How to Overcome Sin

(Before I begin, let me start with a footnote. This blogpost is for those who are truly Christians. If you are not a Christian, these truths still apply to you, but you need to repent from your life of sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ first. Here is a link to help you understand the importance of this act of faith.)

In the book of 1 John, the Apostle John is making a case for showing the difference between what a true Christian is and what is not. A true Christian obeys God, loves God’s truth, and loves God’s people. The one action in this list that is hardest is obeying God. John tells us, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). How can this be possible?! I still sin. So do you. Thankfully the verse God Hates Singoes on, “And if anyone does sin …”

The point is that after initial salvation, when God justifies and forgives our sin thereby freeing us from the penalty of sin (eternal Hell), we are still sinners. Yes, we are given the Holy Spirit who conforms us into the image of Christ. But our old nature, our built-in-at-conception sinful nature still lives within us. So what do we do with these sins? How can we overcome our sin? This the question I wish to answer from Scripture.

It doesn’t matter the size of your sin. You could be a regular lair or cheat. You could be an adulterer or a porn user. You could be lazy or gluttonous. Whatever your sin, God has a solution for you.

1) Practice the presence of God

Here is where theology meets practical application. God is Ominpresent. Omnipresence means God is everywhere present. Probably the most familiar verses that affirm this truth is Psalm 139:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You. (vv. 7-12)

             Basically King David is stating, God is inescapeable!! More than that, God is everywhere in the totality of His person.[1] Wherever God is He is there as Lord, Savior, Judge, Holy, etc. For you theology nerds out there, omnipresence means an ontological presence (God is personally present in all places), which displays the truth of His imminence, that is His nearness to mankind. To put it another way, in the words of my Bible college theology professor, “God is at the top-left corner of every room you step into.”

I used to think that when I would sin (lie, lust, etc.) that I had “gotten away with it” so long as no one saw me. However, after knowing God more through His Word, I have come to discover, I get away with NOTHING! God is always present. He is always right here and here and over here too. God actually declares this truth: “‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I hide-and-seekdo not see him?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the Lord’” (Jeremiah 23:24).

How does this help you overcome sin? The always-presence of God is not meant to scare us into obedience. Rather, it is meant to remind us that God is ever-present to bless obedience or hold back blessing in disobedience. Just like a good human father who gives good things to his children when they obey and bad consequences when they disobey, God will bless us when we obey Him and flee from sin.

Spurgeon: Among his children, they are best who best know their Father’s mind, and yield to it the gladdest obedience. Should we have any other ambition, within the walls of our Father’s house, than to be perfectly obedient children before him, and implicitly trustful towards him?
But, brethren, this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God. God often hides his face behind the clouds of dust which his children make by their self-will. If we transgress against him, we shall soon be in trouble; but a holy walk—the walk described by my text as faith working obedience—is heaven beneath the stars. God comes down to walk with men who obey. If they walk with him, he walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with his servants as they obey.
(from “The Obedience of Faith“)

 2) Study and Memorize Scripture

The Apostle Paul wrote a very familiar passage: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Note carefully that God’s Word has a purpose. We don’t just read it to get “warm fuzzies” for the day or check off a I-did-my-spiritual-tithe-today box. The purpose behind God giving us His Word was so that we could be “equipped for every good work.” If you are struggling with besetting sins that just seemingly won’t go away, I ask you: how is your Bible reading and study time? Are you in the Word of God to learn what God has to say, so that you “may be adequate, equipped for every good work?”

If you are, then are you memorizing it? Check out the blessings of memorizing Scripture:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” (Ps 119:9)Glasses on Open Bible

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” (Ps 119:11)

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.” (Ps 37:30-31)

God promises in the verses above that internalizing the Word is a believer’s best weapon to defend against encroaching sin. Are you in it? Are you memorizing it?

Next time, we’ll look at two more ways to overcome sin, but for now, these should help.

 

[1] A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, 279.