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How Do I Overcome Sin in My Life?

An email I recieved:

“I have seen your website and read through some of the things on there. I have already prayed to receive Christ and feel God calling me to ministry. But right now I am really struggling with a particular sin in my life and I cannot seem to get victory from it in my life. It has caused me to have doubts of salvation and calling. How can I get victory over this sin? If you have any advice or answers that would be great.

Thank you.”

________________________________________

Dear brother in Christ,

I am not sure what the sin is or how particularly destructive it is in your life, but let me try to encourage you. I spent from the age of 20 through 23 praying nearly every night that God would get rid of destructive sins in my life (primarily fornication). I felt the calling at that time as well. God would just not seem to give me victory. Every time I would muster up the will to get rid of it, I would let all my friends know that it was over. Then, within just a couple of days or weeks, I would be back into it. And, to top it all off, when I got back into it, I seemed to become more depraved than I was before. It was so frustrating and disheartening. I even had to quit teaching a Bible study I began to teach, because I fell back into the sin three months after I started the Bible study. This was embarrassing and shameful. I often just wanted to give up trying because I felt God was not going to come to my rescue and give me deliverance. I would sometimes, with tears in my eyes, blame him for making me that way.

There are still sins in my life that I can’t seem to get rid of. I just prayed last night with the same zeal that God would change me. Sure, the sins are not evident and destructive like sleeping around, but they are, for some reason, just as disheartening. I often wonder why God does not answer sincere requests for things that are good. He is slow. Often, very slow. John Piper once said, “I don’t doubt God due to the problem of evil. When I doubt God it is due to the slowness of my sanctification.” I am glad he said that. It helps me a great deal. My sanctification is so slow. I mean, like, come on Lord. Just sanctify me completely and instantly once I ask. What gives? But he does not. Even the great Apostle Paul says that he did not do the things he wanted to do, but continually practiced the very things he hated. Read Roman 7:15-24. We will always struggle with sin this side of heaven.

So, in one sense I am saying, “Join the crowd.” However, there are things that cause me to have victory in my life more than others. The basic principle I try to live by (though it does not always work!), is that I have to quit dwelling on getting rid of the sin and focus my attention toward other things. Dwelling on getting rid of the sin can sometimes, ironically, give it greater control over your life. A wise pastor, a mentor of mine, once told me that there are two ways to get the air out of a glass bottle: 1) Try to suck it out or 2) fill it with something else. I think when we focus on our sin, it is like trying to suck the air out of a bottle. However, when we fill our lives with other things, we will look back after a while and see that the sin just naturally went away. I suppose that this is part of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are, we cannot sin (Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:18).

A few words of advice:

  1. If you have the opportunity, make a big change. This could be moving, getting a new job, or going on a long vacation. Sometimes our ruts have more power because they have become such a habit, which can be facilitated by our surroundings.
  2. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with the right people. This is not so they can ask you about your sin every day (as I said, this sometimes makes things worse), but so that you can be inspired by new examples. This could relate to #1, as you may have to get away from some bad examples.
  3. Don’t give yourself the opportunities to sin. Sometimes this comes in idle times. Being idle is the handmaiden of sin. Make sure you stay busy. If you don’t have a job, find ways to volunteer until you find one. Just make sure you are not sitting around staring at the wall. Stay busy.
  4. Run from those things that aggravate sin. Joseph ran from the wife of a man who wanted to sleep with him (Gen. 39:7). I don’t figure this was because he was so strong. It was probably because he knew he was so weak. Get rid of those things in your house or life that instigate this sin. Run from them. I had to run from my drinking buddies, whom I loved dearly, in order to even begin to recover. Some people need to get rid of friends too. Others need to get rid of cable, the Internet, clear out their food pantry, or quit their job. It may seem drastic, but it’s the whole “If your hand causes you to stumble . . .” stuff Jesus talked about (Matt. 5:30).
  5. If possible, get involved at a deeper level at your local church. It is harder to sin when people are relying on you to stay strong. When you are the only one you disappoint when you fall into sin, it will be very hard to remain consistent. After all, it is easy to get used to letting ourselves down. It is harder to let the Body of Christ down.
  6. Never give up. One person has once said that the Christian life is a life of new beginnings every morning. You may live with this sin for a long time. It may plague you the rest of your life. But never give up the battle. Never quit bringing it to the Lord. He may allow it to be a humbling weakness. I don’t know why he works the way he does, but I do know that giving up is not an option. If you have to pick yourself up off the ground and make a new beginning every morning for the rest of your life, join with me and do it!
  7. Finally, and most importantly, don’t quit accepting the grace and forgiveness of God. He forgives us an infinite amount of times (Matt. 18:22). I know how hard it get to accept God’s grace after the twenty-thousanth time I have fallen into the same sin. I know how you just want to say, “Just forget it. I am not asking for your grace again. I am too ashamed.” Don’t ever go there. God’s grace is enough to forgive you this time and the twenty-million times that follow. God’s grace is a radical, unbelievable, strange, and inexhaustible grace.

