Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” ~ John Owen
Sin is out of vogue with Christians today. Nobody wants to hear that they are perverted, disturbed, and deceived at the deepest heart level (Jeremiah 17:9). Having a frank and serious discussion about sin is not a popular thing to do in many churches in America. I heard recently that one of the nation’s largest churches has been described as a “sin-free, guilt-free environment,” and for apparently good reason. Sin truly is ugly and it makes people uncomfortable. So pastors have stopped preaching about it and Christians have stopped thinking about it. After all, sin is only a problem if you bring it up, right? Tragically, ignoring sin and pretending it is not a problem is a dangerous mentality to adopt and will result in a tolerance and comfort with sin. It is so easy to overlook sin, become professional excuse makers and get tired of dealing with the same sins over and over again. But sin left alone will eventually destroy individuals and congregations (Galatians 5:7-9 and II Timothy 2:14-18).
This indifferent type of mentality towards sin is absolutely antithetical to the spirit of the New Testament. Colossians 3 uses the words “put to death” or “kill.” Romans 8 tells us that if we put to death the deeds of the body we will live. The Bible does not encourage one bit us negotiating with, passing over or ignoring sin. Rather, we are commanded to put it to death! The Biblical language is clear and violent. There is to be a zero tolerance policy concerning sin. No matter how minor or insignificant the sin, we must take it seriously—it is a matter of life and death spiritually. Sin is tenacious, powerful, controlling and devastating. Sin is not content as a guest in the throne room of your life. Sin takes no time-outs, lunch breaks, or sabbaticals. We must be killing sin, or it will be killing us.
Sin Is Underestimated
Often the best counsel given to people when fighting sin and temptation is to “Just say no!” “Don’t do what is wrong!” Remember the “just say not to drugs” campaign waged a number of years ago? As we wage war against the world, the flesh, and the devil our best strategy is often just a kind of fist-clenching, teeth-gritting act of our wills. What we fail to take into account is that often the reason we sin is simply because it feels good and is pleasurable (Heb. 11:25). But it is even more powerful. As a result, overcoming it simply as a matter of will or motivated by its consequences can only have a short-term effect. Our strategies of fighting sin reveal just how gravely we’ve underestimated it.
So What’s The Answer?
The only way to defeat the pleasure of sin is by faith in the promise of God that there is a greater pleasure. Something more satisfying, more joy-giving than sin. Open your eyes that Christ is the greatest treasure we could ever have. Counter and oppose the supposed pleasure of sin. Sin can promise but never delivers. Holiness will not come through man-made regulations or through using fear as a motivation, but through a mind captivated and controlled by Christ. Seeing Christ is what causes us to be like Him. When we see Him partially in this life, we are changed partially into His likeness. When we see Him perfectly in the life to come, we will be changed perfectly into His likeness.
If you’re seeking to put to death sin in your life, don’t look to yourself. Don’t look to your own strength, your own will-power, or your own resolve. Don’t think that remembering the horrible consequences of sin can ultimately keep you from it. Don’t trust that your own rules will keep you from sin.
Rather, run to Christ and throw yourself on his mercy. Learn to daily see and savor Christ as revealed in the Word. Believe that the very power that saved you, is the power that can strengthen you to live a pure, godly life that is full of joy and hope as you live for his kingdom. Then, in light of those glorious truths, “resist the devil” (James 4:7), “make every effort” to be holy (Heb. 12:4), “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11).
God is working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. He has begun a good work in you and He will complete it (Phil. 2:12-13). So look to the all-satisfying Jesus!
Don’t minimize sin or be indifferent towards it in your own life. Don’t give in. Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.