learn the Samurai fighting tradition. Not to put it too bluntly; he gets his butt kicked over and over again. Finally, he slumps down in a frustrated heap and looks like he is about to give up. His teacher turns to him and says “…you have too many mind.” In other words, so many other things distracted him that he was not able to focus on the one thing that would make all the difference.
I know, I know, not many of us are wielding swords or fighting battles using the arts of ancient warfare. But then again, are we not doing exactly that within a spiritual context? Our enemy, Satan, has had thousands of years to study human behaviour and, dare I say, human weakness. He knows exactly how to take us out, and our only defence is not to be distracted. It is to have one mind, one mind fully focussed on Jesus Christ and fully determined to not let sin take us out.
My friends, there are things we do that sometimes feel inconvenient, especially within our busy lives. The things I am speaking of are reading His Word, praying, worshipping, hanging out with likeminded brothers—all of these things are not simply good things to do, they are essential. When we combine all these things with a determination to live well and not let sin have mastery over our lives, we are then engaging in the ancient spiritual art of fierce mastery!
Remember what God said to Cain, right back at the dawn of time: “Sin is lurking at the door of your heart, but you must have mastery over it!” (Genesis Ch 4 v 7).
The Christian life is a life that is utterly amazing, it is not without its difficulties and challenges, but it is utterly amazing. But there is a truism in the whole of life and that is, if we are going to experience life in all its fullness then we have to work and sometimes fight hard to live it well.
So, I invite you to invest in these three things: Pursue God, love His Word and exercise fierce mastery over sin in your life. These three things alone, done consistently, will utterly change your life.
And the final piece of advice I would like to give you comes from The Code, number XII:
“If I fail, I will never give up. He never gives up on me!”