Maybe we have realized we are sinners. We have grieved and confessed specific sins to God and to others. We have, by God's help, turned away from our sin and resolved to repent of it. Then what? We enter the fight of our lives. We fight to side with the Spirit of God and not with our old self. It's a fight of faith—to believe what's true, and be loyal to the Lord.
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Overcoming sin is a work of God (Matthew 1:21). When we believe in Jesus, he breaks sin’s power in our hearts (1 John 3:8). By his death and resurrection, the punishment we deserved is taken away and we’re given a new heart that can love and serve and know God.
One day when we reach eternity or Jesus’ returns, he will remove sin’s presence entirely from our hearts and our world.
Until then, we join God’s work in warring against sin (Philippians 2:12). By the help of his Spirit, we obey God rather than the sinful passions that used to drive us, and we engage our will in forsaking the habits and attitudes that used to rule us (Romans 6:12).
We do this not to just become better people, but because we have been redeemed from our old life and now love our Lord so much that we flee all that grieves him and desire to be increasingly like him (Ephesians 5:10; 4:30; 1 Peter 1:17-19).
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
ROMANS 7:24-25 NIV
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.
For the law
of the Spirit
has set you free in Christ
Jesus from the law of sin
In opposition… to all the suggestions of the devil, the sole, simple, and sufficient answer
is the Word of God.
This puts to flight all the powers of darkness.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word... I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
If Christ has
died for me,
I cannot trifle with
the evil that killed
my best friend.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
It is the holiness of heaven that drives out the filthiness of the world. It is the beauty of Christ that compels us to say no to what is broken and grotesque in the world. Paul says, if it’s beautiful, if it’s lovely if it’s right, if it’s good, if its pure, hang out there, stay there, dwell there (Philippians 4:8).
I want to flood my life—fill my life—with joy-bringing, Jesus-exalting beauty.
Being entertained by what God finds deplorable is probably a bad usage of 30 minutes to two to three hours. If I find myself entertained by rape and incest and horrific violence and sexual perversion, what does that say about where my mind and heart are? And is Jesus sitting there with me enjoying that?
Again, don’t read me wrong brothers and sisters, I’m not telling you to throw out your TV, although some of you should throw out your TV…
Don’t play with sin.
I used the illustration before, I’ll use it again.
There’s something broken in our minds, broken in our spirits, broken in our souls that leads us to believe that we are in control of sin in a way that is not biblically true. The way I’ll illustrate that is:
…So I’m watching this show and near the end of the show there’s this scene—they’re trying to shoot this commercial, and this commercial was going to be for shampoo or something and it’s this woman, you know this model, and they want her to lay on this male lion. And the lion attacks her and just rips her to shreds.
And then they’re interviewing the trainer and the guy is like, “Couldn’t see this coming!”
And I’m like, “It’s a LION; it has one purpose in all of creation—to kill stuff! It is an apex predator!”
But to hear this brother talk, he talked about raising it from when it was a baby, getting it when he could just hold it, taking it for walks, combing its mane.
And I just have to believe that many of us are playing with sin like this brother was playing with a lion: Oh I’ve got control of this. Oh man this is never going to turn on me. Man, for 15-20 years I have trained this sin to sit when I tell it to sit, to get in its bed when it’s time to get in bed... I would urge you brothers to not play with lions.
Eventually, in season at the right time, it will turn and it will devour. Therefore put on Christ and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14).
This excerpt is transcribed from a sermon by Matt Chandler that he gave at the Together For the Gospel conference in 2018. Watch the full sermon here.