Health issues, relationship tensions, and financial struggles place tremendous pressure upon people. But one particular source of pressure is rooted even deeper within us. I am referring of course to the ever-present problem of sin. Needless to say, this little 3-letter word packs quite a punch.
Adam and Eve were perfect when God created them. They made the tragic choice to sin against their Creator, and the spiritual disease of sin has been passed down from parents to children ever since. When writing to Christians in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul described their spiritual condition prior to conversion.
“You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
My wife recently underwent surgery when it became necessary to remove and replace a herniated disc in the lower part of her neck. The C5-C6 disc was putting pressure on the nerve roots next to her spinal cord. Tammy felt this painful pressure for about a year and often held her right arm in the air to relieve the numbness she was feeling. After initial remedies failed to relieve the pain, we were blessed with a terrific surgeon and a successful surgery. The neck pain and pressure are now completely gone.
Sin does something similar by placing spiritual pressure upon the “nerves” of our soul. This real pressure can make us numb to the Lord’s will for our life. You see, we were not created to live for sin, but for the glory and honor of our Creator.
Sin means to “miss the mark” of God’s holy standard. We have all sinned in our thoughts, words and actions. And we have all felt the guilt and the pressure that sin produces within us.
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22).
This inner restlessness applies to believers as well whenever we choose to engage in sin. It interrupts God’s peace in our souls and places considerable pressure upon our heart and mind. For example, David felt miserable after sinning against God by committing adultery and murder.
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4).
It was only when David repented of his sin and confessed it to the Lord that the pressure was lifted from his soul.
Assemblies of God minister Edwin Louis Cole wrote: "Temptation can be tormenting, but remember: The torment of temptation to sin is nothing to compare with the torment of the consequences of sin.”
When Cain was burning with anger toward his brother Abel, the Lord warned him: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).
Unfortunately, Cain refused to turn away from his evil intentions and charged right ahead and murdered his brother. The pressure of temptation was nothing compared to the pressures that followed.
The Lord said,
“What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:10-12)
If only Cain had obeyed God when sin was crouching at his door. If only he had heeded the Lord’s warning. Whenever we are planning to sin, we are on dangerous ground. Deliberate sin is even more damaging to our spiritual health than “hasty” sins, which are committed in the spur of the moment.
David wrote, “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13).
The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. Without this much-needed conviction, we would never confess our sins to God and turn away from them.
Jesus said, “When he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
Apart from the Holy Spirit’s conviction, each one of us would remain lost in our sin. We would ultimately receive a sentence of eternal punishment for our sins. (Matthew 25:41,46; Mark 9:44-48)
“It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Thankfully, Jesus came to pay for our sins by his death on the cross and to deliver us from the guilt, power, and eternal penalty of sin.
“Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
“Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
What particular sins are placing pressure on your life today? God is willing to perform surgery on your soul and address those areas with his grace and power.
Pastor Erwin McManus said, “I have so much confidence in the reality of Jesus that I feel no pressure to try to make people act or be a certain way. I’m banking everything on the fact that God actually changes people."
There is only one way to have your sins washed away. Turn to the Lord today in repentance and faith, as you pray:
“Forgive me Lord for my sins. I repent of them. Wash me, Jesus, with your precious blood. Empower me to live for you, and help me to stand strong and not open the door when temptation comes knocking. Amen."
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.