Many of us have pets—an animal to keep, feed, and care for. We can become so close to our pets that we consider them family members. They provide companionship and comfort when we are hurt, depressed, or suffering from anxiety. Pets are always there when we need them, and they never fail to give us that dose of “feel good” when we seem to need it most.
Many Christians have the same mindset toward particular sins and they keep those sins as pets. Familiar habits or old crisis mechanisms that give them relief, comfort, and satisfaction when their flesh screams at the top of its lungs to “FEED ME!”
A pet sin is the one we run to when we are tired or feeling weak. The sin we defend, protect, and get angry over when we are confronted about it. A sin that torments us at our most vulnerable point and yet the one we can’t seem to get free from. A sin that we quickly yield to, even though we know we shouldn’t. A pet that we make provision for and feed in secret. We run to it for instant gratification and then feel guilty immediately after we yield to it.
It is a dangerous deception to our souls and one that can hinder our spiritual growth and progress. It can destroy our confidence, compromise our witness, keep us from realizing our full potential, and disqualify us from God’s abiding presence.
The most significant battles are always the internal ones, the struggles we fight when no one else is around. Even with help and accountability, we must take up the sword of the Spirit for ourselves and conquer the things that torment us in our souls.
Before King David killed Goliath in front of two nations, he won victories over a lion and a bear when no one else was around. Getting victory over a lion and a bear is much like overcoming a pet sin. Sometimes, it can seem as difficult as fighting a bear or a lion. The successes we have in private prepare us for the type of public victories that will turn the hearts of men and change nations.
Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Suppose we are battling to keep the flesh under control, struggling to deny it from dominating our lives. In that case, it is likely, that we have not given ourselves entirely to walking in the Spirit. We must be honest with ourselves and ask, “Am I feeding the flesh more than I am feeding the Spirit?”
We must be honest with ourselves and be willing to make the changes necessary to get victory one very area of our lives. Walking in the Spirit has two distinct characteristics and can be easily measured in our lives. Obtaining freedom from tormenting sin must start with this simple, two-part assessment.
- Am I walking faithfully in what I have learned from God’s written word?
Obedience to what we learn from the Lord is the foundation of walking in the Spirit and gives us the spiritual ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying in our hearts. If we do not start with this first step, our hearts can become hardened, and our consciences will become seared, our spiritual ears and eyes will be dulled and darkened.
This prevents us from embracing the second step of walking in the Spirit, which is hearing God’s spoken word and being led by the Spirit.
2. Am I walking faithfully in what I am hearing and perceiving, from God’s spoken word?
Being watchful and attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit is the second step. Learning to live by the unction of the Holy Spirit, the leading of peace, and being sensitive to the still small voice inside us, are all things we must develop as we mature. However, it is challenging to be led by the Spirit if we are not committed to obeying the written word.
God is always speaking to us in some way. Without our commitment to discover and obey what God has already said in His written word, we won’t have our ears tuned to hear what He speaks by the Spirit. Neither will we have spiritual eyes to see and discern when He is leading us by the Spirit. It starts with our intimate relationship with the Lord through His written word.
Being a disciple is to live a life governed by the written word, as well as the spoken word. Only then do we become a healthy expression of the living word, Jesus Christ.
James 1:21-25 (NKJV) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which can save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
If we are not committed to doing what we have learned from God’s written and spoken word, we quickly become self-deceived. We forget who we are and why we are here. Our identity comes into question, and we lose the ability to discern the truth.
Self-deception then becomes our reality. We begin to live a lie, believing we are disciples of Christ while refusing to follow Him. We are no longer walking in the Spirit, so we continue to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We hang on to parts of our old nature and shackle ourselves to the enemy’s deception. We get stuck in a cycle of sin and make it our pet.
Quoted from the book, The Spiritual Warfare Manifesto
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