Remain encouraged, my friend. There are few people I know who are not in an ongoing battle with some sin. Those who say they are not . . .well . . . they are lying!

50 Responses to “How Do I Overcome Sin in My Life?”

  1. Can I suggest the book “Future Grace” by John Piper? It is very helpful with regards to fighting sin. There is also his free ebook, “Sanctification in the everyday” available at the Desiring God website.

    Both of these books are most helpful.

  2. If your child came to you with the same question – Dad, there’s something I just can’t seem to beat – but your child loved you, what would you do? Would you love them less because they were failing at something? Or would you love them more because they have a problem they can’t solve and they’re coming to you in their weakness?

    I can think of very little that drew me closer to my own son, than when he came to me with a failing. Yes, he’s awesome and yes there are a million other reasons to love him. But when he trusted ME with his failure, that spoke volumes.

    Jesus loves you. Love him back – it works for me. Don’t let your failures cause you to stop loving him. I like what CMP said about filling a glass jar with something else to remove the air. That’s a good word.

  3. At the risk of adding to a ‘to do’ list, I want to expound on something I think is key

    “The basic principle I try to live by (though it does not always work!), is that I have to quit dwelling on getting rid of the sin and focus my attention toward other things. Dwelling on getting rid of the sin can sometimes, ironically, give it greater control over your life.”

    Yes! But the filling up of other things should necessarily include that which gets us to focus on the Lord instead of ourselves. I’ve found that reading the word to learn about God rather than how do I conquer this sin has made a difference. I think our natural inclination for bible reading when we’re dealing with some persistent sin is to find verses that tell us how do I not do this (like the epistles). Well that’s kind of like focusing on the sin. Not that we should not read the epistles. But exclusively to deal with issues of sin can be myopic and defeating.

    Rather, go through the OT and ask questions about God and what he is doing with his call of Israel, the covenantal promises, the kings and prophets. How does that all fit with his grand scheme and what gets accomplished in Christ? Read the gospels and try to fit the pieces together from the OT. The more we learn about him and his plan for the ages, the more it should endear our affections towards him. This has tremendous value in lifting our eyes away from ourselves and our sin and placing them on the Lord.

    And if this young man is so inclined engage in systematic works regarding the attributes of God, the trinity, the work and person of Christ. Systematic study get be profoundly devotional since such study only amplifies who God is and what he has provided. And it puts our sin in perspective.

  4. Michael,
    I love this post. Thank you for writing it. I have a question about #1. Do you think that people in the church are too quick to consider moving? I am involved in a church with a body of believers who know and love me. Sometimes I wonder if Christians make too little of the local church family. I have many friends who move because they found a new job (even though they didn’t really need one) or were bored, or some other reason. Do we downplay the role of community, specifically community that knows us well when we encourage people to move?

