All of us will affirm that sin remains in the lives of Christ-followers. Paul is clear on this as well: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). However, is this an excuse for us to allow sin to reign in our bodies (Romans 6:12)? Should this be our justification for continuing in a life of sin (Romans 6:1-4)? I feel that if we do such a thing, we are not only making a mockery out of the liberating sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I also feel that we may not truly understand grace and repentance. Repentance involves contrition (sorrow over sin) and this leads to a desire from God to refrain from sin. Living in the flesh gives no justification for gratifying the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:14). Sin is evident in our lives and this gives perfect reason as to why Jesus commanded us to pray for God to forgive us our trespasses (Matthew 6:12). However, this is no reason to allow it to overwhelm you. Romans 7:15-20 is not in the Bible for you to cut out and use when you are tempted and decide to gratify your sinful desires. Willingly giving in to sin is sin itself and is not worthy of the life that Jesus called us to live. We are to be the living-dead; alive to Christ and dead to sin. While sin is still in our mortal bodies, this reality still gives us no excuse to lay down arms when it attacks and fall for its deceptions. We are to fight! We are to wake each day and prepare for battle with our weapons and armor shined and polished for a difficult fight. This fight is fought daily and without Christ, we would be hopeless in this fight, slaves even (Romans 6:17). Only by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and trusting in Him can we fight (Romans 13:14).
In my reading this morning, I was inspired by John Piper’s 13 practical steps to kill sin. I pray that you receive an equivalent blessing from this excerpt taken from “A Godward Life”:
1. Take heart from the truth that the old sinful you is decisively already dead (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:3; Galatians 5:24). By faith we are united to Christ so that his death was our death (Romans 6:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14). This means three things: (a) The mortal blow to our “old man” has been struck; (b) the old self will not succeed in domination now; and (c) his final obliteration is certain.
2. Consciously reckon the old man dead; that is, believe the truth of Scripture about the old man’s death in Christ and seek to live in that freedom (Romans 6:11).
3. Cultivate enmity with sin! You don’t kill friends (Romans 8:13). You kill enemies. Ponder how sin killed your best Friend (Jesus), dishonors your Father, and aims to destroy you forever. Develop more hatred for sin.
4. Rebel against sin’s coup. Refuse to be bullied by its deceits and manipulations (Romans 6:12). Temptations to sin are all half-truths and half-lies at best. Paul calls their fruit “lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22).
5. Declare radical allegiance to the other side—God—and consciously put all your mind, heart, and body at his disposal for righteousness and purity (Romans 6:13).
6. Don’t make any plans that open the door for sin’s entry (Romans 13:14). Don’t prove your purity in a pornography shop or your commitment to simplicity at an upscale mall.
7. Know the spirit of the age and consciously resist conformity to it (Romans 12:2). As D.L. Moody said, “The ship belongs in the water of the world, but if the water gets in the ship, it sinks.”
8. Develop mental habits that continually renew the mind in God-centeredness (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:16). Fix attention daily on “the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5), “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). Let your mind dwell on “whatever is true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…gracious…excellent…worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
9. Admit failure and confess all known sin every day (1 John 1:9). Ask God for forgiveness (Matthew 6:12).
10. Ask for the Spirit’s help and power in all these things (Romans 8:13). All that is good in us is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). He causes us to walk as we should (Ezekiel 36:27; Isaiah 26:12).
11. Be part of a larger and smaller fellowship where you are exhorted often to beware of the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Perseverance in faith is a community project. We have no warrant to think we will make it to heaven if we neglect the appointed means of mutual encouragement and warning.
12. Fight your sinful impulses with all your might as a boxer fights an opponent and as a marathon runner fights fatigue (1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 4:8).
13. Beware of “works of law,” but let all your warfare be “the work of faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). That is, let your fight against sin spring from your confidence in the superior pleasures of all God promises to be for you in Christ.
May we fight sin daily by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ as our righteousness. Understand the gravity of your sin and how utterly deadly it actually is. Only then will you take refuge in Christ and from there begin to take up arms in daily hard-fought battles. And be certain, the war has already been won and Christ is our Victor. Sin will ultimately see its last day! So fight, and fight hard with faith. I close with the words of John Owen: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
By His Grace – For His Glory – For our Joy