Dealing with recurring, or chronic, sin is simply an identity issue.
Conventional “church” wisdom says that although we are saved, we still sin and are therefore still sinners only saved by grace. But I do not believe that is what the Bible says. In fact, I believe that this line of human reasoning is a great insult to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ didn’t leave heaven, come to earth and perfectly uphold the highest standards of God’s righteous law, in the midst of unthinkable suffering, just so you and I could go around calling ourselves “sinners saved by grace,” while still remaining powerless over sin in our lives.
I believe that the key to stopping recurring/chronic sin in a believer’s life has to do with us coming into agreement with God about who it is that we actually are. I believe that our ability to walk a life free from sin is in equal proportion to the degree we understand our identity in Christ.
The Bible says that God gave His own Son in order to take our sin from us so that we could gain His righteousness. It also says that we are new creations and are perfect forever because of the work of our high priest, Jesus. (2 Cor 5:17, 21; Heb 10:14)
When we accept Christ, this transaction is complete. In other words, ALL (Past, Present and Future) of our sin is imputed to Christ and ALL of His righteousness is imputed to us forever.
1 John 4: 16-17 says: And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
The Bible also tells us that once in Christ, we are dead to sin and that sin is powerless over us. (Rom 6:11,14)
One of my favorite passages, also in Romans 6, says: “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:7-11.
When we go around calling ourselves sinners we are contradicting the Word of God. Why? Because according to Romans 6, we have died to sin and sin no longer has power over us.
My point in saying all of this in the context of overcoming sin is that believers need to stop letting earthly circumstances define truth. We need to start calling on truth from God’s word to force our circumstances into alignment with His Word. This quote provides some practical application for this:
“Stop talking to God about your problems. Start talking to your problems about your God.”
Your circumstance might be that you have an addiction, but if you are in Christ, the truth is that you are not an addict and that Jesus has overcome that addiction for you. Christ has redeemed you from addiction and every other ailment. The problem is that you either don’t know it or you don’t really believe it.
Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Notice the word “reckon” was used. That is a more powerful word in the Greek than it translates in most English versions of the Bible.. The word is logizomai, which literally means to calculate.
When we calculate something carefully and correctly, we determine there is only one possible solution to what has been calculated. 1+1 can only = 2, for example. In the above passage Paul is saying very strongly that when we believe in Jesus the only possible outcome is that we died to sin and became alive to God in Christ Jesus.
A pastor once said “Right believing leads to right living.” In the same way, I think that wrong believing leads to wrong living.
If we want to experience the freedom that we already have, we must start believing that sin is powerless over us and that we have been given a new, perfect and incorruptible Spirit (See “Spirit, Soul and Body” Post) . Yes, sin may still exist in and around our lives but we no longer are sinners. We are no longer defined by what we do but instead by what Jesus has already done for us.
We only put full trust into those whom we are convinced have our absolute best interest at heart.
As we uncover more about our new identity and what God really thinks about us, we will begin to reckon that He has our absolute best interest at heart and that He truly desires for us to experience the life Jesus brought us in abundance. The result will be a new found trust in Him and the outcome of that result will be an insatiable desire to walk according to His precepts. As we walk in obedience we will not walk in sin. It’s just not possible to do both at the same time.
But we won’t be free to walk in obedience and out of sin until we begin to believe who we are in Christ and that we can, in fact, approach the throne of Grace with boldness.
It is only when we discover our true identity, and only then, that we will experience clarity in our souls (mind, will and emotions) that God is absolutely for us and not against us.
So if we want to experience freedom from sin, we must stop trying to be transformed (escape sin and the pattern of your flesh) by trying. We have to stop trying to modify our behavior, stop making promises that we can’t keep and stop believing that we have the power to influence God’s favor towards us by our behavior.
Instead, we need to start believing and declaring that Jesus has taken care of our sin problem and has made us pure and perfect and that God is perfectly pleased with us because of Jesus.
Finally, Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 to “not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.” This is the key! Believing right is the key! In order to believe right you must have your mind renewed. Renew your mind by the washing (reading, hearing and meditating) of the Word. Every time we open up the Bible, we should ask the Holy Spirit to teach us about what we are reading. He is the Wise and Wonderful Counselor and His job is to teach us about who you really are!
When we discover who we really are in Christ, transformation will happen before our very eyes. To my conviction, learning who we are and learning to walk in that identity is the process of sanctification and is what will bring us power over sin, and into the measure and stature of the fullness of Christ.