Dealing With Indwelling Sin
If becoming a Christian meant we no longer sinned, Paul would have been wasting ink when he wrote, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” It is possible to embrace a form of externalism that makes us look really good to people on the outside when really we know that what the Bible says is true: that while we are saved children of God, we are also sinners.
How is it, then, that sin continues to wreak havoc? It is because while we are indeed in Christ, who liberates us from the bondage of sin, we are also in our flesh. That’s the problem: we experience “the desires of the flesh that “are against the Spirit … for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17). We are justified in Christ; all of the guilt that attaches to our lives is dealt with in Jesus. We have died to sin in Christ so that it no longer has a tyrannical rule in our lives. But although sin no longer reigns, it still remains and rages. It no longer defines us, but it still clings to us.
We therefore need to learn not to underestimate the seriousness of sin; instead, we must watch out for its subtleties and insinuations. To fight against sin, we must come to understand its addictive and enslaving power. As the saying goes, “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.” Sin, then, must be attacked at the point of entry before it takes root within our hearts.
The only way to tackle sin is to recognize that we need to kill it, without compromise, so as to prevent all future damage, seen or unseen. We will only be able to overcome sin when we are motivated to take strong measures against it.
Yet we make a serious mistake if we think that we are the ones who can overcome sin’s indwelling power. Since Christ “is your life,” your battle against sin is not faced in your own strength but in God’s mighty power; and since Christ “is your life,” your battle against sin is not a battle for salvation, for He has already secured that for you. So now you need to commit to putting your sin to death, and you need to ask the Holy Spirit to overwhelm you with His wonderful love and fullness so as to create within you the desire to do that which God’s word calls you to do: to seek out, find, and kill off all that “is earthly in you.” As you read this list of earthly things which you are called to “put to death,” which are you being called to fight, in His strength, today?
21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Life in the Spirit
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.1 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you2 free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,3 he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus4 from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
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