Let me summarize this week’s series on chronic sin patterns with some practical advice that Paul offered in Romans 12. In verses 1-2, he wrote, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NLT).
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? You know, that annoying tune or lyric that just won’t go away, no matter how hard you try? I think that experience is a good example of why we struggle to overcome sin in our lives. When we see it, we don’t like it, and we want to be rid of it. No matter how hard we try to stop, it seems to get stronger and stronger. Just like that song stuck in our heads. The principle Paul offered in Romans 12:1-2 is that we overcome sin by replacement.
Let’s try an experiment. I’m going to give you a mathematical equation that you can solve. Don’t say the answer, simply think it. Ready? 3 + 4 = __________. Got it? Think about the answer. Now stop thinking it. No matter how hard we try to not think “7,” it seems to still be fixed in our minds.
Now let me give you a second equation. 2 + 6 = _________. Think about the sum of that equation. Now that you’re thinking “8,” what happened to “7?” It’s gone. You have replaced the value of 7 with a new value, 8. That’s what Paul is driving at when he writes of renewing our minds.
Sin in our lives becomes a value fixed in our minds. We can try to overcome it by avoidance techniques, but at the end of the day, the only way we can overcome it is to exchange the value with a greater value. When we sin we are placing value on a means that will satisfy some desire in life. But when we discover the surpassing greatness of Jesus and make him our supreme value, it diminishes the value we attach to sin.
In 1922, Helen Lemmel penned the lyrics to a hymn that expresses this more clearly than I could hope:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”
If you have a song stuck in your head, the best way to get rid of it is to sing a new song.