Continued from Part 1
n the first part we discussed about the background to sin, sources of sin, inherited, imputed and personal. Also about sin classification; sin, transgression & iniquity. We discussed about the possibility of you having victory over sin and why you must avoid sin. We shall consider how to have victory over sin I this Part 2. Enjoy your soul food!
What are the ways out of sin control?
1. Repentance. What is repentance? Simply put, repentance is the act of repenting; sincere regret or remorse for actions taken. Turning to God in genuine repentance and faith will lead to salvation. Synonyms include: remorse, contrition, contriteness, penitence, regret, ruefulness, remorsefulness, shame, guilt. The clear cut way to ensure sin does not control you is to make a U-turn from sin. Not 360 degrees but 180 degrees. Change your dangerous path of sin by allowing Jesus to be your sin carrier. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."Rom 10:8-13.Repentance is not a one-time affair, it is continuous affair. Genuine Christians don't live in sin, but can fall into sin. If he falls in to sin, he should repent of that sin and continue. Peter was a disciple of Jesus, he denied Jesus, and repented and continued to serve God. Judas was a disciple of Jesus, he betrayed Jesus, and instead of repenting he committed suicide and ended his life. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". 1 John 1:9. That scripture is not a licence to continue to sin unchecked, uncontrolled, perpetually, No it is a way to help you stay on top of sin. We must come to Jesus with a sense of sorrow, recognizing that our sins have separated us from God, crying out to Him for mercy, relying totally on Christ's sacrifice, believing it is sufficient for our forgiveness. Continuous repentance will help you to overcome sin perpetually.
2. Clear understanding of our nature
Zac Poonen1 wrote online from Bangalore "One of the reasons why people keep falling into sin is, because they have not understood that their own flesh, their own human personality, and the human being that they are, their human strength - is totally impotent to do the will of God. We, in our own strength, can never, never, never overcome sin. Any amount of determination, any amount of self-discipline, anything you like you can do, but cannot overcome sin because sin is so deeply rooted in our nature. It's like trying to train a pig to be clean. What chance is there of success? Maybe by whipping and feeding and offering it rewards, you can try and get a pig to be clean for a little while but leave it alone for some time and it reverts back to its original nature; that's how it is. This type of overcoming through self-effort is not victory at all. It's just personal self-discipline, a good thing but not what God offers. Now, we need to recognize the weakness of our own flesh, our own weakness. And if you realize this, there will be two things that you will do: first of all, you'll run away from temptation, you will not expose yourself to danger. Who are the people who expose themselves to temptation? Those who don't feel their weakness. One who feels his weakness will run away. And that's what the Bible says we should do; flee from youthful lusts; flee from immorality. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2 that Paul told even a godly man like Timothy to flee from youthful lusts, to flee from the love of money, to flee from idolatry, to flee from immorality. We read all these exhortations in 1 Timothy 6, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Corinthians 10 and 2 Timothy 2. Flee, flee, flee, and flee, to run away...why do we run away? Because we realize we're weak. And we can overcome many sins if we just obey that exhortation to run away." Keep running from sin until you leave this world of sin that is how to overcome sin!
3. Constantly reading, studying and meditating on the Word.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Matt 22:29. Knowing what constitutes sin. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119: 11. You cannot control sin if you don't know what constitute sin. Paul said I cannot understand sin if there was no law. If there was not the word of God. So many scripture itemizes sins: Col 3. 1 Peter 3. Gal 5 even gives us extrapolated sin, when it says 'and such like of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.'