  5. A good post, but you have left out an extremely important step, possibly the MOST important, and I fear it may be that you are not aware of its importance:

    You must confess your sin to God and to others. And this is not just a one-time deal. You must continually confess those sins to people you trust, who will pray for you. The sin that controls you is the sin kept secret. If you become a confess-aholic, as I recently heard one teacher call it, you will find significantly more healing.

    1 John 1:9, James 5:16, Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:3… many verses address the need to confess our sin to both God and other Christians. Confession has played a huge part in my path to God and away from sin.

    It’s easy to shy away from confession as something the Catholics do, or some tradition that has no power because so many people use it as a way of absolving their guilt rather than actually defeating sin, but it’s clear that God has defined confession as a necessary step to cleansing, so we must not try to do without it, as I did for most of my life.

    I hope this finds you well and helps you in your walk with God!

  6. #2, Mike O, that totally puts it into perspective.

    And MP, love your list. I really TOTALLY agree with getting away from immersing yourself in your sin 24/7. If it isn’t hard enough to escape, here we are being consumed by reading only scriptures that pertain to it. Confess, repent and ask for forgiveness and then step away for the next 24 hours. There are so many more things to God than just our sin.

    Right now I am reading Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur. They are bible stories and characters that we are all familiar with. But it is amazing how each one of us hears or sees something that another misses. It’s a new perspective in an old story. I’m not trying to trivialize sin. But it is not necessary to always study God’s word looking for condemnation. Look for those glorious lessons that you learned as a child but now have new eyes to see. It’s OK if you are a cancer survivor or suicide survivor or survivor of abuse and go to a group meeting. You just don’t have to live there 24/7.

  7. Matthew 17:20-22 – So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by PRAYER and FASTING.”

    1 Corinthians 7:5 – Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to FASTING and PRAYER; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

  8. This is a doctrine, i.e. sin in the life of the believer, that is well understood in the Reformed Theology! Noting especially the Pauline doctrine in Rom. 7:13-25, etc. WE all deal and live with it, if we are biblically honest! Positionally “sin” has been destroyed in the life of the believer, (Rom. 6), but of course practically sin still lives “in” the believer or Christian. Noting Col. 2:20 thru 3:1-5, etc. Some scholars even think that St. Paul’s “torn” in the flesh, was lust? But, whatever, it was perhaps more of Paul’s own pride and persona, that God allowed some attack toward or in/on, by way of his body? (2 Cor. 12: 7, etc.) Certainly more Job like!

    We simply must have a Biblical and Pauline anthropology, which again the later Augustine dealt with, as too St. Paul himself! (Gal. 4: 16-25, etc.) And again, here the Reformed by-in-large, are simply the most biblical, theological and real!

  9. Wonderful post.

  10. @Robert

    The sad fact is I have read some within the reformed faith who say that Paul is referring to his unregenerate self in Romans 7. Others say that part of Romans 7 refers to Paul in an unregenerate state and part of Romans 7 Paul is speaking as a Christian.

    But even the Reformed who do acknowledge Paul is referring to saved people (and himself) in Romans 7 completely dismiss Paul’s entire point of struggling with sin.

    How? In the TULIP, “perseverance” (as typically defined by many Reformed***) means that an “ongoing” or “persistent” or “continuance” in sin, as described in Romans 7, means that the person is not a “True child of God”.

    No “true Christian” continues in sin. (they never tell you how long this time period is). And that all “truly saved” individuals “can sin for a while, but will ultimately come back to God”.

    So, if you are a Christian who struggles with porn, or anger, or lying, or laziness for a long, sustained and continued period of time it shows you are not truly a born again child of God.

    Or, if you sin (they never define which sins you cannot commit at the end of your life and still be genuinely saved) to the day of your death (without repenting and being restored) then that proves you did not persevere, thereby proving you are not one of the elect.

    The eternal security part of the “P” in TULIP, is biblical. The requirement for all saved to persevere in good works to the end of their life and never indulge in carnal sins for an EXTENDED unrepentant period of time part of the “P” is unbiblical at best and a damnable heresy at worst.

