How Can I Overcome Sin?
How can I overcome sin in my Christian life?
The Apostle Paul explains in Romans chapter 6 that those who have trusted in Christ have been set free from the power of sin (v. 7, 22). There are two ways in which we should understand this bold statement. First, by offering himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 Jn. 2:2), Christ has provided a way for us to be free from the guilt of sin that makes us liable to God’s judgment and condemnation. Christ has paid the penalty on our behalf, and all who trust in what he has done for us are considered righteous before God. This should be very reassuring to every believer. Our guilt before God is erased for good. Nothing, not even our sins, can remove us from his hand. There is no charge that can be brought against us because Christ presents his own righteousness to God on our behalf (Rom. 8:33-34) and God accounts to us Christ’s righteousness, not our sinfulness.
But Paul is also saying that we can be increasingly free from our tendency to sin in our everyday lives: “now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness” (v. 22). Many Christians believe this but they are perpetually discouraged because they don’t see any progress in the battle to overcome sin in their lives. One reason for this is that, while we accept that we must trust in what Christ has done to free us from the guilt of sin, we often attempt to overcome sin in our lives by our own efforts. This is the futile struggle that Paul describes in Romans chapter 7.
The fact is, we can never overcome sin through the “flesh” of our own efforts. No matter how hard we try to do good, evil will be right there with us (Rom. 7:21). But, praise God, our situation is not hopeless. Paul goes on to say that the righteousness we cannot achieve by depending on our own efforts is possible if we don’t live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:4). Once we were slaves of our sinful nature, now we must learn to be slaves of God, so that our lives are completely surrendered to his control, depending on his power, not our own, to form his righteousness in us. The first step toward overcoming sin, then, is not to try harder but to surrender ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that the righteousness of God, which is already fully formed in us through the presence of the Spirit, becomes the source from which we live rather than our own efforts. In the struggle with sin, our daily cry should not be “I promise I’ll do better next time.” Rather, it should be, “I need thee, oh I need thee, every hour I need thee!”
Pastor Jon EnrightSeptember 5, 2015