Got Questions website says: "The Word of God, the Bible, says that God has given us His Word to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It teaches us how to live and what to believe, it reveals to us when we have chosen wrong paths, it helps us get back on the right path, and it helps us to stay on that path. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful, able to penetrate to our hearts to root out and overcome the deepest sins of heart and attitude. The psalmist talks about its life-changing power in-depth in Psalm 119. Joshua was told that the key to success in overcoming his enemies was not to forget this resource but instead to meditate on it day and night and obey it. This he did, even when what God commanded did not make sense militarily, and this was the key to his victory in his battles for the Promised Land. The Bible is a resource that we too often treat lightly. We give token service to it by carrying our Bibles to church or reading a daily devotional or a chapter a day, but we fail to memorize it, meditate on it, or apply it to our lives; we fail to confess the sins it reveals or praise God for the gifts it reveals to us. When it comes to the Bible, we are often either anorexic or bulimic. We either take in just enough to keep us alive spiritually by eating from the Word (but never ingesting enough to be healthy, thriving Christians), or we come to feed often but never meditate on it long enough to get spiritual nutrition from it. It is important, if you have not made a habit of daily studying and memorizing God's Word that you begin to do so. Some find it helpful to use a journal. Make it a habit not to leave the Word until you have written down something you have gained from it. Some record prayers to God, asking Him to help them change in the areas that He has spoken to them about. The Bible is the tool the Spirit uses in our lives (Ephesians 6:17), an essential and major part of the armor that God gives us to fight our spiritual battles" (Ephesians 6:12-18). Friend if you genuinely want to overcome sin, you must read, study, meditate on the bible. Whether you read electronically on your tablets, or the hard copy just read it!
3. Depending on God through Prayer.
Another thing that a person who has recognized the weakness of his flesh will do is: he will pray to God earnestly, for help. You see, prayer is an acknowledgement of weakness and seeking God for help. When do people usually pray, even worldly people? When they're in real trouble, when nobody else can help them. And one of the things that Jesus taught us to pray is - lead us not into temptation. Why do we pray that prayer? Because we're convinced that our flesh is weak. One would think that someone like Timothy who had advanced in the Christian life so much, was not in danger of youthful lusts, but even he needed to run away. Now, if we realize our weakness, we will not only want to run away from temptation, but we will also pray, 'Lord, please help me. Give me strength to overcome this weakness.' Just like we need to see the seriousness of sin, we need to see the weakness of our flesh.
How important is prayer to overcoming sin in our lives? We have Christ's words to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before Peter's denial. As Jesus prays, Peter is sleeping. Jesus wakes him and says, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41). We, like Peter, want to do what is right but are not finding the strength. We need to follow God's admonition to keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking-and He will give us the strength that we need (Matthew 7:7). Prayer is not a magic formula. Prayer is simply acknowledging our own limitations and God's inexhaustible power and turning to Him for that strength to do what He wants us to do, not what we want to do (1 John 5:14-15).
Even Jesus prayed. He prayed all night before He chose His twelve apostles; He didn't want to make a mistake. Now these things indicate that Jesus received strength from the Father through prayer. And we don't receive it because we don't pray as much, or we don't pray as earnestly. We're told in Hebrews 5, that Jesus prayed with strong crying and tears. Imagine that, can you picture that in your mind? Of Jesus Christ, the perfect man who walked on this earth, praying with strong crying and tears? When was the last time you prayed with strong crying and tears that God should give you victory over sin. Don't you think you and I need to pray much more than Jesus needed to? He had lived in the presence of the Father from all eternity. He did not have a sinful nature like you and I have. And yet, He prayed. How much more we need to pray if we genuinely want to overcome sin? You say Pastor Dada I do pray! I agree with you. But my questions is what is the content of your prayers? There are three prayers we are thought to pray compulsory in our denomination Christ Apostolic Church, when starting our prayer in this order, Prayer of Thanksgiving, Prayer of Confession of sin, and prayer for the Holy Ghost. But our generation is too fashionable to pray prayers about confession of sin! I will be surprised if many people will read this article, because talking about sin is no more popular or fashionable. Many prayers are going nowhere because of our sins. It is an exercise in futility. Not with extreme teaching on grace. That says your sins past, present and future are forgiven and you don't need to confess them! Really? Shall we continue in sin and say the grace of God should continue, God forbid. Romans 6:1-2. Friend, prayer is a tool to overcome sin. Learn to pray.