    That type of thinking has caused more than one person to doubt their salvation and throws them into the bondage of sin even further.

    Doctrine DOES matter and correct doctrine, often leads to correct thinking, which usually leads to correct living.

    Preservation (eternal security) YES! Perseverance (***All elect WILL persevere in good works and avoid sin or they…

  11. @Robert
    The sad fact is I have read some within the reformed faith who say that Paul is referring to his unregenerate self in Romans 7. Others say that part of Romans 7 refers to Paul in an unregenerate state and partly as a Christian.

    But even the Reformed who do acknowledge Paul is referring to saved people (and himself) in Romans 7 completely dismiss Paul’s entire point of struggling with sin.

    How? In the TULIP, “perseverance” (as typically defined by many Reformed***) means that an “ongoing” or “persistent” or “continuance” in sin, as described in Romans 7, means that the person is not a “True child of God”.

    No “true Christian” continues in sin. (they never tell you how long this time period is). And that all “truly saved” individuals “can sin for a while, but will ultimately come back to God”.

    So, if you are a Christian who struggles with porn, or anger, or lying, or laziness for a long, sustained and continued period of time it shows you are not truly a born again child of God.

    Or, if you sin (they never define which sins you cannot commit at the end of your life and still be genuinely saved) to the day of your death (without repenting and being restored) then that proves you did not persevere, thereby proving you are not one of the elect.

    The eternal security part of the “P” is biblical. The requirement for all saved to persevere in good works to the end of their life and never indulge in carnal sins for an EXTENDED unrepentant period of time part of the “P” is unbiblical at best and a damnable heresy at worst.

    That type of thinking has caused more than one person to doubt their salvation and throws them into the bondage of sin even further.

    Doctrine DOES matter and correct doctrine often leads to correct thinking, which usually leads to correct living.

    Preservation (eternal security) YES! Perseverance (***All elect WILL persevere in good works and avoid sin or they prove they are not “truly elect”) NO!

  12. @Jeff: I am a Reformed Anglican myself, theologically, I would suggest the Irish Articles 1615. Though of course no Creed/creeds are infallible, only the Word of God, itself! But surely much of what you state is ad hoc, and too just bad and poor Reformed teaching! Sadly, there is plenty of that too!

    Btw, let me suggest and recommend David Steinmetz’s book: Calvin in Context, also see chapter 8..’Calvin and the Divided Self of Romans 7′, is simply one of the best I have read! The footnotes are broad, and include some of the older Roman Catholic, theolog’s, etc. A must read really!

  13. It cannot be done.

    We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.

    What’s even worse is that we don’t want to stop sinning. We will sin. We will to do it. Or we will to not do the good.

    Chuck all the ‘how-to’ books and cling to the cross.

  14. @Steve for #14:

    From a personal experiential standpoint, I can see what you’re saying, but…

    How do you reconcile your statements with Romans 6? Paul seemed to say if we are in Christ, we are now in bondage to righteousness instead of sin, and Christ set us FREE from the slavery of sin.

  15. GCD,

    I just skip over those verses myself.

  16. Rom. 6, That’s the “position” of the Christian believer, i.e. in the place of forensic righteousness and justification. Sanctification, also a place of both standing and state is the place of growth, and also our perseverance by grace thru faith. The latter is a our “state”, the former our standing, as ‘In Christ’.

  17. “So, if you are a Christian who struggles with porn, or anger, or lying, or laziness for a long, sustained and continued period of time it shows you are not truly a born again child of God.”

    I think the key word there is ‘struggle’. The one who is not regenerated would not struggle. Also, how long do we give folks to straighten it up? a month? a year? 5 years?

    I think Fr Robert is wise to bring out Romans 6. Paul says don’t offer the parts of your body to sin because if you do you become enslaved to that which you give yourself over to. That means the regenerate person can become enslaved to sin or else Paul would not have said that can happen.

