How to Overcome Sin
by Steven Chan
Jesus came into this world to set us free from the enslavement of sin so that we can be freed to serve God and to look forward to the inheritance reserved in heaven for us (John 8:31-36; Rom 6:16-19; I Pet 1:3-5). That freedom from sin came when we knew the truth (John 8:32) and “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which (we) were delivered.”(Rom 6:17); when we “were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”(Rom 6:4-5).
Since we have obeyed the gospel and have been forgiven of our sins, set free from the condemnation of sin, the Bible says in Rom 6:12, 14: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts…For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
However, children of God still struggle against sin. One may still fall into sin after having been set free from sin. The Bible assures us that the if we continue to walk in the light of God’s Word and confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins (I John 1:6-10). In 1 John 2:1-2, the Bible tells us not to sin “and if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
How then may we overcome sin in our lives?
- Recognize that by God’s grace, our past sins are no longer a burden to us. The wages of sin, death is no longer a fear for those who put their trust in Jesus as He has conquered death and has given us the gift of eternal life (Heb 2:14-16). By God’s grace, His blood continues to cleanse us from all our sins (I John 1:6-10) as we repent and confess our sins to Him.
- We must make every effort to not allow sin to reign or have dominion over our lives. In other words, sin should no longer be permitted to control our lives as we have decided to serve our Lord, and not ourselves and our lusts. When the Bible says in Rom 6:12 to “not let sin reign”, it implies conscious and deliberate effort on our part, to reject sin in our daily lives.
- We can overcome sin in our daily lives by relying on God’s grace for help, strength and guidance to overcome temptations to sin.
a). We must understand how we can fall into sin: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”(James 1:14-16). In Rom 7:8, the apostle Paul explained that “sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.”
b). So we must watch out for our “desires”. Jesus said in Mark 4:19 that “the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” If we desire to be rich, we will “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”(1 Tim 6:9-10) In Luke 20:46-47, Jesus said that “the scribes (stood condemned because they), desire to walk in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.” In James 4:1 the source of our conflicts is our desire for pleasure: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”
c). We must make no provision to fulfil the lusts of the flesh. At baptism, when our old man of sin was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6), we have also “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). Having “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, (we) make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”(Rom 13:14). The apostle Peter wrote: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,”(1 Peter 2:11)
d). We must set our minds not on earthly things, but on spiritual things. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”(Col 3:1-4). “6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God”(Rom 8:6-7)
e). We must renew/transform our mind through meditating on God’s word. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”(Rom 12:2). Col 3:10: “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”( 2 Cor 3:18)
f). We must resist and not yield to temptation: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”(James 1:12) 1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. We look to Jesus who gave us His example when He endured the cross (Heb 12:1-2).
g). We must watch and pray and do our best to avoid being placed in a situation where we are likely to be tempted. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41). Jesus taught us to pray in Matt 6:13: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” We need to “abstain from all appearance of evil.”(1 Thess 5:22). We should avoid evil company: “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1 Cor 15:33). “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”(Psa 1:1-2)
h). When faced with temptation, we need to pray to God for a way of escape and also for grace to help to overcome it (I Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 12:9; Heb 2:18; 4:15-16). He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure.
- Let us look out for each other and be encouraged to stay faithful. Heb 3:13:”exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 10:24-25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Let us help each other overcome sin: Gal 6:1-2: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Let us learn to overcome sin in our lives and be found pleasing to Him.
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