4. Be prepared to suffer in the flesh.
I like what Zac Poonen said again about this issue on his web "In 1 Peter 4: 1 & 2, it says we must arm ourselves with a mind to suffer in the flesh, like Jesus suffered in the flesh; because if we suffer in the flesh, we cease from sin, it says. Now that's not a verse which is easy to understand. It's not talking about bodily suffering because people who suffer bodily don't finish with sin. We know that, otherwise the hospitals would be full of people who're finished with sin. So it's obviously not referring to bodily suffering. What does it mean when it says 'as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same mind' - 1 Peter 4: 1 & 2 - 'because he who suffers in the flesh ceases from sin so that he can do the will of God'? It's referring to an attitude of mind where we would suffer in self-denial, rather than get the least pleasure out of even a single sinful thought. When we're tempted, all of us, have the opportunity either to indulge in it and get some pleasure out of it, or to resist it and reject it, and that causes a certain suffering. That's the suffering that is mentioned here. And he says, before you are tempted, you must be armed for the conflict. In other words, you must be armed with this attitude of mind, which says, 'I'd rather suffer than enjoy the pleasure of sin even for a moment.' It says about Jesus, that He was obedient 'unto death', even unto death; which means, that Jesus' attitude was, and that He would rather die than sin. Now that is quite a radical attitude; I'd rather die than disobey my Father in the smallest little thing. That is the meaning of Philippians 2:8, He was obedient even unto death. He calls us to follow in His footsteps, to be willing to suffer rather than displease God. We must be prepared to suffer in in the flesh to enable us overcome sin. Learn from Moses Heb 11:24-27
5. Seek for spiritual Perfection
One more reason why many Christians do not progress spiritually, and fall, is because they're not seeking to press on to perfection; they are satisfied with the progress that they have made thus far - confession of their sin to become born again. The have forgotten the scripture that says 'work out your salvation with fear and trembling". And if you become satisfied with second standard, you'll never get to the third standard. That's for certain, because you feel you're better than all the others who are in the first standard and kindergarten. But if you are determined to press on, you would say, well, I've overcome something but I want to get something more. I want to press towards the mark - Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 , '…one thing I do, I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus' i.e. the goal of becoming like Jesus totally, in every part of our personality. What is the result of Paul having this attitude? It did not only prevent him from stagnating in the Christian life, it also kept him from sin. Paul told Timothy to not only flee from temptation, but also pursue after righteousness, godliness, love and gentleness. Jesus says ray that you are not led to temptation.
Any point in our Christian life where we get satisfied with our progress, is a danger point; that's the time we are going to fall into sin. And that is when we need to ask ourselves: am I progressing? Am I longing to become like Jesus in every area? Am I mourning every time I see something in my life that's un-Christ like? Do I cry out to God and say, 'Lord, I have faith'? Begin today, my friend, to mourn every time you see something un-Christ like in your life. Cry out to God for help, and see if your life doesn't change from this very day.
6. Relying on the power of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the main resource we can rely upon to overcome sin. Our effort to overcome sin can only be through the power of the Holy Spirit. God has given us the Holy Spirit so we can be victorious in Christian living. One of my favorite scripture is "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" John 16:7-8 Jesus is saying you cannot live the Christian life without the third person of the Trinity.
God contrasts the deeds of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16-25. In that passage we are called upon to walk in the Spirit. All believers already possess the Holy Spirit, but this passage tells us that we need to walk in the Spirit, yielding to His control. This means choosing to consistently follow the Holy Spirit's prompting in our lives rather than following the flesh. The difference the Holy Spirit can make is demonstrated in the life of Peter, who, before being filled with the Holy Spirit, denied Jesus three times-and this after he had said he would follow Christ to the death. After being filled with the Spirit, he spoke openly and strongly to the Jews at Pentecost. Friend in your journey to overcome sin, let The Holy Spirit be your partner.
Conclusion. The Christian life is not as complex as we think. Overcoming sin is not as complex; if we yield ourselves to the leading, direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. From this day purpose in your heart not to live in sin. Live under the influence of the Word- Sin shall no more have dominion over me!
Continued from Part 1