  18. GCD @ #16,

    You’re right. Even though we still sin (throughout our entire life – Romans 7)…St. Paul tells us” to CONSIDER ourselves dead to sin.”

    “There is now no condemnation, because of what Christ Jesus has done.” (paraphrased)

  19. Yes. Romans 6.

    And how does God do this for us (take away the problem of ‘sin’ – not ‘sins’ )…in Baptism. Romans 6 says it all.

  20. @#21

    What baptism do you think Paul is referring to in Romans 6?

    Surely not water baptism

  21. @Robert #14

    You say that my comments are mostly “Ad Hoc”.

    To which “Ad Hoc” definition are you referring? (So i know whether or not to take offense or agree with you—LOL)

    1. An impromptu action plan that provides for a solution to Suit the needs of the task at hand

    2. Makeshift solutions

    3. For a particular purpose and no other.

    4. Formed, arranged, or done for a particular purpose only

    5. Shifting contexts to create new meanings

  22. That’s what Baptism is!

    ‘In almost every instance where Baptism is mentioned in the New Testament, it is speaking of water Baptism.’

    1Peter makes this clear. “Baptism now saves you”.

    Dis Jesus tell the disciples in Matthew 28, to go and “give the Holy Spirit to the whole world?”

    I didn’t think that we had that capability. But we can be baptized and baptize.

    I find it so odd that so many believers say that God is alive and lives in their hearts…but yet they deny that He could be present in a bowl of water accompanied by His Word of promise.

    Very odd.

  23. Yes, indeed, Baptism.. but Baptism is a sacramental sign & seal! It is our (the Body of Christ) Identification with Christ in death and life. Sin no longer has complete dominion, because in and with Christ we are dead to the Law. So sin no longer has dominion, because we are alive in Christ! And note, in Romans 7: 1-6, our Indentification with Christ in life and death. And finally to be ‘In Christ’, death to Sin cannot mean life in Sins! And thus identification with Christ in His death and “life”, there cannot be continuance in Sin (as a life style). Of course this is Romans 6! In Romans 7: 13-25, we see that the sin-nature still exists within the believer, and here we find our “sins” of the flesh, and old nature. Which the Law of God always is the manifestation, through the believers “conscience”, as we see “to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.” (verse 18, etc.) Only, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (verse 25) And here is the victory… Rom. 8:1-2, etc.

    This is quick, but simple!

  24. And yes, this is “water” Baptism, in Rom. 6!

  25. @Jeff: Mainly, to the use of the TULIP! The TULIP is but a general statement itself. So I guess, in some sense all 5! But perhaps especially 5. ;)

    Note, as Roger Nicole said, the TULIP is not really and acrostic, but if one were given, really all five points are really an articulation of the doctrine of grace:

    GRACE is:

    1. Obligatory (that is, indispensable)
    2. Sovereign (in choice)
    3. Particular (in redemption)
    4. Effectual (in operation)
    5. Lasting (that is, secure)

    Note, GOSPEL here! This is again of course Roger Nicole’s! :) (RIP)

  26. @#19 Lisa

    You wrote “I think the key word there is ‘struggle’. The one who is not regenerated would not struggle.”

    I know in my own experience of the “struggle” with all those sins BEFORE i was regenerated.

    I have never met anyone (teens/ adults) that did not “struggle” with those sins and more before they were saved.

    All the addition programs run by my church are filled with unregenerate people who are there for the sole reason that they are “struggling” with sins.

    IN fact the “struggle” often is a catalyst to make them face themselves and think, thus leading them to the Lord.

    BTW, my post (#13) was written from a Reformed perspective where they are the ones making the statements about persevering in good works to the end of their life, and NOT continuing in sin for EXTENDED periods of time or they prove they are not elect.

    I don’t believe the Bible teaches either one of those two aspects of the “P” in perseverance of the saints.

