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Can You Do This?

(Photo by Dorling Kindersley/Getty images)

We all remember the Middle School science classes that taught us the difference between dominant and recessive genes.  There were all these cool “do you/can you” questions, the Punnett squares  that showed us reasons why some of us have straight hair, some have curly, and, later in life, some have none at all.

One of the “can you” tests is if you can roll your tongue.  

Having spent many years as a Middle School science teacher, I can assure you that it’s a lot more fun to be in the role of instructor of these lessons than instructee.  Many middle schoolers who can roll their tongues, will roll the dickens out of them. For… days!  Then there are those who will hide their mouths behind their hands and shyly attempt the trick like a baby learning to roll over for the first time.

We learned that tongue rolling is due to a particular dominant genetic trait. If we don’t have the dominant gene for it, we can’t do it. 

Come to find out, that’s not necessarily the case.

Seems that, if this trait does not come to you naturally, you can actually train your tongue to roll.  The theory is that there is not a single dominant trait for this ability, but that there may be multiple genes that play into it- for example the genes that determine the tongue’s length or muscle tone. Here’s the article about the matter here.

One verse of Scripture that has troubled some believers over the years is I John 3:9. This verse says that “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” We can see why this verse is troubling.  Even after 45 years as a Christian, I still struggle with sin. I find myself confessing daily, and often battle the same sins repeatedly.  

If I can sin and do sin, does this mean that I’m not saved?

In John 3, Jesus introduces the truth that salvation involves a new birth. He tells Nicodemus that only those of us who are born of water and the Spirit can enter the kingdom of God. This is the truth behind that familiar phrase “born again.”

About a month ago, our family welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world.  Like most babies his age, Desmond doesn’t engage in verbal conversation. His mouth hasn’t learned to form words. He doesn’t yet run around the house with the other kids and animals. His legs haven’t learned to walk. And not only can’t he talk or walk yet, his mouth and legs haven’t yet developed the muscles and coordination to do those basic things.  Those are part of the process of growing.  His parents will train him to do those things, as well as other skills that he needs to survive and thrive in the world.

Our Heavenly Father has likewise provided us tools to grow spiritually.  The primary tool is His Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The Lord saves all of us out of lives that are dominated by sin.

When we are born again, we become new creatures spiritually, but outwardly, we have to learn to develop our spiritual coordination. We have to learn to walk in the Spirit, we have to learn to know God’s thoughts and see everything in our lives through His perspective.

We can train our flesh, through the study and application of God’s Word, to live according to the seed that abides in us- the Holy Spirit that gives us the desire, and the ability, to surrender ourselves to righteousness.  

The only way we can do that is to read the Bible.  That’s where the transformation begins. Our minds are transformed, they are re-trained. As we begin to yield our bodies to righteousness (right words, right thinking, right actions) we see ourselves become new every day. 

Back to the statement “he cannot sin” from I John- you see, it’s not that we no longer have the ability to sin. It’s just that we have lost the desire. Our nature has changed so that we choose to yield to the Spirit more so than the flesh. 

We have experienced the freedom of telling the truth, when being deceitful would have kept us out of trouble. We have experienced the peace that overtakes us when we turn off vulgar and profane programs. We have tasted the sweetness of our words when we don’t litter our conversation with profanity or gossip or anger or bitterness.  We have enjoyed the physical energy and health that comes by taking care with what we eat, drink, and with proper physical activity.  

We’ve experienced all those things offered by the enemy of our souls, and maybe even enjoyed them. But then we’ve experienced the goodness that comes from God and we have found the fulfillment our souls long for.  So we just can’t go back. We won’t go back.  We have trained ourselves to live according to the seed of righteousness that lives and grows within us. 

Maybe you are struggling with a particular sin today- something that keeps dragging you back in time and time again. You don’t have to continue to be bound by those chains when Christ offers us great freedom.  If you need help, and you want help, contact me for prayer and counsel.  I can’t teach you to roll your tongue, but I can help you find a plan for growing in righteousness.

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