A 75-year old grandmother had a serious problem with shoplifting. She consulted a counselor who cured her stealing habit.
The cure went like this: imagine you getting caught and having your daughter and little grandkids coming to the police station and seeing you in handcuffs. See their faces in your mind.
Whenever she had the urge to shoplift, she saw her grandkids’ faces and she wouldn’t steal.
Seems like this is a win: right triumphs over evil. Except examine what it is the counselor used to help her: nothing but her own pride. Getting caught would be embarrassing.
Christianity often uses this tactic to help people overcome sin. They play the pride card: You’re better than that. Sin is embarrassing.
God did give us a conscience and I will certainly not deny the power of embarrassment to keep people doing right (depending on who you’re with, however, will change what it takes to get embarrassed!).
As with this grandma, because she was so afraid to get caught and see her grandkids cry, she also refrained from returning the stuff she stole. She was too good for that too.
We are not to stop sinning because we are better than that. We are not to stop sin because it will be embarrassing when we get caught. This is not Christianity; that is Pharisaism.
Christianity says we should not sin because we have been born again and God’s Spirit works in us as we work out imputed righteousness.
No, it’s not as flashy and does not have drastic images to keep us on the strait and narrow. Because of that, most churches will keep churning out guilt-ridden pride to thwart your sin nature.
It won’t work. You might stop some sins, but you’ll merely replace them with pride: “Hey, look how good I am, I don’t do those sins any more!”
Pride does not defeat sin; love does, specifically the love of Christ on your behalf. Christ in you is the only safe way to defeat sin.
“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”