Maybe you’ve felt this way before. Maybe you feel this way right now.
Whatever sin you may wrestle with – pornography, alcohol, gossip, lust, nicotine, prescription drug abuse, materialism, laziness – you know chronic sin can leave you feeling helpless. Sometimes we identify with the internal struggle of Paul,
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:20, 23-24, ESV)
Paul of course wrote these words as a prelude to the escape from sin he found in the glorious redemption of Christ (Rom. 7:25). But even after obeying the Gospel (cf. Rom. 6:1-2), Paul still wrestled with sin. “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).
As long as you walk on this earth, your desires will be met with temptation.
Satan’s promise of a ‘quick pleasure fix’ will sometimes seem irresistible.
For the rest of your Christian life, much of your spiritual growth will consist of breaking down your addiction to sin. When Paul says Christians were “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), he is referring to the sins in our life that are so strong of a habit that they have become our nature. Overcoming this sinful nature will be the challenge of your lifetime!God’s grace is the reason you have accepted this challenge and have committed yourself to never giving up (cf. Titus 2:11-12).
You will be successful in your fight against sin if you understand the following:
1. Know everyone who comes to Christ comes to Him with sin.
We all wrestle with sin. No one is immune to its temptation and appeal. Everyone struggles with something; one person’s strength is another person’s weakness. The sins you struggle with will always be a challenge. Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to when referencing his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7).
2. Remember that sin takes time to overcome.
I’ve heard stories of people who quit smoking “cold turkey.” I’ve also heard of a man who once killed 3 polar bears with his bare hands. But let’s be realistic; most sins won’t be defeated this way (though you should try!). If fighting sin was not a war (cf. Gal. 5:17), it wouldn’t be sin. Some, not knowing this, lose the war because of discouragement.
3. Love God enough to take drastic measures.
Jesus is not being literal when he tells us to cut out our right eye or cut off our right hand in an effort to avoid sin (cf. Matt. 5:29-30). But what He is saying is that no measure is too drastic when it comes to avoiding sin. If you love God with all of your heart (cf. Mark 12:30), and if you fear eternity (cf. Matt. 10:28), what is too much for Christ to ask? Do you love Him enough to confess your sins to an accountability partner (cf. Jas. 5:16) to overcome your porn addiction? Do you love Him enough to join a 12-step program to overcome your drug addiction? Do you love Him enough to confess your sins to your family, or your church family?
4. Resist the despair that sin brings.
Why does it often seem like failure screams at us, while success only whispers? We tend to get so depressed over our sins that we ignore every success as a victory. Learn to take as much joy from each victory as you do disappointment in each defeat.
Additionally, genuine sorrow and repentance (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10) after each defeat is always a victory.
5. Fill in the void of sin.
Sin leaves us feeling dirty and empty. Additionally, the removal of sin leaves a void in our lives. This twofold sense of emptiness must be filled with Jesus Christ. Fill your life with good and wholesome thoughts, spend more time worshiping God and studying His Word, and engage in positive activities and serving others (Phil. 4:6-8; Matt. 12:43-45; Eph. 5:15-21). If you attempt to overcome chronic sin through brute force, without counter-balancing the void of sin, you will be defeated.
6. Recognize that the grace of God will cover a multitude of sins.
Does God’s grace cover sin that is continually committed? If you willingly commit sin, and are impenitent over sin, the answer is no (Rom. 6:1-2). Yet God has clearly taught us how He will handle repeated failure.
If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4)
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matt. 6:14)
When we repeatedly wrestle with sin, the real test is not with God’s grace, but in our willingness to genuinely repent of that sin (again). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). How amazing it is that God’s grace gives us the opportunity and the freedom to overcome the bondage of sin, despite repeated failure! How thrilling it is to be strengthened by God’s grace (cf.2 Cor. 12:9).
…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:31)
Article by Brother Ben
As with all our posts, please be guided of the Holy Spirit in all things. God will never lead you wrong and if ever in doubt about anything pertaining to your soul salvation, seek the Lord in prayer and wait on Him for an answer
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