Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. (Psalm 19:13)
I’ve always found hope in this passage. My kind of sin is not the kind that accidentally happens, or sneaks up on me, or the “Devil made me do it.” My kind of sins are accomplished by my own choice.
So what is a deliberate sin?
Some of the other definitions for deliberate are presumptuous, arrogant, and proud.
This sort of sin proceeds from an attitude self-confidence, or reliance on one’s own strength. Have we fallen into that trap? To prop up my rep; to advance my career? Choosing comfort over obedience, disinterest over compassion, arrogance over service? Where we think we can do it on our own? Or in a more accurate context, where we think we can do it on our own— without God? That’s a scary place to be, and if these sorts of sins become our practice, then we shall be far from God.
What does it mean to be controlled?
The Hebrew word for control also means to have dominion, or rule, or authority. Do you really want your sin to rule your life? Is that not the rightful place for God?
The word that gives us hope in this verse, is the first word: keep. Other definitions are: to restrain, to hold back, to keep in check. Having God doing the keeping is the only way we can keep our lives from being ruled by our sins— which by the way, are the very sins that have been paid for by the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus not only has paid the penalty of our sins, but He has taken away its power. So why would we kneel before a defeated foe? We ought not.
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:12-15)
Another word for patiently endure is persevere. Now there’s a point to persevering or enduring, and Jesus stated plainly: You’ll be hated by all because of My name; but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Mark 13:13) In James you endure the testing and the temptation because you will receive the crown of life. With Jesus we endure the hatred and the persecution to be saved.
Two things we can learn from these passages. First, we will have to face testing and temptation, hatred and persecution. Second, we can endure them, and win! In fact, the purpose of the things we must endure is to growth in the faith.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)