Many of us have pets. Some kind of animal to keep, feed, and care for. We can become so close to our pets that we think of them as members of the family. 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 of us have sins we keep as pets. Familiar habits or old crisis mechanisms that give us relief, comfort, and satisfaction when our flesh is screaming 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 about when we are confronted about it. A sin that torments us at our weakest point and yet the one we can’t seem to get free from. A sin that we easily 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 possibly the most dangerous sin to our own souls, and one that can hinder our spiritual progress. It can destroys our confidence, compromise our witness, and keep us from realizing our potential.
In spiritual warfare the greatest battles are always the internal ones, the battles that 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 soul.
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 getting victory over a pet sin, and sometimes it can seem just as difficult. The victories we have in private prepares us for the type of victories that will change nations.
Galatians 5:16-18 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.
If we are battling to keep the flesh under control, struggling to deny it from having dominance in our lives, it is likely we have not given ourselves fully to walking in the Spirit. When we struggle with a certain sin that continues to trouble us, we must be honest with ourselves and be willing to make the changes necessary to get the victory. Walking in the Spirit has two distinct characteristics and can be easily measured in our lives. Freedom from pet sins must start with this simple, two part assessment;
- Am 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. This gives us the spiritual ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying in our hearts. If we do not start here, with this first step, our hearts will become hardened, our conscience will become seared, our spiritual ears will become deaf, and our spiritual eyes will be darkened.
This will prevent us from embracing the second step of walking in the Spirit which is hearing the spoken word of God, 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, being sensitive to the still small voice inside us, are all things we must develop and grow in. However, it is almost impossible to be successful in being 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 ears to hear what He speaks by the Spirit, or eyes to see when He is leading us by the Spirit. It all starts with our own personal relationship with the Bible.
Being a disciple is to live a life governed by the written word, as well as the spoken word. It is only then that we will become a healthy expression of the living word, Jesus Christ.
James 1:21-25 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to 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 the things 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 loose the ability to discern truth.
Self deception then becomes our reality. We begin to live a lie, believing we are disciples of Christ yet 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 our own deception. We get stuck in a cycle of sin and make it our pet.
Flesh will always war against the things of the Spirit because of its fallen nature. Everyone deals with this, even Paul the Apostle had these battles and he describes them in Romans 7:
Romans 7:16-25 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Pet sins hold us captive to the flesh and the law of sin and death. They literally hold us captive to the Old Testament law so the we never fully embrace New Testament grace. It is one of Satan’s most prized deceptions.
Even after we cast those pet sins out of our house they will try to drop by for a visit once in a while. They will ask us to feed them and be looking for a way to get back into our house. They may even have several of their buddies with them looking to be fed as well. The thing is, its not really our house, its God’s house, and He has a no pets rule written into the contract.
Flesh is our enemy
Romans 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The word “enmity” in verse 7 literally means hostile opposition, or hatred toward God. The carnal mind, our flesh, is God’s enemy, therefore it should be our enemy. We must all come to the place where we see our pet sins as our enemy.
God has promised to deliver us from our enemies, not our pets!
Many of us don’t realize we are feeding our carnal, fleshly desires. We think that what we are doing is no big deal. IT IS A BIG DEAL! Let me give you a some examples; If you have been delivered from drugs and you know that it has a strong pull on your flesh, any thing that would stir up old memories and desires should be avoided. Movies with drug abuse, talking about how you used to use, or even driving through the part of town where you used to buy drugs can all be triggers that let “the cat” in the door.
If you struggle with overeating, or binging junk food, it is much easier to win the battle if you stay out of the junk-food isle in the grocery store. If it stimulates any of your five senses, it WILL begin to pull on you. If the shortest route to your destination is through an area that stirs up memories of past sins, TAKE ANOTHER ROUTE! The long way is better than the wrong way.
What about being addicted to entertainment? Surfing the internet, social media, video games? Wasting hours every day on mindless, foolishness? Is that really harmless? Or is it stealing the life right out of you, keeping you from things more important and warring against your soul?
If you think it is no big deal, or if you think you are strong enough to handle it. You may wake up one day and realize that the little thing that is “no big deal,” has now become your very large pet and is demanding to be fed! If flesh is the enemy of God, it is our enemy as well. If we feed our enemy he gets stronger and has more power to do us harm. If we feed our spirit, it will grow stronger and overcome the flesh.
What we feed grows. What we starve dies.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
This verse of scripture may seem like a two step program to victory over the devil but it is not. It is a one step program. Submitting to God IS resisting the devil. Remember that the enemy has already been defeated by Jesus. Submitting to God, by obedience to His word, embraces, and enforces that victory and causes that pet to run right out the door.
“Pet sins takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we want to pay.”
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