Christians are free from sin’s rule, but not from its attempts to regain control. The battle that exists inside all of us, between sin and the new nature, will continue until we get to Heaven. This fact, however, is not a bleak one. The Bible tells us that Jesus rendered sin powerless at the cross. Being in Christ, we are not obligated to submit to sin’s dictates and desires. We can, by the Holy Spirit, make the right choices and take the proper actions to keep sin from regaining control of our thoughts, actions, and words. Here are five practical ways we can do this:
1. LOOK TO CHRIST AND HIS CROSS
The scene of God’s holy, incarnate Son suffering and dying on the cross is a shocking and horrific one. He became our sin and satisfied God’s wrath in order to rescue and redeem us from sin’s rule over us. This motivates us to love God and hate sin and to choose pleasing God over disobeying Him.
2. MAINTAIN A CLEAR AND CORRECT VIEW OF GOD
In Genesis 39, Joseph refused to commit sexual sin on this basis: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) How we think about God impacts how we think about sin. Seeing God as being, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” causes us to admit, “Woe is me,” and to regard sin as “unclean” (Isaiah 6).
3. DEVOTE YOURSELF TO GOD’S WORD
This includes reading it. Thinking about it. Obeying it. Psalm 119:11 tells us this, “I have stored your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” God uses His word to wash us and to make us clean (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:25-27). This is His work in us called sanctification; He is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus. By immersing ourselves in God’s word, we experience its purifying effect and sin-overcoming power.
4. BE DILIGENT IN PRAYER
In Matthew 26:41 Jesus told His followers, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Prayer is our offensive weapon against sin. It is a devastating blow against it; for this reason, it’s so hard to do. Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” When it comes to prayer, we need to have a wartime mindset. We cannot afford to wait until we feel like praying before we pray; it has to happen consistently and continually. When temptations come, the first 10 seconds will generally determine the outcome. In this window of time, pray. In doing this, God provides the help and power we need to resist it.
5. CONFESS YOUR SINS TO GOD ON A REGULAR BASIS
Confession is the admission of our sins against God. In doing this, two things happen: First, God forgives us. This is affirmed in 1 John 1:9. Second, God renews in us a right attitude toward sin. In confessing our sins, we see the truth again that sin is evil, offensive, unclean, destructive, and full of hatred towards God. With this renewed understanding, we will reaffirm our love for God and refortify our defenses against sin.
In closing, I’d like to remind you of this message of the Gospel: Christ has set you free from sin’s rule. Daily live in this reality.
(For more on this subject, read Romans 6 and 8).