I have read in numerous places that when you are battling a particular sin in your life, you need to give it to God and let Him change you. By itself it is a statement that is very passive. And there is never further explanation on how exactly to do that. Without those next steps, it is easy to believe that all we have to do is sit back, say “Here you go, God. I’m just going to go about my business as usual, and you can change me.” We continue on. If we sin, we just sort of shrug it off and remind ourselves that we have given it to God, and He is working. Eventually the sin will just be gone. And we won’t have had to do a thing to get there.

With this way of thinking, though, we really have no reason to accept responsibility for our sins. After all, if God is responsible for changing us, then what is there for us to do? We are free of guilt because every time we fail, it is because God hasn’t finished changing us yet. We are free to not have to work to change, too. After all, God is doing that work for us.

There is a problem with this line of thinking. If we are not responsible for our sin, or for changing our behavior, why does God see the need to discipline us? A person is disciplined when they have done something wrong, and correction is required. When one of my boys halls off and slugs the other, he is disciplined. Why? Because it is wrong to slug his brother, and he needs to make a change in that behavior. If he bumps his brother, I don’t discipline him. It was an accident. While he needs to apologize, and be more careful, he is not responsible for wrong-doing, and so discipline is not necessary.

Hebrews 12: 4-8, 11 (NCV) say the following: You are struggling against sin, but your struggles have not yet caused you to be killed. You have forgotten the encouraging words that call you his children: “My child, don’t think the Lord’s discipline is worth nothing, and don’t stop trying when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as his child.” So hold on through your sufferings, because they are like a father’s discipline. God is treating you as children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you are never disciplined (and every child must be disciplined), you are not true children…. We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way.

The Bible tells us that God disciplines His children. Why?

If I am not responsible for changing my behavior, my sinful ways, then why must I receive the discipline that God administers? I must receive, and learn from God’s discipline because I am responsible for my sins, and I am responsible for changing my behavior. Now God has some pretty high standards. I can never live up to them on my own. Jesus died for me because I would never be able to pay the debt, bear the full weight of God’s punishment for my sin. As God’s child, through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, I am seen as righteous in the eyes of God. But that still does not excuse my sin. I still need to change. I can’t do it on my own. It is impossible. Neither can I sit back in my recliner and say, “God, do the work for me.” It’s a team thing. I work hard. I try. I slip and fall, ask forgiveness, get up and try again. And God helps me. He helps me to recognize my sin, with the urging of the Holy Spirit. He convicts me when I have failed. He offers me grace so I can be free to try again.

One of my sons has Autism. He sees a counselor to help him learn how to deal with life’s situations. One thing he is working on is recognizing the things that frustrate him, anger him, or cause him to be unsuccessful/unproductive as garbage trucks. When he sees a situation or person as a garbage truck, he is to STP. Stop. Think. And Plan. The sin in our lives are like garbage trucks. Sometimes it takes practice (and the help of the Holy Spirit) to recognize it . When we see it, we need to STP…Stop, and Take time to Pray. When we do that, we are taking responsibility, acting to enlist God’s help. And we are opening the door for Him to do His part in changing us. Day by day, moment by moment, this team (God and us) work to overcome the sin in our lives and bring us closer to the righteousness we will only fully achieve when in His glory. What a day that will be!!!!