Struggling With Sin

Overcoming Sin NatureLast week we talked about our sin nature. We said it is a defect in character which prevents us from being consistently righteous. We said everybody has a sin nature – including Christians. So that means ALL Christians still struggle with sin – even after becoming believers. Let’s look at 1 John 1:8-10.

8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

In Chapter 6 of Romans Paul said that the power of the sin nature is broken when a person becomes a believer. He said believers have “died to sin” and they are no longer “slaves to sin”.

So, this raises a question. Why do Christians continue to sin in view of these changes?

Well, to answer that question, we need to review the meaning of the expressions — “died to sin” and “slaves to sin”. “Died to sin” means that the power or control of the sin nature has been broken, which is why Paul said the believer is no longer a “slave to sin”. OK, so what does that mean?

Well, before a person became a believer, the sin nature was in total, control. The person would do whatever the sin nature suggested – usually without any hesitation. Paul called that condition, “slavery to sin” (meaning slavery to the sin nature). However, when a person became a believer, Paul says God broke that control. However, God does not REMOVE the sin nature. It’s still there. So, the urge to sin is still present. That hasn’t changed, but the compulsion to sin has changed. The sin nature has lost its power.

To fully understand the implications of that — we need to know what else happens when a person becomes a believer. What happens is called regeneration – regeneration simply means being made new.

OK, so what’s new? Well, God gives the believer a new nature. He calls it a new heart, and this new heart gives the believer a desire to pursue God and His righteousness. At the same time God gives Christ’s righteousness to the new believer. So, the believer is now holy, unspotted and unblemished in God’s sight.

These are major changes, but they are spiritual changes only. God does not change the physical side of the believer, and that’s where the sin nature is located. Since the sin nature is still there, it continues to act as it always has.

However, this gives the believer a choice – which he didn’t have before. He can choose to follow his new nature or he can choose to still follow his sin nature. The sin nature still makes the same suggestions to sin – just as it did before, but the new nature makes suggestions for righteous living. So, the believer can which one he wants to follow. Sometime he chooses to follow his sin nature.

Paul did that occasionally. One of his biggest sins was pride. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about being taken into heaven where he received special revelations from God. This was a special privilege, and it could have made him proud. Apparently, he had a predisposition to pride. But God had a plan to deal with his pride. Let’s look at the story.

7 …….. so to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT

OK, so what does this all mean? It means that — as believers – we will still be tempted to sin. However, we can so “no” and decide to follow our new nature which wants us to be righteous.

However, we need power to do that. Fortunately, we have it through the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, at the point of temptation, we can say to the Holy Spirit, “Please help me follow my new nature”.

That’s it, you may ask? Yes, that’s it!!!!

See you next time….