When we become followers of Christ, the first thing that we are told to do is to repent from our evil ways and come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Scripture actually tells us in Ezekiel 18:32 to “repent and live.” Repentance is such a beautiful thing in our relationship with Christ. It allows us to access our Father with clean hands and humble hearts. Seeing how dirty we are and repenting from our evil ways is the first step in moving towards intimacy with the Father.
But I also understand that we as believers all struggle with some sin to a certain degree. Whether it be a drinking problem that you know you should resolve or a sexual impurity that nobody else knows about, we all have sin that we need to repent from. I’m here to give you some good news. THE good news now that I think about it. Christ died on the cross for all sins. ALL sins. Yes, even the ones you are struggling with at this very moment.
In Galatians chapter 2, Paul tells us that we have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer us that live but Christ who lives in us. We are new creations. Our old selves were crucified with Christ on the cross and we have been named the righteousness of God. I know what you are thinking and trust me I get it. I have had to ask myself on numerous occasions what you are wanting to scream at me right now. If we are new creations and are called righteousness, why do we still struggle with sin?
This is such a good question. We all have had this thought or idea before. Some even have it right now. Why are we struggling with the things we are struggling with? Paul even emphatically contemplates this idea in his delimma in Romans 7:15-20. “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do.” We know the things that we should do because we have the law written on our hearts. But we do the things the flesh wants to do instead. I believe that we have been freed from all sin and can be free from our sinful nature. 1 John 2:1 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” We have been given all we need to walk a holy life like Jesus did.
We do however have a foe on the other side who’s job it is to kill, steal and destroy. He is the father of lies. He can’t take our salvation away from us but his ultimate goal is to keep us trapped in sin. He aims to increase our feelings of guilt and shame to prevent us from being truly blessed by the Lord and to prevent us from effectively sharing the Gospel to win the lost. There are so many lies that we face when it comes to our own personal sin, too many to count, but I want to share three with you. I believe overcoming these lies is a catalyst for tremendous breakthrough in our sin cycles. These are 3 that I have struggled with and I want to present them with grace and humility to you.
1. You have to overcome this sin alone.
The enemy wants to make you think that there is no one there to help you through your struggle. The feeling of embarrassment often keeps us from admitting our short comings to others because we dont want to be judged by our peers, even our close ones. The enemy also makes it a habit of convincing you that the sin problem isn’t really that big. He wants you to believe it’s something you can take care of on our own. Because we think it’s not really that big of a deal, we stay in the dark and continue to struggle in secret.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
It’s easy to get caught up in the lies that the enemy feeds you when you are the only one listening to them. It’s hard to be productive or get breakthrough in a one sided conversation because the same lies keep cycling around in your head. Those lies will be all you hear. Find community you trust and let them in on what’s going on. It’s freeing and there is so much power when we come in agreement with one another to overcome the enemy.
2. Overcoming sin is all about behavior modification
I love boundaries. We should always set them and stick to them. It makes so much sense for those who struggle with alchohol to not go to bars, for those that are trying to quit smoking to not go to the smoke yard at lunch and for those that don’t have a handle on lust to stay away from strip or dance clubs. Boundaries are so essential because they keep us from playing with the things that could literally destroy us.
As good as boundaries are though, overcoming sin is more than behavior modification. It takes more to overcome our sin than our own will power and determination to never do something again. Overcoming sin is about realizing that our sins have been covered by the blood of a man who came to eliminate our sin problems with sheer love. His love has set us free, not our ability to “do or not do.”
When we use the law as a measuring stick we will never measure up. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But when we account our righteousness on behalf of our faith in Jesus Christ, we know that what He did casts our sin into the sea and has made us as spotless lambs. Your sinful nature is gone! It was never about what you could or couldn’t do. It’s all about what He did.
3. Because you are tempted you are not free
This last one was big for me. I have always prayed for the desires of the Lord. I didn’t even want to be tempted by the sin that I struggled with. I wanted to be able to look at it in the face and not be phased one bit. So when I was faced with tempation I would beat myself up because I believed that I really wasn’t free. I believed that the Lord hadn’t delivered me from my sinful ways and that my heart was still dirty.
Jesus Christ is our advocate. He is our way out. When we think about His time on Earth we know that He was tempted in the wilderness by the enemy himself. But did Jesus have an impure heart? Definitely not. Did he sin? Not at all. Was He defeated because something tempting was presented to Him? No. So why do we beat ourselves up when we are tempted with something that we have claimed to be free from?
Our freedom is in Christ alone. Our freedom comes when we understand and lean on the fact that Jesus Christ is the only freedom that we need. If it were all about our ability to avoid and stay away from sin then we really didn’t need a savior at all in the first place. His blood is sufficient and it has covered us with righteousness. You may be tempted with something but it doesn’t mean you aren’t free. This is a lie the enemy tries to get you to believe to keep you in a defeated mindset. Don’t buy into it!
Yes, sin separates us from the Father and it is something we should be conscious about. We should always be aware of the Spirit revealing imputires in our hearts. But we have already won the battle. We have been given evrything we need to walk a life of holiness just as Jesus did. So IF you sin, and thats a big IF, there are things you may need to do to make sure you don’t fall again, but remember the price has been paid for! Sin isn’t in your nature anymore. Rebuke the enemy and he will flee. Call on Jesus and He will show you the way out.
Sin is real and we should always be aware when it creeps into our lives. We should never downplay it’s power and live loosely because our salvation has been bought. When we live in sin just because we know it is forgiven we live in cheap grace. It’s cheap because we fail to take into account the price that Jesus paid so we could be free. Repent and live. Turn from your evil ways and know the cross provides new life for you. You have been set free and no longer have to struggle alone. The only thing the enemy can do is entice you with lies. Soak yourself in truth about who God is, what He has done and who He has called you to be. Through Jesus our sin has been crucified forever!
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