This is post three of five in the series on killing sin. Refer back to Post 1 and Post 2. We have now gained a working definition of both sin and temptation. Now we will see what Scripture tells us of declaring war against sin. Note: this is not a practical “how-to” guide, but understanding what Scripture says it is to engage against sin. The “how-to” guide will come in the fifth post.
To kill sin, we must declare war. It will be a lifelong war with many daily battles. But know there is hope, for the war has been won in Christ.
We must not stop at crucifying the sin itself, but go all the way to the root, even to the desires (Galatians 5:24).
Christ has given us the greatest weapon of all, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). It is noteworthy that of all the Armor of God, the Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive piece. All other pieces are designed to take the blows of the enemy, but this is designed to fight back. Have you ever wondered why Jesus responded with Scripture, saying “It is written…”, in His temptation? By the Psalmist’s words, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, NIV). God’s word is designed to inflict wounds and overcome. It is designed to win the battle and win the war.
God’s Word is to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), yet, His Word is only a lamp to our feet and a light to our path as long as we heed it. The only way we heed it in our day is by opening it. As long as it remains closed, we walk in utter darkness. Why do we need his guidance?
Imagine you are walking down an unknown road, and come to a fork. Neither the left nor right is marked. Both lead to an unknown place. This is much like the dilemma of sin presented to both Cain (Genesis 4) and us. Sin carries a pleasurable alternative (Hebrews 11:25), but the other road carries other options. Which is more promising? Which is more reliable?
Consider Paul’s words,
“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, CSB).
First, temptation is normal for fallen humanity. It is not part of God’s original design, but part of fallen, broken, humanity. Don’t feel that you are alone in your temptations. It is normal to all of us. If you are struggling with it, it is likely that someone else is too.
Further, with temptation, also comes an avenue to continue in righteousness. The fork in the road presents two opportunities, one for sin and the other for righteousness. Yet, as we are not sure which road is sin and which is righteousness, we must remember that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.
But what do we do if we don’t have a Bible with us to open and turn to certain verses for strength? We heed David’s words, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11, NIV). So many view Scripture memory to be dry and mundane, while David tells us it preserves our very souls. For when sin is very alive, our souls are very dead.
Desire V. Ability
Even Paul struggled with sin. Imagine Paul, one of the greatest orators of his time. He penned letter after letter that are now in the canon of the New Testament. Yet, he was a sinner. He explained his sin in Romans 7. We are in the same boat as Paul as he says, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18a, CSB). We are all sinners, which is why we need a savior. Paul continues,
“For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do” (Romans 7:18b–19, CSB).
The contrasts of good and evil need no explanation. We can identify with Paul that we want to be good people, we want to do good things according to God’s Word, but too often we find ourselves doing more bad than good. Why is this? We are in sinful flesh! Until the day we are in heaven with Christ Jesus, we will continue to sin. The Christian life will not be marked by perfect sinlessness, but we will sin less. The ability is not in our flesh, but in Christ and the cross. Remember, He will provide an avenue of escape from the temptation for an act of righteousness. We must be aware of it and look for it!
Now that we understand what Scripture says and give us in the battle against sin, we will next look at how Christ and the church can help in the battle.