"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Heb. 12:1 e.s.v.
Jesus taught us
to pray that we not be led into, or that we might be led away from temptation.
But most, if not all of us, are confronted by the fact that that some sin
"clings so closely" that we internalize the temptation. To pray
against these sins we need to pray about our attitudes. The cynical word, the
rude remark or the angry explosion is preceded by an attitude of resentment or self-pity.
I suspect something similar is true about pornography or indulging in lusts or
severing relationships or whatever sin you fall into again and again.
I can trust
these wicked attitudes as if they were from God. I can also pray for God to transform
my thinking, and so my faith. It is not unbelief for me to pray, as I often do,
"Father, if you don't change my attitude, I will surely fall into
sin." But if I believe the sin will solve the problem or meet a need, I am
putting my faith in the sin. Especially if your clinging sin relates to angry
words, you are tempted to put your faith in them to bring about righteousness.
But the wrath of man never brings about the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
I am aware that Jesus got quite angry on occasion. And I suspect we should be
angry about some things. But most anger is selfish and foolish. And if
resentment is just beneath my skin, I will trust it before I think about
calling on God.
I also need to
pray for my bad attitudes to be replaced with good attitudes. I need an
attitude of endurance when things are difficult. If a runner in a long distance
race dwells on how steep the hill he is on, or on how much better he would feel
if he quit, he will be less likely to finish. If a runner thinks of anything
but putting one foot in front of the other, he needs to be thinking of the
finish line that he will reach if he endures the difficulty which is part of