Admit it: you’re a sinner.
So am I. In fact, the Bible says that we’re all sinners.
That’s why we need Jesus. Because we can’t seem to get out of our own way when it comes to sin. We’re like the dog in Proverbs, repeatedly sticking our noses back into the putrid results of our half-digested attempts at finding nourishment in the garbage heap of our desires.
We need Jesus to beat sin for us, to show us that true nourishment comes from God, to clean up our mess so we quit going back to the same old stuff.
And he does that. But he asks us to put some effort in as well.
Contrary to the assumptions of some, becoming a Christian won’t automatically get rid of sin in your life. In fact, it makes you even more aware of your sin so that you begin to feel its effects even more keenly than before.
Becoming a Christian, however, does give you access to God’s power and God’s tools for fighting sin. The Bible doesn’t promise an easy road; it encourages us to join the battle, to fight against the all-too-pervasive presence of sin in our lives.
Here are some of the tools it reveals that Christians can use to overcome sin:
Read The Bible
At the risk of stating the obvious, you’ll never know what tools Home Depot offers if you don’t browse the website or walk into the store. Same with the Bible for Christians: if you don’t go to the Word of God, you won’t find the Wisdom of God for your fight against sin. More than that, the Bible itself IS one of the tools that God gives us. Look at what Psalm 119:9 says:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word.
The Bible, God’s Word, is like a sword put in the hands of a traveler: it’s protection for the journey! And, make no mistake, the Christian life is a journey. If you’re on it, you better be guarding yourself, using the Word to dispatch any creeping sin that confronts you.
Here are some key starting passages to read as you fight sin:
- Read Genesis 2-3
- Read Proverbs
- Read Psalm 1
- Read Psalms 38
- Read 2 Samuel 11-12
- Read Hebrews 6, 10
- Read Matthew 5-7
- Read Romans 5-6
- Read 1 John 1-2
- Read Revelation 20-22
One of the biggest mistakes I make in my Christian life is thinking that I can handle things on my own.
Not a chance. I fail every time.
I need God’s strength if I’m going to fight sin. Like Jesus’ disciples on the night he was betrayed, I need to pay attention to his words:
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41
So often, we Christians have spirits that are willing to fight sin, but we are weighed down by our fleshly desires. Jesus says don’t try to fight on your own strength: depend on God by admitting your weakness in prayer. We “watch” out for those things that tempt us to sin and “pray” for God’s intervention when we seHere are some ideas of what to pray for:
- Pray For Grace
- Pray For Strength
- Pray For Humility
- Pray For Peace
- Pray For Focus
- Pray For Others
- Pray For Wisdom
- Pray For Love
- Pray For Truth
- Pray For Joy
Meditate on Jesus
“Meditate” is one of those words that can have a wide range of possible meanings depending on someone’s background. When I use the word here, I am defining it as, “thinking deeply, clearly, and intently about something and its implications for one’s life”.
That’s a mouthful but, to put it another way, as Christians we are to focus our attention on Jesus and form our life’s off of his. Hebrews 3:1 urges us to,
…consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him…
Consider Jesus and the implications of his life for your own:
- Meditate On Jesus’ Deity
- Meditate On Jesus’ Birth
- Meditate On Jesus’ Promises
- Meditate On Jesus’ Teaching
- Meditate On Jesus’ Temptation
- Meditate On Jesus’ Miracles
- Meditate On Jesus’ Trial
- Meditate On Jesus’ Death
- Meditate On Jesus’ Resurrection
- Meditate On Jesus’ Return
Reading your Bible, praying, and meditating on Jesus are good, individual disciplines. But the Christian life isn’t designed to just be “Jesus, me, and a cup of tea”.
It’s meant to be lived out alongside other people who are following Jesus too.
That’s why there are so many “one another” commands in the New Testament: “love one another,” “serve one another,” and “forgive one another”. These all point to the fact that we’re expected to be accountable to other believers for how we are living as Christians, both in doing good works and in avoiding sin.
For that matter, even non-Christians can help us because we want to avoid sin that would make them think less of Jesus.
Generally speaking, other people provide accountability that helps us overcome sin.
- Get Accountability With A Church
- Get Accountability With A Pastor
- Get Accountability With A Small Group
- Get Accountability With A Christian Friend
- Get Accountability With A Non-Christian Friend
- Get Accountability With A Calendar
- Get Accountability With An App
- Get Accountability With A Dumb Phone
- Get Accountability With A Journal
- Get Accountability With A Budget
I think I missed this one earlier in my Christian life, but as I grow I am beginning to see that one of the best antidotes to sinning is serving. When I am serving others, I don’t have time to think about how to serve my sinful nature. When I’m focused on the needs of others, I don’t have the attention to devote to my own sinful desires.
That’s the goal of the gospel: that we would learn to love God and love others and deny ourselves.
Paul addresses this reality in Galatians 5:13:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Jesus Christ has freed us from our sin, not so that we can continue in it, but so that we can serve others. Here are some practical ways to serve that will help you get the focus off yourself:
- Serve In A Local Church
- Serve Your Neighbor
- Serve Your Family
- Serve Your Coworkers
- Serve Your Friends
- Serve Dinner At A Local Shelter
- Serve In Children’s Programs
- Serve On A Mission Trip
- Serve In A Prison Ministry
- Serve As A Hospital Volunteer
Overcoming sin is hard, but if God has redeemed you through his Son, Jesus Christ, he’s given you tools to help.
It’s up to you to pick them up and start using them.