  27. I am reminded of a teaching by Mike Bullmore (that has stuck with me for several years and by God’s grace still appropriate) where he was discussing a biblical approach to our battle with sin. He made 3 key points. Make sure we quickly apply the Gospel (in its’ many facets) when we commit the sin. And then a two-pronged approach to what we can do prior to committing a sin (for patterns of sin) – we can both ‘starve’ sin out (i.e. recognize the temptation and be quick to take thoughts captive and think on these things…) And we can crowd sin out (for an excellent resource see Thomas Chalmers The Expulsive Power of a New Affection).

  28. These are good practical ideas to the aspect of sin in the life of the believer, but the sin nature of course cannot be effaced! Not at all a cop-out, but we will none of us conquer “ourselves”!

  29. Btw, let me share this link of EW Bullinger, one of my favorites on this subject . . .

    http://www.eyeoftheneedle.net/two_natures_in_the_child_of_god.htm

  30. Yep – agree ‘the sin nature of course cannot be effaced’ but would add – ‘this side of eternity’
    1John3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

  31. thank you michael this post was a real help to me

  32. Always a needed focus. Thanks for inviting the dialogue. We are told to “walk by the Spirit” if we desire to “not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The Spirit breaks the power/mastery of what the hymn writer called “cancelled sin.” Yet the conflict remains— “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other” (Galatians 5.16-17).

    In Galatians 5:15-16, there is an interesting connection between community relationships (at their worse) and walking by the Spirit as the solution. “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, (solution) walk by the Spirit, and you will not…”

    A direct connection is made in these verses between protecting relationships from destruction (bite, devour, destroy: metaphors from the animal kingdom) and the role of the Holy Spirit. To avoid destructive relationship, we must,

    v.16 –walk by the Spirit;
    v.18 – be led by the Spirit;
    v.25a –live by the Spirit;
    v. 25b –keep in step with the Spirit

    Galatians 5:16 says, “so I say”, (or ςέ “but I say”). Here is my advice.” Or, “Here is the remedy for the situation described in v. 15.” (Phillips). To protect Christian community (relationships) from destruction, to overcome sin, each member must “live or walk by the Spirit.”

  33. This was an amazing article because it is so true. I loved the fact that a big part of our walk with the lord, we seem to be overly focused on getting rid of ours in. YES, like you said, it is important. But when you laid the analogy of the empty bottle, it totally gave me an example of my life.

    I have been a believer for 5 years now and about 4 years I have struggled with pornography. In some cases, I still do but it not a concern really in my life anymore as nearly as much as it was before. About 4 of those years my mentaly was to kill this sin, and it felt nearly impossible and when I gave into it it just made it 10x worse.

    The solution I had found was just that! To fill it with other things. Fill it with Christ centered thoughts, fellowship, missions-ANYTHING that keeps me away from it and then it because a distant struggle.

    This article gave me a smile!

    In Him,

    Justin

  34. Dear Michael,

    A manager at my work gave me a book to read recently which recalls a man’s inner-struggles against Alcoholism. This man finds himself on a journey for help, eventually coming to grips with his addiction in a Buddhist monastery. And as I read the above advice, I’d say the book indirectly agrees with steps #1-6 (the fellow made a big change, got involved in an accountable community, didn’t allow for opportunities to sin further, ran from negative influencers, got involved at a deeper level in the Buddhist “church”, didn’t give up).

    Does Christianity really have so much in common with how other religions, like Buddhism, might fight temptation?

    I only bring this up to hopefully, if some have time, to discuss the matter in further detail.

    Gratefully,
    Ryan

  35. Hi Ryan,

    Just a brief thought on your comment about the similarity between Christianity and other religions on how to fight temptation. While there are some similarities, a distinctively Christian approach to fighting temptation must take seriously the Biblical injunction to walk by faith (e.g. Gal 2:20). This means that as Christians, we grasp the promises of God in Christ that assure us that he can offer something better than sin can offer us. There are many promises in the Bible that all target different areas of unbelief. Tackling this unbelief, this sin, requires believing God’s promises. And we must believe them, because every promise of God is “yes” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).

