“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:18-21
Recently a sister wrote into to WeUsed2bu.com who was born again about a year ago. Her concern was that she did not feel like a new creation because she was still having a lot struggles with sin. She said that like Paul in Romans chapter seven, she wants to do right but can’t seem to. She keeps doing what she does not want to do. I am sure that we can all relate to what this sister is going through because all though we are saved we still battle the sin nature that lives in us. So I wanted to take some time and share what the Lord has laid on my heart about this. More importantly I want to share what His Word says about our struggle with sin and how to overcome it.
Let me begin by first addressing the first part of this sisters comment, “not feeling like a new creation”. She is referring to 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” I believe to get a better understanding of this verse we need to go back up a couple verses to 14 & 15.
“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
When we believe in Jesus we are born again in our spirit man, but our mind doesn’t automatically become new. We still have to go through a process of dying to our old life. We have to CHOOSE to no longer live for our own selfish desires and sinful nature. We have to CHOOSE instead to live for Christ Jesus who died for us.
“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you CHOOSE to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can CHOOSE to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey his teachings we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” (Romans 6:16-18)
We have a choice to submit to our sinful desires or to submit and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is in our obedience to the Word that we find freedom from our slavery to sin. It is our love for Him that moves us to give up our old life and selfish ways to follow Him and live a new life in Christ. I am reminded of when our Lord said to His disciples,
“If any of you wants to be My follower, you MUST turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
So how do we die to our old self when we are struggling with our sinful nature? The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. When Jesus left He did not leave us alone. He sent us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in us and is working in each of us, GIVING US THE DESIRE AND THE POWER TO DO WHAT PLEASES HIM. (Philippians 2:13) We are not left alone to fight sin and temptation. We CAN overcome temptations. The temptations in our lives are no different from what others experience. Our God is faithful. He will NOT allow the temptation to be more than we can stand. When we are tempted, He will show us a way out so that we can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13) We don’t have to be controlled by our sinful nature. We can be controlled by the Spirit. We have no obligation to do what our sinful nature urges us to do. We can by the power of the Holy Spirit put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. (Romans 8:9, 12-13)
As long as we live in these bodies here on this earth we will always battle sin and temptation. But Jesus died for us so that our sins would be forgiven and to free us from the power of sin.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
He freed us from the power of sin to live a life of rightouesness. He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. (1 Peter 2:24)
Here are some practical steps to overcoming sin and temptation in our lives.
#1) We MUST renew our minds with the Word of God – Look up specific scriptures that address your issue. Meditate on them day and night until they are engraved in your memory and rooted in your heart. Only then will you prosper and succeed in your efforts to overcome sin. (Joshua 1:8-9, Psalm 119:9-11)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. “ – Romans 12:1
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16
#2) RUN from anything (people, places, or things) that causes you temptation and call out to God for help immediately –
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faitfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” 2 Timothy 2:22
“So humble yourselves before God resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” James 4:7
“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” Jeremiah 29:13
“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
#3) Accountability – We are the body of Christ and each of us needs one another. We can not walk out our Christian journey alone. Find on fire for Christ brothers and sisters that you can trust with your struggle who will encourage and challenge you to not give up. Who will pray and intercede for you, who hold you up in this battle, and speak the truth of God’s Word into your life. Don’t stop going to church. You need to be around other believers. (Exodus 17:12-13)
“So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less diginty. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
“And let us not neglect out meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of the His return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25
#4) Fast, pray, and put on your armor – Some struggles are so intense that they can only be broken by prayer and fasting. Remember that we are not in a battle against flesh and blood but against evil rulers, spirits, demons, and imps who are determined to see us overcome by sin, temptation, and evil. Get militant and fight back in prayer. Go straight to the throne room.
“This High Priest of ours understands our weakness, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we WILL find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14:15-16
Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:1-18
#5) Be patient with your progress and don’t give up! – We are under construction. Our Lord started a good work in us when He saved us and renewed our spirit. He will continue to work on us daily until the day He comes back for us. Don’t lose hope when you mess up. Get back up and dust yourself off and keep pressing forward.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
“Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9