As I mentioned before, through Adam’s sin, sin entered the world. But God found a solution for our sin: When Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself all the sin of the world: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21; “He himself is the sacrifice that atones (literally at-one-ment; to make amends; to supply satisfaction) for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” 1 John 2:2.
Look up Col. 1:20-23 where Paul talks about how God has brought us into his own presence and we are holy and blameless as we stand before Him without a single fault. Also look up Colossians 2:14, Paul say that Christ by taking the punishment for our sin, He cancelled the debt that each of us owes God. He removed the debt against us that condemned us. He also reversed the curse of our old natures, which keeps us enslaved to sinful passions and desires. (Gal. 3:10,13)
How can I overcome my sin (including habitual sins)?
1. The 1st thing to consider in overcoming sin is to realize the transformation that takes place within us when we are saved. When a person is saved, a transformation takes place. In our case it has already taken place. Paul says now we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). From the moment we believe in Christ, we are in the process of sanctification (“sanctification” means a separation unto God, holiness (positional holiness in Christ; its practical, progressive). We are positionally holy (“set free from every sin” by the blood of Christ, Acts 13:39), we know that we still sin (1 John 1:10). God started the work of making us like Christ, and He is continuing it (Philippians 1:6).
Through the process of sanctification we are conformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Sanctification in this life will never be fully complete which means that believers will always struggle with remaining sin. Paul describes this battle with sin in Romans 7:15–25. Even though he desires to do what is good in the eyes of God, he often does what is evil instead. He does the evil he doesn’t want to do and fails to do the good that he wants to do. In this, he is describing every Christian’s struggle with sin.
James says we all sin in different ways, “For all of us make many mistakes” (James 3:2). Some sins are easier to overcome than others. Some struggle with anger, others with gossip, and others with lying, adultery, murder, abortion. Often times, we don’t even think about attitude, or tongue or hidden, dirty thoughts to be sin. The point is that each of us has a sin (or some sins) with which we struggle. We have habits that we developed during our lives as unbelievers and these require more grace and discipline to overcome. Be patient with God and with yourself as you work through these.
Paul says, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). When Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin,” he is telling us to remember that, in coming to Christ, the power of sin has been broken in our lives. We were at one time slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:17–18). At the cross the power of sin was broken, and, in becoming Christians, we are set free from sin’s rule over us. Now when we sin, it’s because we have willfully submitted ourselves to sin’s dominion (Galatians 5:1). Look up Gen. 4:7 where God is talking to Cain about his sacrifice because he didn’t do what is right, he didn’t give his best to God as his brother Abel did. So God tells Cain if he doesn’t do what is right, sin is crouching at the door (it lies there waiting for an opportunity) and it desires to have you but you must rule over it! God is telling us the same thing today. Watch your words, actions and attitudes, sin desires to have you and rule over you but you must master/rule over it because Christ has given you freedom from the dominion of sin! Embrace it and thank God for that freedom and walk in that freedom daily! Don’t submit (be subject) to sin but submit to Christ and His leadership!
2. The 2nd thing in overcoming sin is to recognize our inability to overcome sin and our need to rely on the power of God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. In Romans 7:25, Paul says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” We need the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul later says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). We overcome our sin as we submit ourselves to God and refuse the temptations of the flesh, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7–8). Sumbit, Greek word hupotasso. The hupo means “under” and the tasso means “to arrange.” full meaning is “to obey, put under, be subject to, submit oneself unto, put in subjection under or be under obedience or obedient to.” The word was used as a military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” It means to arrange oneself under the command of God rather than to live according to one’s old way of life based on a human way. It is a process surrendering our own will to our Father’s.
