We all start each year with the best of intentions, but if we’re not careful sin can trip us up and ruin everything about it. Here are ten things you need to be extra watchful for:
1. Physical Health. This is the one that we all expect. The Bible says that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Your body is a temple. How are you treating God’s temple? One of the huge disadvantages of being an American is that most of the hard labor is done for us, we work mostly sedentary jobs where we sit behind a desk, and we have access to junk food that will wreck us. If your body breaks down, everything breaks down. You can’t be effective for the Kingdom if you haven’t taken care of your body. Your physical health is an incredibly spiritual issue, but not just for honoring God. Your health gives you a better state of mind to make decisions, better emotional health, and better energy for your family. The way to throw off that weight is to literally throw off that weight and get your body in shape.
2. Sexual Sin. Now we get to the fun stuff. In that same passage where the Bible says that your body is a temple, the Bible makes a distinction between sexual sin and all other types of sin. Some of your years are going to be wrecked by sexual sin. Some are going to be tempted into having an affair that will wreck your marriage and destroy your relationship with your children. Some of you have a secret addiction to pornography that is eating you up from the inside out and destroying your capacity for sexual intimacy as God intended it. Some of you are in sexual relationships that are wrong and you know they’re wrong. As a Christian, as a person who’s pledged to live under God’s authority, you’re never going to reach your full potential when you’re living in sin. Sex can easily wreck your 2016. The way to throw off this sin that can entangle is to add accountability to your life. You need someone that you can be transparent with and that can hold your feet to the fire. It may be a trusted friend, it may be a small group at church, it may be a pastor.
3. Addictions. This is the sin that so easily entangles. It may be a sexual addiction like pornography, or it may be something like overeating, smoking, drinking. Ask a recovering addict and they’ll tell you: healing doesn’t begin until you admit that you need help and you reach out for your help. If you could kick this addiction on your own, you would have done it a long time ago. The enemy’s goal is for your addiction to remain in the dark, because nothing good grows in the dark. Eventually the enemy will have you right where he wants you: isolated, alone and defeated. Just like sexual sin, the way to break entanglement of addiction is through openness, transparency, accountability. And more than anything, you need the power of God unleashed in your life.
4. Love of Money. The Bible is very clear that the love is money is the root of all kinds of evil. It continues on to say that many people have pursued money, left the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. If your priority is money, making it, keeping it, spending it, then you’re consuming yourselves with worldly priorities. That excess weight will cripple your effectiveness for the Kingdom. The best antidote to greed is to give. Give of yourself: your time, your talents, your treasure.
5. Idol Worship. Your idol may not be money, it may be something else. God starts the Ten Commandments by stating that we are not to worship any other gods besides Him. Most of us think this doesn't apply to us because we don’t have little statues in our house. But an idol can be anything that draws our affections away from God. And this is where it gets scary for us. It doesn’t just have to be money. It can be something good taken too far. It can be a hobby that’s become an obsession. Your phone, your hobby, your sports team, your television, can all become idols if we’re not careful. A great way to get your priorities straight if something has become an idol to you is to fast from it, remove it from your life for a period of time to refocus your affections on God.
6. Broken Relationships. We don’t usually think of this, but our lives are so interconnected that if we have broken relationships, it will negatively affect every area of our life, becoming a weight that can hinder us. The answer is forgiveness, the answer is to be a peacemaker. This is where you have to lean on the power of God, for his strength and wisdom to put the relationships in your life back together. When you have strong, healthy, vibrant relationships with those around you, everything gets easier, including the race you’re called to run.
7. Self-Centeredness. This is the weight of pride, the weight of selfishness. This sin is incredibly deceptive because you can’t see it in the mirror. Now, everyone else around you can see it, but if you’re prideful you’ll never ask for their input. The Bible says that God actively opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. If you’re a self-centered demigod of your own little universe, you’re not even running the race because the race isn’t about you. The best way to keep this sin from entangling us and weighing us down is to serve others. Serving others flushes out the selfishness that creeps into all of our systems.
8. Laziness. This is the sin of entitlement, lack of responsibility. Some of us don’t like to work out because it’s too hard. Why get a job when the government will take care of me? Make no mistake, this race that we’re called to run is hard. It will push us. It will stretch us. Living a life on purpose for God is incredibly hard work. If you’re honest enough with yourself to admit that sometimes you can struggle with laziness, a solution for you is serving in community. You need positive peer pressure. You need people that can hold your feet to the fire and make you become the best possible potential of yourself.
9. Foolish Decisions. Some of us are going to have incredible intentions this year, but our dumb decisions are going to shipwreck us, whether it’s a dumb decision about a relationship, finances, an opportunity, or thinking that we can withstand a certain temptation. The solution to this entangling sin is to get in the Word and get around wise people. You don’t know it all, but God does, so get in His word. And get around wise people who can help you make wise decisions. The Bible says that the person who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.
10. Emotional/Mental Issues. I saved this one for last because many of the other sins can be traced back to this one. If your mind isn’t right, if your heart isn’t right, then you’re going to stumble. So if you want to really start 2016 year off right, resolve to get your mind right, get your heart right. If you can get your inner person in order, it will be much easier to take care of the rest.