Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).
On The Road to Emmaus
Everyone Sins, even Us
People sin every day and every hour—even in their sleep. That's no news to anyone. However, it is startling to think that God's own children sin (1 John 1:8-9)—you would think that the presence of God's nature in them (1 John 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17) would prevent them from sinning. Yes, one would even think that the presence of God in them (John 14:17, 23) would make sin impossible in their lives. Nevertheless, Paul instructed God's children not to let sin reign in their bodies (Romans 6:12)—which implies that it is possible (though not desirable) for sin to reign in the bodies of God's children.
Therefore, because God's word warns us that sin can take over in our bodies and our lives, we need to understand how we can overcome sin and keep it under control. That's the purpose of this article—I want to share with you what I know about overcoming sin—and if you know something else, please feel free to share it with me and others in a comment.
Breaking Up with Sin
You Have a Real Choice
The first thing you need to know is that, although it is easy for us to sin, whether to enage in sin or whether not to enage in sin is—more often than not—a choice we make. God's word says "sin not" (Psalm 4:4, KJV). Why does He tell us not to sin? Obviously, because we have a choice.
God even tells us that He will adjust His plans for the righteous and against the wicked according to how they respond to His word (Ezekiel 33:13-16). Why would He tell us this? Obviously, because He wants us to know how He responds to us so we can make better choices.
The Bible also warns us against sinning wilfully (Hebrews 10:26). So then, you have a choice to make before God when it comes to sin: you can choose to live, or you can choose to die (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Yes, there are some forms of sin in which you find yourself even though you did not choose them—we cannot deny that. But, in most cases, you have a choice. To sin or not to sin? That is the real question.
Because we often have a say in whether we sin or not, we must make a real effort and use all the resources that God has given us to modify our behavior. Our wills are weak, but godly wisdom can help them.
Pluck Out and Cut Off
In Matthew 5:27-30, the Lord taught his contemporaries that, since God law was still in effect, they should do everything they could to avoid transgressing God's law—even plucking out their eye and cutting off their hand. Was he serious? Yes! He was very serious, but it is likely He didn't mean it literally.
Obviously, the Lord's instruction implies we should know God's word (the Bible), for God's word tells us what sin is, how to recognize it, and how to overcome it. For this reason, the Bible says: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee "(Psalm 119:11, KJV).
But the Lord's instruciton also implies that we should know ourselves, particularly our weaknesses, as the Bible also instructs us: "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil" (Proverbs 4:26-27, KJV).
- How well do you know the Bible?
- What sins are there in your life?
But the heart of the Lord's statement is that we should cut off our relationship with sin. If your eye causes you to commit adultery, pluck out your eye—because your eye is the reason you sin; if your hand causes you to commit adultery, cut off your hand—because the hand causes you to commit adultery.
In our modern day, this insturciton can be applied in different ways, for example:
- Give your spouse access to your bank account so they can see how you spend money;
- Browsing the internet only in the living room, where the rest of the family can see you;
- Not spending time with friends who like to drink in excess;
- Cancelling your subscription to cable TV;
- Staying away form bars, clubs, and massage parlors...
The point is that you should cut off from your life those things or habits that you use to sin.
- What is causing you to sin?
Replace Bad Habits with Godly Habits
The Bible teaches us that we should develop godly habits—habits that draw us closer to God. Why are these habits good? These habits are good because they keep us away from sin and they stir our hearts and minds in the right direction.
- David and Daniel, for example, prayer three times per day (Psalm 55:17, Daniel 6:10)
- Job used to make intercession for his children early in the mornings (Job 1:5), and David too used to pray in the mornings (Psalm 5:3).
- God instructed his people to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8), and Paul instructed believers to attend church regularly (Hebrews 10:25).
- God instructed his people to read the Bible and meditate on it continually (Joshua 1:8, Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
Look, Jesus didn't tell his disciples to pluck out their eyes and cut off their hands because that was the new fad—he told them to do that (and NOT LITERALLY) so they could embrace keeping God's law. In other words, cut off sinful habits and replace them with godly habits!
- Which of the godly habits above have you developed in your life? Which of these habits do you need to develop?
- What other sinful habits do you need to replace in your life? What godly habits could you replace them with?
Be a Hearer and a Doer
Now, what I have written in this first article is not all there is to know about overcoming sin. In my next article, I hope to share with you some other more spiritual—but all relevant and powerful—points on how to overcome sin. For now, remember to be a doer of the word, and not only a hearer (James 1:22).
© 2021 Marcelo Carcach