Be Killing Your Sin, part 4
Here’s what we’ve seen over the past three weeks:
First, we saw the biblical command to put sin to death. God’s Word commands believers in Colossians 3:5 to “put to death what is earthly in you,” and in Romans 8:13, Paul tells us that if “by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” In the fight against sin, the Puritan John Owen said it like this: “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”
Second, we saw that this work is impossible apart from the Spirit of God in us. It is “by the Spirit” that we put sin to death, so this means there’s hope for us in the fight! We are weak, but He is strong! The truth is, the Spirit is at work in us to produce the fruit of righteousness, to destroy the root of sin, and to give us communion with Christ, reminding us that we were crucified with Him.
Last week, we saw that even though we do this by the Spirit, we still have work to do. Trusting in the Spirit’s enabling power in us, we are to put off sin and put on righteousness. These are commands to us from God; He gives us all we need for the fight, but we’re to do it.
With one more important thing to share next week, today’s encouragement is this: Persevere in the Fight.
A Constant Battle
The fight against sin is a constant battle. I know in my own life, and in the lives of many people who I have counseled at some point or another, there is often this feeling of “two steps forward, one step back.” We make headway, but then often find ourselves stumbling again into those sins that so easily entangle us.
God’s Word never promised us that the fight against sin would be a short fight with an easy victory. The implication in Scripture for us is that we’ll always be fighting sin as long as we’re in this life, because we’re always dealing with the enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
These enemies are deceptive. There are times when we think we’ve got them beat in a particular area of life, and so we let our guard down, and we begin to coast. After a season of fighting sin, we deserve to coast a little, right?
The problem comes with where that coasting, or drifting as Scripture calls it, takes us. The danger in drifting is that because of our fallen world, our sin nature, and the devil at war against us, we never drift towards righteousness. You never drift towards Christ, only away from him. That’s why the book of Hebrews warns us: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
Pay Close Attention to the Word
The only way to not drift away is to pay close attention to the Word of God. What does the Word of God tell us about our fight against sin?
- Recognize that your flesh is deceitful. “The heart is deceitful above all things,” the prophet Jeremiah warned us (Jeremiah 17:9), therefore we must suspect ourselves and be willing to inspect ourselves and recognize that even when we think we have a particular sin beat, we’re still prone to fall into it again. Therefore,
- Live with an attitude of humility. Paul said that he would boast of his weaknesses, so that the power of Christ would rest on him (2 Corinthians 12:9), and the same must be true of us. It takes acknowledging that we are weak in ourselves to stand in the strength of Christ.
- Flee from temptation. Because our heart is deceitful, we shouldn’t be willing to see how close we can get to the line of sin. Yes, the promise is that “a way of escape” will be provided in temptation, but in the very next verse God tells us: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:13–14). The way of escape is most often found in fleeing from the source of temptation, in not putting yourself in situations that you know will be tempting to you. This is not a one-time fleeing, but a life of seeking to avoid those things (idols) that would lead us away from Christ.
- Aim at Christlikeness. As you flee from idolatry or temptation, you’re to be running toward Christ. Hebrews 12:1–2 instructs us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus…” Jesus is your aim. You’re not aiming to be like a godly Sunday School teacher you once had, or measuring yourself by a Deacon in your church, but you are seeking to grow “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
- He’s given you all you need in the fight. This is a lifelong fight against sin and a lifelong pursuit of righteousness, but you need to know that God has given you all that you need. He has given you His Word to make known to you the path of life. He has given you His Spirit to be in you and with you, empowering you, producing His fruit in you, and guiding you along the way. And, what we’ll turn to next week, He has given us His people, the church, to walk with us through the highs and the lows, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.