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The Cleanup Takes Time

Jeremiah 44:18

“But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.”

Many believers are very much like the Jews in that they get right with God and expect God to immediately wipe out all the consequences of years of sinful living. Then they get upset and return to sinful living when the consequences of sin are not removed. The Jews were captives in Egypt, and their sin of worshipping the Egyptian gods led to battle, death, and famine. They were wise in wanting to get right with God, but they were unwise in only leaving off the worship of these idols instead of destroying them. When God didn’t turn their lives around immediately and bring them back to their homeland, they got upset and returned to their sinful life to their own detriment.

Many people want the consequences of sin to be cleaned up immediately, but it takes time to undo what years of sin have caused. It only takes a second to spill a glass of liquid, but it takes several minutes to clean up the mess that the spill took. It only takes a moment to get into an auto accident, but it takes weeks or years to undo what the accident caused. It only takes a few moments to ruin your finances, but it takes months and years to undo what a moment of unwise spending does in your life. Likewise, cleaning up the mess of what sin has caused in your life takes time. Let me give a couple of thoughts about the cleanup of sin.

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First, you can’t expect a couple weeks of living right to clean up what years of living wrong have caused in your life. You didn’t fall into sin; you walked into sin. The walk into sin was gradual until you were so deep that you met up with sin’s consequences. Every minute in sin causes sin to get its grime into the crevices of your life, and it takes time to undo what years of sin have caused to your life.

Second, going back to the old life of sin must never be an option when you get right with God. The mistake of the Jews was they left off the idols instead of getting rid of them. Many leave their sin around so they can return to it just in case righteous living doesn't turn their life around immediately. If you leave sin around, you will go back to it. Getting right with God means you will get rid of sin so you can never return to it. As long as you leave sin around, the pull for that sin will always draw you back.

Third, don't get mad at God and others because of what your sin has caused in your life. Many are upset with others because of what sin has done to their lives, but they are not the ones who have caused you to live in sin. The only person you need to get upset with is yourself. You are the one who chose to go into sin, and you are the one that caused sin’s consequences in your life. Don't get upset with those who are trying to help you for not taking away the consequences that sin has caused in your life.

Fourth, be patient with righteous living; it takes time for the fruit of living right to be harvested. Your choice to come back to doing right should be to do right because right is right and not because you want your life to be changed immediately. Certainly, one reason we get right is so that we can turn our lives around, but you be patient with righteous living as righteousness undoes what sin has caused in your life.

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