    This makes Christianity’s way of fighting sin unique. There are other ways in which it is different but this is just one.

    Andrew

  36. Here’s a battle plan for resisting temptation: memorize the following verses…the Word gives the victory along with the perspective that it’s not our victory…it’s His.

    (all in ESV)
    Romans 6:12 – Let not sin reign in your mortal body to make you obey it’s passions.

    How?
    Galations 5:16 – But I say, walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

    Why?
    2 Corinthians 5:15 – And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him, who for their sake died and was raised.

    How?
    Luke 9:23 – And He said to all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

    When we do that…
    Galations 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

    So we flee…
    2 Tim 2:22 – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

    But we don’t look back at what we’reI fleeing from…
    Philippians 3:13-14 – Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Instead we…
    Colossians 3:1-2
    If then, you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not things that are on earth.

    And when we fail…
    1 John 1:9, James 5:16, Psalm 32:5

    Because…
    Proverbs 28:13

    Then we distance ourselves from sin patterns by asking God to continue to purify and refine…
    Psalm 139:23-24; Philip 1:6

    The light cannot abide the dark, be full of the light.

    Lastly, daily abide…
    John 15

    Then the darkness is unappealing.
    Philip 3:8

  37. Nice piece, but humanly we all “look back”, its our fallen, broken, human nature to do so. But, looking back does not mean going back! But WE must know ourselves as complete sinners! Paul most certainly personifies the strife of the two natures, (Rom. 7: 13-25)… and this continues in the rengenerate Christian, but under Law especially.

  38. The fact that you have not acheived complete victory over some sin in your life should not make you think that you are not saved. Did you become saved because you quit sinning, or because you believed that Jesus died on the cross so that your sins could be forgiven?

    Of course, part of the problem is that you believe you are now a Christian and saved because of something you did, “Asked Jesus into your heart.” You are not. You are saved, justified, forgiven of all of your sins because of the grace of God which you receive by faith, which was not a work you did, but simply believed what God has said about your sins (that they are all forgiven). So the fact that you are struggling with some sin in your life is not proof that you are not saved. It is proof that you still need forgiveness, and that is a good thing, because only sinners can be forgiven.

    In fact, the fact that your sin grieves you is a good thing. If you thought you had overcome all sin in your life, you would be no less a sinner. You just wouldn’t be admitting that you are a sinner, which would make you just like the Pharisees, to whom Jesus said, “I came to save sinners, not the righteous (read self-righteous).”

    So I am not saying that you don’t need to fight and struggle against sin in your life, you do, but never believe that you have “won the fight.” You will not win that fight until the day your body dies, then you will quit sinning. Only open and manefest sins that would bring discredit upon the ministry like fornication, violent temper, gossiping, alcoholism, drug abuse, homosexuality, theft, and the like prevent you from going into the ministry. If perfect sinlessness were required, there would be no ministers.

  39. I have been in the Anglican ministry for many years now, and a Christian for over 40, and last time I checked, which was this morning in fact, I still see that strife of the two natures in me, thankfully the Old Man seems to be losing most the battles, but he still gets a few now and then! Indeed always Rom. 7:18-21, etc.

  40. Delwyn Xavier Campbell November 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

    The one thing I would say, regarding the initial list (and this might just be a quibble), your number 7 would be my number 1: “don’t quit accepting the grace and forgiveness of God!”
    As Luther said, we are “simultaneously saint and sinner.” It is by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, that we are empowered by the Spirit to resist the devil. It is His grace to the Church that provides us with the means of grace – the Word, and the sacraments of baptism and communion. It is His grace that has made us “accepted in the Beloved.” Without our faith in the Gospel, none of the other things on the list will matter; we would just be trying to cleanse ourselves “by works of righteousness which we have done.” It is the Gospel, not our efforts to achieve victory, which “is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.”
    In the words of an old song,
    “Hold to His hand, to God’s unchanging hand;
    Hold to His hand, to God’s unchanging hand!
    Build your hope on things eternal,
    Hold to God’s unchanging hand!”

