In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he said that when Christ saved us that we died to sin. Well I’m saved and so are most of you reading this post, but I still sin, and bet so to most of you. So the question is if I died to sin why do I still sin?
If Paul said that we died to sin and we still sin then there must be something that we can do to stop it. It is a constant battle between our flesh and the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT2)16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
If there is a constant battle then there must be some way to win. Pastor Roger Barrier in his a post How to Win the Battle with Your Own Sin gives us 5 ways you can set yourself free from the bondage of sin. To read the entire post click or touch this LINK.
How to Win the Battle with Your Own Sin
Let me illustrate this for you by the story of Samson.
Judges 14:5-14 (NLT2) 5 As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah.6 At that moment the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it.7 When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her.8 Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass.9 He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.10 As his father was making final arrangements for the marriage, Samson threw a party at Timnah, as was the custom for elite young men.11 When the bride’s parents saw him, they selected thirty young men from the town to be his companions.12 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.13 But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.” “All right,” they agreed, “let’s hear your riddle.”14 So he said: “Out of the one who eats came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.” Three days later they were still trying to figure it out.
In essence the answer is that honey comes out of the dead lion’s carcass. When we are born again a new life springs forth (honey). Nothing can be done to fix or improve the old dead carcass (our sin nature).
At the moment of our conversion, new birth occurs and simultaneously our old sin nature is crucified with Jesus:
Galatians 2:20 (NLT2) 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So, why do I still sin?
Many wonder: “I expected that the new birth would make everything right in my life. I expected that by this inward change my evil nature would be transformed into a good and holy one. I still struggle with sin just as much as before. What is wrong with me?”
When we are born again, the Holy Spirit produces new life in us. We are “partakers of the divine nature”.
2 Peter 1:4 (NLT2) 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
Unfortunately, after conversion, many Christians endure endless pain trying to improve the dead lion – to morally disinfect the sin nature, to make it more bearable to a decent and religious society – but the dead lion is still a dead lion, no matter how we dress him up.
Romans 6:6-7 (NLT2) 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.
The misunderstanding is that we can do something to empower the victory. The old nature is dead. We look to Christ to grow and empower the new nature.
1. Remember that sin isn’t in charge of you.
Romans 6:7 (NLT2)7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.
In Romans 6-7 Paul isn’t saying that sin has been eradicated. We might say it this way: the old sin nature is deprived of its strength. It is deprived of its controlling influence. Paul defines exactly what he means in the next phrase, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. That’s the issue. The old nature is rendered inoperative as the sovereign of our lives.
The old sin nature does not lose its influence altogether, it loses its controlling influence, its sovereign influence, its mastery, its dominion. He’s not saying there won’t be sin; he is saying that sin isn’t in charge anymore. The tyranny of sin is broken.
Romans 6:15-18 (NLT2)15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
2. Stop struggling.
I was swimming at the gym, but couldn’t kick my legs properly. I had a leg injury. I struggled to get to the side of the pool. Suddenly, I was underwater and couldn’t stand up. I thrashed around as I fought to get to the side; but I went under and couldn’t find my way out. I panicked. I remembered thinking, “So this is how you drown...”
Then I remembered what a lifeguard does.
He waits until the victim stops struggling. Then he can get him back to shore. So I stopped swimming and started floating.
The same is true for us. We will never find victory over our sins until we learn that struggling means sinking. Then and only then will we look for deliverance in the Deliverer.
Romans 7:24-25 (NLT2)24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
3. Choose freedom.
God is not expecting us to improve man in the flesh, or looking for goodness in him of any kind. The dead lion is not our source of victory. Now that are our old sin nature has been crucified with Christ, we have the choice to choose to live the resurrected life of Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:6-7 (NLT2)6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.
Before salvation we were controlled and dominated by the old man, old nature, sin nature. We were slaves to sin.
Because the sin nature is crucified, we are now free to choose whether or not to sin.
Imagine you are a disarmed soldier captured by your enemy. A machine gun is aimed directly at your face.
That was our condition before Christ died for us. Our former self had the gun and we were the prisoner.
Now, imagine that out of the corner of our eye we see a soldier friend creep up and shoot our enemy. Our enemy falls dead. This is our present position in Christ. The old self is dead. We don’t have to serve him any longer. We have our lives to live again!
Why would we ever be so stupid as to prop up our enemy’s gun in his dead hands and obey whatever he tells us to do?
If a Christian sins, it is only because he/she wants to.
4. Position and condition.
Sanctification is God’s making us on earth what we already are in heaven. Our position is what God sees us to be as if we already were in heaven. Our position in Christ is perfect. Everything that belongs to Christ is ours! Everything that is true of Christ is true of us.
Ephesians 2:6 (NLT2)6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.
Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT2)9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Our condition is where we are in our Christian walk. Our condition has to do with the imperfect state of our Christian lives on earth. By the way, the smaller the gap between our position and condition, the more likely we are to look and behave like Jesus.
Let me demonstrate the difference between position and condition in the church life of the Corinthians.
Their position was wonderful. They were saved, sanctified, and holy.
1 Corinthians 1:2 (NLT2)2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
On the other hand, their condition was dastardly deficient.
1 Corinthians 1:11 (NLT2)11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters.
1 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT2)1 I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother.
As we dwell upon our position there will be a drastic change in our condition. The power that sin seems to have over us will be broken. Now we are free to enter into the resurrection life of Christ!
Colossians 3:1-5 (NLT2)1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
5. Live free.
Some will find it relatively easy to overcome their sinning. Others will find it takes quite a while to make basic changes. But, over time, our sinning should become less and less.
The country of England was taxing the American colonies mercilessly in the 1700s. Finally, the American colonies rose up against England and thus began the American Revolutionary war. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, which declared that the new United States was free from the power of England. But the war continued until 1783 when the British were beaten at the Battle of Yorktown.
Our declaration of independence from sin was signed in 32 AD at the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Now the battle for freedom begins
While the crucifixion of the old nature sets us free from having to sin, we must still make the choice not to.
Colossians 3:15 (NLT2)15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Colossians 3:12 (NLT2)12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Let me give you a scenario: A man is stopped at a stoplight when a gorgeous woman steps onto the crosswalk. Before Christ, his old nature didn’t help him at all. He fell right into lust. After Christ He can say, “I don’t have to do that anymore. I am dead to that. I can live by the Spirit.”
Instead of lusting, he can begin praying for her to have a life in Christ, for things to go well at work, for needs in her family.
Here’s another scenario: One woman has been hurt by another. She’s tempted to spread rumors about the one who hurt her. She’s going to get even. She’s bitter and angry. With the old nature alive, fighting back was the most natural thing in the world. But now with the old nature dead, she has a choice.
Instead of yielding to the old sin nature, she should follow Jesus’ advice and pray for her enemies, those who hurt her.
We don’t ever have to sin again. Let’s live in the power of Jesus’ new life in us.
Galatians 6:14 (NLT2)14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.