We all know John Owen’s famous dictum: “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” But how is the Christian to go about doing this? This is easier said than done, especially when the sin in question is one in which we delight, one we struggle to resist, one we have trained ourselves to indulge! Earlier this week, I was listening to CJ Mahaney interview Dr. John Piper` on the subject of subduing the prideful desire to preach well before he mounts the pulpit. In his answer, he made reference to Dr. Packer’s famous acronym: APTAT. I found it helpful and thought I modify his points to help us in our devotional this morning.
“A” stands for Admit. I cannot do what needs to be done. As Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” The Photographic positive of this negative, Paul expounds well in his famous words: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You do realize this has a great deal more to say about the subject in question this morning than it does about carrying (or kicking) a pig’s bladder down a flat patch of turf! So the first thing we must do is to admit, “I cannot do this; it has to be done for me and in me if it is to be done at all.”
“P” stands for "pray." Pray for the power to say “No to worldly and ungodly desires” (Titus 2:11ff). Pray God will fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you might walk by the Spirit. When we walk by the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5).
“T,” “This,” Piper says, “is where the rubber meets the road.” “T” stands for trust a particular promise. I mean really trust the promise. Prayers in this vein, image Augustine’s favorite prayer of sanctification, “Lord command what ever thou wilt. But give what thou dost command!” My go to prayer in this regard is, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27, NKJV) . Another good verse you can use is, ““So then, my beloved…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12–13, NASB95). Such a prayer might sound like this, “Lord work in me to will and to do for your good pleasure. Help me, Father, fill me with the will to obey you, because at the moment I really want to indulge this sin. And fill me with the ability to obey you, help me to do and to live according to your good pleasure.” It is important to see the connection between the “P” and the “T,” for the Spirit always works by and with the Word in our hearts.
The next “A” stands for "act." We must put sin to death; God will not do it for us. We must pluck our right eyes or cut off right arms. To be sure, Repentance is an evangelical, saving grace – something God works through us by the gracious operations of His Holy Spirit. Yet when the rubber hits the road, our soul must embrace Christ, our feet must turn around, and our hands must drop the delightful distraction of our favorite sin. In the concurrent reality of sanctifying grace, it is as God works that I work, and it is as I work that God works.
The final “T” stands for the attitude of gratitude, which is so basic to the life of God in the soul of a man. Through this, we say, “To God be the glory; great things He has done.”