As Christians we are always conscious of the need to avoid sin. There are numerous scriptures that describe those practices that we are to stay well away from and every believer knows that it is a constant battle. Often we can find ourselves losing the battle again and again and we can give in to despondency when nothing seems to be changing.
Paul describes this battle very well in Romans 7
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7: 15)
There can be a number of reasons why we seem to be constantly stuggling, but one of them, I have learned, is that we are only doing one half of what we need to do.
A regular theme in the Bible is the command not just to reject evil, but also to replace it with good. Put simply, if we’re not replacing our bad behaviour, thoughts, speech or attitudes with the right thing, we are only fighting half the battle, as the scriptures below show us.
Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4: 22-24)
Eph 2: 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands
Rom 12:9 Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Rom 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord
Rom 12: 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Col 3: 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things
Deut 15:7-8 do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs.
Ephesians 5:4 There should not be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving
In Matthew 12 Jesus describes this principle of replacement. Although the context here is demonic possession, it does show the importance of replacing evil with good in our lives.
When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Matt 12 43-45)
As we replace what we shouldn’t be doing, saying and thinking with what God wants, we give sin less room to operate.
Fight both sides of the battle.