Dealing With Sin Nature

Overcoming Sin NatureIn Romans 6:14 Paul said,

“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”

The law that Paul is talking about is the law of Moses handed down by God on Mount Sanai. He is talking to believers, and he says they don’t have to live under the law today, because they have the freedom of God’s grace.

Paul explains what this means in Romans 7:4-5.

4 So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.
5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death.

I know this explanation might sound confusing – so let’s see if we can make some sense of it.

Paul says believers are freed from the “power of the law” – Why? — Because they “died with Christ”.

So, what is the “power of the law”? In verse 5 Paul tells us. He says “when we were controlled by our old sin nature, sinful desires were at work within us”. He said the law aroused these sinful desires, and they produced sinful deeds – which resulted in death. That’s “the power of the law”.

The law causes our sin nature to act. Our sin nature is a character defect that we all have. It becomes operative when we are faced with one of God’s commandments. For example, when the Law says “don’t get involved with sexual sin” the sin nature says, “sexual sin feels good, so I am going to do it anyway”. That’s pure rebellion, which is the definition of sin against God.

OK, so what does Paul mean when he says that believers have “died with Christ”?

Well, it simply means accepting Jesus death’ as payment for our sins. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all sin, and Paul says when we accept His payment –we have “died with Christ”.

Now, when we have “died with Christ”, God makes some significant changes in us. The first change God makes is breaking the control that our sin natures have over us. That means for the first time we can say “no” to the evil suggestions of our sin nature. The second change is a heart transplant. God puts a new heart in us that motivates us to follow Him. And the final change is the Holy Spirit. God sends the Holy Spirit to live in us and empower us so that we can make our “no” stick.

In verse 4 Paul says these changes unite us with Christ and give us what we need to live a victorious life. He says these changes allow us to pursue a harvest of good deeds for God.

Now, does this mean that believers will never sin again? No. Even though the power of the sin nature is broken, believers will still listen to it from time to time. It still makes the same evil suggestions that it did before we accepted Jesus’ payment for sin. And these suggestions are still very attractive, and sometimes believers will succumb to them.

However, we have to remember that all sins are paid for by Jesus – even the ones committed after salvation. So, when believers sin, they must immediately confess it to God. He promises to forgive and cleanse them. This is described in 1 John 1:8-9.

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.

So, this is how to live the Christian life. Let’s recap.

1. Don’t try to meet the righteous requirements of the Law on our own power.
2. Say “no” to the suggestions made by the sin nature.
3. Depend on the holy Spirit to provide the power to make the “no” stick.

That’s it!

Now I know there will be times when we won’t follow this procedure perfectly. Sometimes we will fall and commit sin. But, when we do, we must confess it to God immediately, and He will cleanse us – so we can keep going – until the next time. This will become a life long process. The good news is the frequency of sinning will decrease over time.

Ok, that’s it for now…. See you next time.

How To Deal With Sin

How To Deal With SinSome people think that they can sin as much as they want to, because God will forgive them. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue in Romans 6:1-2. He said,

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

Paul used the expression, “keep on sinning”. This refers to habitual and persistent sin. It’s the intentional, willful act of sinning. It’s an established pattern of life. This is not just occasional sinning — it’s unrestrained sinning – on a continuous basis. People who sin like this have little or no consideration of any moral implications.

In the same verse Paul answers his own question. He says, “Of course not!” And then he asks a rhetorical question – “Since we have “died to sin”, how can we continue to live in it?”

So, what does that mean? Well, people who have “died to sin” are Christians. They can’t continue to sin as they formerly did when they were unbelievers. The expression “died to sin” refers to several changes that God makes in Christians when they repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. First, He puts His life in them by giving them a new heart and new spirit. This makes them want to pursue righteousness. They lose their desire to pursue a life of persistent sin. God also gives them the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them.

In view of these changes Paul asks — how can believers continue to habitually and persistently sin?

Now this doesn’t mean believers stop sinning. They still do — but the difference is — they do not live perpetually in sin as they did before. Let’s look at 1 John 3:9.

“Those who have been born into God’s family (Christians) do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So, they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.”

John is saying the same thing as Paul. However, Paul uses the expression, “died to sin” to describe it..

Now, to better understand Paul’s argument — we have to understand the scope of salvation. Salvation consists of 3 components – justification, sanctification and glorification. These are different phases of salvation, and they flow together.

For example, when believers repent and accept Jesus’s payment for their sins, they are justified — God declares them righteous. And then God immediately begins sanctification – He starts developing Christ’s righteousness within them. So, justification and sanctification are interconnected — one flows to the next.

The process of sanctification is progressive. That means it continues over one’s lifetime. It’s completed on the day Jesus comes back to establish God’s eternal Kingdom. That’s when the third component of salvation called glorification becomes operative. Glorification occurs when all the work of sanctification is completed.

Alright, in view of this — let’s summarize Paul’s argument. His first point is Christians can’t continue to sin as they did before, because God has made substantial changes within them. Paul calls these changes, “dying to sin”. That gives Christians the ability to live a new life. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

OK, so how can Christians use this in dealing with sin? Well, Ephesians 4:21-24 tells us how.

21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him (this means accepting salvation).
22 Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

This is how Christians deal with their sinful natures after being saved. You see – the sinful nature still exists – God has not taken it away. The sinful nature still makes the same evil suggestions it did before the Christian was saved, and these suggestions are still attractive.

So, to resist them — the passage says, “throw off your old sinful nature”. But what does that mean? We can’t discard them, because they are still part of us.

So, what it means is to simply say, “no’ to what the sinful nature suggests. When we do that — we are drawing a line in the sand. We are saying “we are not going to let our sin nature control us anymore”. That’s what Paul means when he says, “throw off your old sinful nature”.

And then – and this is very critical — we ask the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. That will help us make our “no” stick. We are still the same weak persons we were before we were saved. God knows that — and that’s why He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us.

And finally, we put on our new nature which God has placed in us at the moment we were saved. Remember God put a new heart and new spirit within us — which makes us want to pursue righteousness.

Here’s a prayer we can use to help us each time we are faced with temptation.

Dear Holy Spirit. I am tempted to (tell Him what the temptation is). I have said “no” to the temptation. I do not want to sin. I ask you to renew my mind. Make this sin as hateful to me as it is to you. Give me the power to make my “no” stick. I want to follow the new nature that you’ve put in me. Please empower me to do all these things. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen

Well, that’s it for now. See you next time.