  41. Calvin is worth quoting here…

    ‘It is in vain to teach righteousness by precept, until Christ bestow it by free imputation, and the regeneration of the Spirit.’

  42. hello my name is JD im really enjoying the discussion, because Im dealing with the sin of pornography including masturbation in my life as a christian believer…. Not as much as I used too but still every once, and a while, & it kills me to think I cant stop myself no matter how hard I try! Seems that way anyway…

    I love the Lord & my life has completely changed by the power of His Holy Spirit living inside of me & a few addictions have been broken But this sin of pornography/masturbation is still holding on & in my heart Im ashamed & don’t ever want to commit this sin again!…

    So are sexual sins apart of the sins that God is faithful & just to forgive if i confess them with a-sincere hearted apology & sincere desire to never do it again & a sincere acknowledgment that I have sinned against Him?

    I only ask because of scripture like Eph.5:1-7 & similar…

  43. scriptures pertaining to sexual immorality…

  44. @Fr. Robert (anglican),
    I think you are mixing up a couple of expressions mentioned in Romans chapters 6,7 and 8.
    You see in Romans 6,6 we read that our old man (old attitude of mind that wants to sin)is crucified. So in the life of a whole hearted disciple, the old man doesnt come off the cross every now and then, on the contrary, it stays there! It is nailed there by faith.-
    When Romans 7 talks about doing what i hate, it is not talking about works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19, as it is describing a man who serves the law of God with his mind (Romans 7v25).
    The sin you reference to in Romans 7:18-21 is a deed which the sin in your flesh has forced you to do as you were not mature enough, strong enough and spiritual enough to resist it- a deed of the body, (romans 8:13)
    How to eliminate deeds of the body? Put them to death by the Spirit.
    The more we continue in this the more the body of sin will be done away with.
    A lot could be written on this gloriously liberating topic.
    Greetings with 1 peter 4:1
    Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.

  45. Thank you so much Michael, let me assure you your post is still helping people (me for one!) I wish we could all be more honest about these things in our reformed churches, we always talk about ‘the free grace of God’ and how wretched we all are, but when it comes to specifics, everybody wants to clam up and pretend that nothing is wrong! I wish they realized how destructive that is to us!

  46. I am in a very discouraged and a disappointed situation wondering if there is any single soul like me who claims to be a Christian and still could not come of sins even after several years. I was just browsing and found out your post as if God has shown me. I am very encouraged and realized not to focus more on my sins but to engage myself in some other useful things. Thank you Brother and please uphold me in your prayers.

  47. i also did a sin i had an urge to buy luxurious things and to quenc my urge i use to do gambling and stealing i am trying to get rid of this thing but i am ot 100% getting rid from it

  48. First of all we should understand what the sin is.
    The Sin is a subjective emotional state / experience, that occurres as a result of completely wrong (from a subjective position) behavior, and is characterized by remorse, regret and other negative emotional states. It is worth noting that the evaluation of actions takes place on the basis of personal moral and ethical standards that are unique to each person. Standards, in turn, are formed by society that in its desire to preserve the stability and integrity often neglects personal needs of its members. As a consequence, most of what we call sins are in essence actions that do not meet the needs of society.
    You can find out more about it on http://www.indulgence.today

    The way to get rid of sins is much easier than you used to think.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Michael Patton>HOW DO I OVERCOME SIN IN MY LIFE? « Christian Reasons - November 14, 2012

    […] via http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2012/11/how-do-i-overcome-sin-in-my-life/ […]

  2. Destinations « Luggaged - November 14, 2012

    […] C Michael Patton offers sane direction about overcoming sin in our lives. Let’s face it, we need all the help we can get. Remain encouraged my friend. There are few people who I know who are not in an ongoing battle with some sin. Those who say are not . . .well . . . they are lying! […]

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