graphic that says It's Summer Time

It’s summertime.  Everyone is trying to slim down and trim up to look good at the beach or lake.  Maybe if we lose a couple of pounds, that person we’ve been chasing after will notice us. 

It’s mind boggling how much money is invested on quick fixes to the outward appearance of our bodies.  Billions and billions of dollars are spent on the heavily saturated market for diet plans.  The options on ways to try and drop a few pounds are endless.  Here are three generic ones:

1.    We have the option to completely starve ourselves.

2.    We can just eat less and work ourselves to death in the gym or doing yoga.

3.    We can eat right and keep up a regular normal routine of exercise.

Truth is, only one of these plans is the healthy way to not only lose the weight, but to keep the weight off.  Not only that, it is the most efficient way and doesn’t leave us feeling tired, defeated, stressed or uncomfortable to the point we give up.

The same concept goes for a life driven by the power of SIN.  Sin as a verb is basically just a behavior—a choice that led to a certain course of action that one person pursued.  Sin as a noun is the driving force behind the nature of “bad behavior.” 

As a kid, we become terrified of sinful behavior.  We hear how we’re “going to hell,” or that if we love Jesus then we would stop whatever the sin was.  Honestly, this just makes things worse.  We try to live up to an “ideal behavior” placed on us by another human being rather than our heavenly Father—Abba, Daddy, i.e. the One who loves us regardless of what our actions are.

We are rarely shown the proper way to address our hurts, habits and hangups.  It’s like option number one in losing weight.  “Just quit!”  If you have a drinking problem, just quit.  If you have a porn addiction, just quit.  If you have a problem of overeating or gossiping, just quit.  Truth is every time we try and fail, we feel weak.  We may see results for a short period of time, but they never hold up.  The idea of just starving or quitting to fix the problem has the potential for a quick turnaround, but when left unmanaged, it leaves us tired and defeated.

Then there is option 2.  We can just cut back on things, make substitutions.  As an alcoholic, maybe I’ll just drink beer instead of liquor.  As a drug addict, I’ll just smoke a little weed.  As a glutton, I’ll just cut out red meat and carbs so that I can splurge on milkshakes and ice cream.  The mindset is just to cut back on certain things while trying to overwork and overexert your body to still enjoy these guilty pleasures.  The same goes for a life of sin. We try to overwork and over spiritualize our outer lives by doing good works, attending church and singing.  Whatever it takes to cover the rotten inside, where the root of the issue is.  We find ourselves overworked, seeing little results and we always wind up back where we started.

Then there is option 3.  Instead of focusing on what we are doing, we focus on what we are consuming.  A smart diet includes fresh greens, proteins and carbs coupled with a steady and manageable workout plan.  Just walk a little.  You find that when you change what you are putting in your body, miraculous things can happen on the inside.  Your digestive tract starts working properly.  You can actually eat as much as you want because the food is clean and considered superfoods.  It naturally increases your metabolism.  Your energy levels rise.  You feel lighter on our feet.  Your skin begins to look healthier.  You look a little younger.  You feel energized and can’t really explain how.  The change happens on the inside and then shows on the outside.  It may be a little more difficult because the results aren’t drastic at first.  It even kind of sucks at first.  However, as soon as the weight begins to come off, it tends to come off faster.  You don’t feel tired and you look good!

The same goes for a life of sin.  You don’t focus on the “what” or the outside behavior.  Rather, you have an encounter with Jesus.  He cleans out the old you and puts His Spirit inside. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you... And I will put my Spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Then the change that happened on the inside of you begins to show on the outside.  It is undeniably true and everlasting.  You don’t feel beaten down.  You feel rejuvenated.  It's not behavior modification that sets people free.  It is the change within.  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Spiritual fitness gives you the hope, peace, joy, love, acceptance and worth that no behavior modification could ever give you.  Win from within.

What about you? Do you find yourself trying to clean yourself up or straining to stop something that seems impossible? At Crossway, we love helping folks win from within as they learn to rest in the work that God has already done through Jesus in them. Give us a call. We would love to hear from you!