Be Killing Your Sin, part 5

I’ll admit it; we have a wordy mission statement as a church. Magnifying God together as maturing, ministering, and multiplying followers of Jesus. That’s a mouthful. But if we could shorten that up—as we often do—we could sum it up like this: Following Jesus Together.

That’s who we are and what we want to be committed to here at Mountain Creek: We are a people who are committed to following Jesus together.

That’s exactly what Jesus calls us to do throughout the Scriptures. Psalm 95:1 invites us to come together before the Lord in worship: “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” In Colossians 3:16, Paul instructs us, out of the overflow of “the word of Christ dwelling in you (that is, literally, a plural you, or “y’all”) richly” that we are to be “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.”

When we think about coming together as believers in the Christian life, these are the kinds of things we think about: coming together for worship. For singing. For teaching. But equally important, Scripture tells us that we’re to be together to help one another fight sin. That’s the final thing in this series of blog posts on putting your own sin to death: We need each other’s help in the fight against sin.

I believe that’s implied in verses like Colossians 3:16, and even more so in passages like Hebrews 10:24–25: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

But where it’s implied and strongly implied in other places, this idea that we need each other to put sin to death is crystal clear in at least two places in the New Testament:

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:22

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:12–13

Notice, first, that Paul in 2 Timothy instructs us to both “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” Instead of pursuing youthful passions, we’re to pursue holiness, exactly what we considered in part three of this series. But then don’t miss what he says next. We’re to do that—we’re to flee sin and we’re to pursue righteousness, we’re to “put off” sin and “put on” holiness—“along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

You and I are specifically commanded to put sin to death and to cultivate holiness along with other believers.

God has designed us for community. What did we see just two weeks ago in Genesis 2? “It is not good for man to be alone.” We were made for community, and community (found primarily in the local church) isn’t just because some of us need others to drown out our bad singing, and it’s not just because we need others to serve as teachers, and it’s not just because we can pool our resources together and take the gospel to the ends of the earth—it’s also for the purpose of helping us fight sin and pursue Christlikeness in our lives.

The hard part is that this means we’ve got to be open and honest and transparent with others in the church. We’ve got to allow others inside our lives, which means inside our homes, with our families, walking with us through life so that they can help us see things about our struggles that we don’t see ourselves. We’ve got to be willing to have conversations where we talk about our weaknesses and receive words of encouragement, and even correction, and even rebuke if necessary.

That’s what the writer to the Hebrews is expressing in Hebrews 3. Fighting sin is a community project. He is warning us against the danger of “an evil, unbelieving heart” in any one of us, because such a heart would lead that person “to fall away from the living God.”

What’s the remedy? We’re all to “take care” that this doesn’t happen by exhorting one another, that is, by encouraging one another, urging one another, cautioning one another, so that none of us are “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

God has given us a way to be protected from sin’s deception, and that’s in the community of his people. God has given us a way to be protected from falling away, and that’s in the community of his people. It’s impossible to kill sin without the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit-enabled means of putting sin to death in our own lives is to follow Jesus with others who are following Jesus.

So let’s close by considering a few questions:

  • Who do you have in your life who is helping you intentionally fight sin?
  • Who have you given permission to ask you the hard questions?
  • From whom are you willing to receive words of encouragement, correction, and even rebuke?

Or perhaps we should back it up a step or two, and ask these first:

  • What follower of Jesus are you building a relationship with, so that you can carry out 2 Timothy 2:22 together?
  • Who in your Life Group can you invite over to dinner with your family, or regularly eat lunch with, so that you can begin living this out?

Let’s not allow “Following Jesus Together” to just be a saying at Mountain Creek. Let’s have it be an integral part of who we are and how we live – we’re “fleeing youthful passions and pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace” together.

That’s what it means to follow Jesus together.

Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash