“When we first start to live the Christian life, we confidently assume we will simply discover from the Bible what God wants us to do and start doing it.”
“But after a while, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we discover we are still experiencing defeat at the hands of our sinful natures. The victory seemingly promised us still eludes us.”
Can you relate to this?
I can think of many times that I have felt defeated, wondering why I felt powerless against my sin. Just today, I lost my temper with one of my children. I spoke harshly without even thinking. He definitely disobeyed, but he did not deserve to be the target of my sinful frustration. I was immediately convicted and even said out loud, “Why did I do that?” I asked his forgiveness and all was quickly forgotten on his side as he ran off to play. I was left wondering why this sin keeps coming up and why I keep doing what I don’t want to do.
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Gal 5:17, NIV)
So, now what?
Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are “dead to sin.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we will no longer sin after we trust in Jesus as our Savior. When we consider ourselves dead to sin we are no longer enslaved to our sinful nature. We have the ability and responsibility to say “no.”
Jesus lived without sin, making provision for our sin by taking the punishment that we deserved and he did not. We are now delivered from death and sin, but how does that help us deal with daily struggle against our sin?
“…when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (Rom 7:21)
I almost missed the second paragraph, but I don’t want you to! We can be amazingly thankful to God for two things. First, the desire for holiness continues despite our sin because of the Holy Spirit living in us. Second, God enables believers to see their sin. When we were still unbelievers, we were blinded to the sin in our lives. God allows us to see our sin so that we can see our need for him!
The rest of the chapter advises us of 3 things we must know and understand about sin in order to fight it successfully.
First, sin dwells in our hearts. Scripture tells us that our hearts are deceitful and cannot be trusted. (Jer. 17:9) But God knows our hearts and can be trusted. We should be daily asking God to search our hearts and reveal any hidden sin.
“As we pray to God to search our hearts, we must continually expose ourselves to the searching of his word.”
Second, sin works through our desires. (James 1:14) We need to be asking ourselves why we desire the things that we do. Bridges said, “We must make sure our desires are directed toward glorifying God.” Many times our desires arise from emptiness—a need to be filled. If we could recognize that the empty feeling as a signal that we need more of Jesus, I think we would be less likely to choose sin.
Thinking through my own situation from earlier today, I can see now that my desire was for power over my children. Why? Maybe because I feel powerless in my current situation? None of these were conscious thoughts at the time, but now that God has allowed me to recognize that need, I can look to Jesus to fill it. My desire for power can be redirected to desire the power of God to be made perfect in my weakness.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
Third, sin deceives our reasoning. We are drawn away from watchfulness, then from obedience, but it happens little by little as we compromise here and there.
Have you let down your guard or stopped being watchful, only to find that sin is knocking at your door again?
Because God is using this blog post (and the scripture in it) to deal with my heart today, I am reminded that I need to be watchful for sinful and selfish parenting tomorrow (one day at a time!). Sin wasn’t just knocking at my door—I let it walk right in and take over!
Tomorrow I will be reminding myself that I am no longer dead in my sin, that I have the ability and responsibility to say no to sin, that my heart is deceitful, that my desire should be for the glory of God, and that his grace is sufficient for me!
Please feel free to comment even if you haven’t read these chapters yet!