3. 3rd thing we need to do in overcoming sin is to change the habits that cause us to sin. We have to adopt the attitude of Joseph who, when tempted by Potiphar’s wife to come to bed with her, left the room so quickly that he left his cloak in her hands (Genesis 39:15). We simply must make every effort to run from the things that tempt us to sin, if it’s overeating that you struggle with, then don’t buy those foods, and if you are tempted to sexual sin,then stop watching anything or reading that leads you to it. Instead run as far as you can. If it’s gossip, lying and etc., then practice for 3weeks (21 days) living in truth, using your tongue to praise God, to uplift and encourage others. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29). That’s what God created our tongue for originally. Jesus tells us to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye if they “offend” us (Matthew 5:29–30). This means removing from our lives anything, even those things close to us, if they tempt us to sin. So we have to change the habits that lead to habitual sin.
4. 4th thing in overcoming sin is we need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word. If we think we are saved by grace, but sanctified by our own efforts, we fall into error (Galatians 3:1–3) just like the Galatians did. Sanctification is God’s work! When we think the sin/problem occurs because of our weakness (we are unable to stop the particular sin), it indicates our lack of understanding and lack of trust in God’s power/strength. When we do not understand His power to save, forgive, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness as it says in 1 John 1:9, we can get caught in a destructive cycle of sin, guilt, and fear, which leads to a lack of joy in our salvation, which leads to more sin. In Psalm 51:12, David pleads with God, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” He wrote this after he had fallen into the grievous sins of adultery and murder. It is interesting to notice that he asks God for a return of the joy of his salvation. Joy is key in our victory over sin. It is also important that we understand that God sustains us “with a willing spirit v12.” God takes joy in saving us. Our salvation does not depend on how much or how little we sin, how much or how little we evangelize or repent or do good works, how loving or unloving we are, or anything else about us. Our salvation is entirely dependent God’s grace, love, and purpose. It is His gift to us (Ephesians 2:8–9). This is important to understand. The joy of salvation comes from accepting the fact that God’s grace covers us, that He will change us and conform us to the image of Christ, and that it is His work, not ours (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:20-21-God is working in us what is well pleasing in His sight through Christ. Once we truly grasp this reality, sin loses its power.
Psalm 51:17, David writes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” What is a contrite heart? “A contrite heart is one in which the natural pride and self-sufficiency have been completely humbled by the consciousness of guilt.” The Hebrew and Greek words often translated “contrite” actually mean “crushed, crippled, or broken.” It’s a picture of a conscience that is crushed by the weight of its own guilt. Contrite heart stops justifying the wrong choices, and realizes the depth of the human depravity, and humbly accepts God’s righteous condemnation of sin. A contrite heart offers no excuses and shifts no blame. It fully agrees with God about how evil sin is. A contrite heart throws itself upon the mercy of God, knowing that it deserves nothing but righteous wrath (Isaiah 6:5; Psalm 41:4).
In Psalm 51:17, David is saying here that there is nothing we can offer God to appease God when we have sinned. No sacrifices. Instead God desires true repentance. Many of us miss this truth. Rather than repent, we try to “clean up our acts, give more, pray more, or keep ourselves busy in all kinds of religious activities hoping that God will finally get over being mad at us. God wants none of that. External religious activity cannot replace internal, heartfelt contrition/repentance (1 Samuel 16:7). One thing God desires more than anything else is our brokenness over our own sin. When we agree with God about how bad our sin is, we take the first step toward reconciliation with Him. Jesus illustrates what a contrite heart looks like in Luke 18:10–14. The humble repentance that God desires is contrasted with self-righteousness in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Look up Hebrews 10:10, 14 where the author reminds us that we’ve been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ and by one offering He has perfected/made perfect forever those of us who are being sanctified/made holy. As we understand the depth of these truths, we will serve our God in faith, in love and joy rather than out of fear or duty.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with Paul’s charge to the Corinthians: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58). Stand firm in the truths you know about your freedom in Christ and let Christ rule in your lives, instead of allowing sin to rule over you.
What is the key to victory when struggling with sin? Let me say it again, the key to victory in our struggles with sin lies not in ourselves, but in God, in His promises, in what He has done for us to free us from sin’s dominion through His Son’s death on the cross and His faithfulness to us: “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:18; see also Psalm 46:1) And always remember this truth, “God has delivered us and will continue to deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10). Amen!:)