Four Steps To Overcoming Sin and Temptation
By Thomas Taylor
How do we overcome sin? When tempted to give in to the flesh, how do we resist? Most people desire to do the right thing but find themselves doing the wrong. No matter how much we try in our own strength to resist sin and promise ourselves and/or God that we will not do it again, we always sin again. This article is going to give you four steps to help you not give in to sin. If you follow the instructions here, you will find yourself walking in purity and holiness.
I am not talking about being as holy and sinless in your actions as God. Your holiness is based on your knowledge of God’s Word. Because you don’t know all of God’s Word and God’s will you cannot do it all. You can only do those things you know to do. So don’t misunderstand me when I talk about overcoming sin and temptation; I’m talking about being as holy as you can be in your walk – not as holy as God is in your walk. Your faith to walk in holiness cannot extend beyond your knowledge of God’s Word.
Understand that you must be born-again before you can take the four steps to overcoming temptation. Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. Without the blood of Jesus Christ washing away your sins, you can never be free. Without the Holy Ghost living in you (by being born-again), it is impossible to overcome temptation.
Most people that go to church are well aware that it is wrong to sin. We hear from the preacher what our sins are and we feel conviction so that we may repent. However, one thing that I have never heard a preacher teach on is HOW to repent, how to turn away from sin. As a young man, I always agreed that it was bad and wrong to sin but I waited and waited for the end of the sermon expecting him to tell me how to stop sinning. But the sermon just ends with no instructions, only conviction and often self-condemnation. I used to get so frustrated because the preacher just makes it seem like all you have to do is just stop sinning. However, if anyone has ever tried to “just stop sinning” on their own, you find out that it is impossible and leads only to frustration. I do not believe that that is where God wants us. He wants us to be free from sin and He has shown us the way in the Word.
Jesus did more than take away the sins of our past, He taught us how to walk in holiness. He overcame all the power of sin. He never once sinned and He is our example. He is the way God intends for us to be because God said:
Lev 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
I do not believe God would tell us to do something that we could not do. I know He expects us to do this and so there must be a way. For God to tell us to do something that we cannot do would be unjust and our God is not unjust. God’s Word gives us clear instructions and that is where we will find our freedom!
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Spirit, Soul, and Body
We start by looking at who we are and what we are dealing with. You must understand that you are a spirit that has a soul and lives in a body . Without knowing this, you might think you have split-personalities because one moment you intend to do the right thing and the next moment you find yourself doing something terrible. Realize that you are just like everyone else, human.
1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse proves we are a three- part being. Many Christians just think we are a two-part being, spirit (which they call the soul) and body. However, we see clearly from this verse that the spirit and soul are two different things. The spirit-man is the real you that contacts the spirit realm. The soul is your mind, will, and emotions that contacts the mental or intellectual realm. The body is your covering that contacts the physical realm. When your body dies, your spirit and soul continue on to another place since they are no longer bound to the physical realm.
The Four Laws of Romans 7 and 8
Romans chapters 7 and 8 speak of four laws that will help us understand sin and the problems with overcoming it on our own. I encourage you to read Romans chapters 7 and 8 to fully understand the context of what Paul is talking about. It is a good idea to go back and mark each place a law is mentioned and notate whether it is law one, two, three, or four that Paul is speaking of so that you do not get mixed up.
LAW 1: The Law of Sin and Death
Rom 7:5 For when we were in the flesh , the motions of sins , which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Rom 7:14 but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin .
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
When we talk about the “law” of sin and death we are not referring to a written edict but rather a constant rule like gravity. The flesh has a constant never-ending pull toward sin; this is what Paul is talking about by the law of sin and death. It is evident from the above verses that the Law of Sin and Death originates from our flesh or bodies. This is the way it is and will always be. Your flesh will never stop lusting to sin and cannot be redeemed – at least not until the resurrection. To pray “God take away temptation” is to pray that God would kill you because not until your flesh is dead will you not be tempted again. The Bible says that the flesh is an enemy of God and that there is no way to fix the flesh. The only remedy to stop the flesh from lusting to sin is to destroy it. Notices that it is called the flesh “motions of sin”, “no good thing”, “evil”, “the law of sin”, “the body of this death”, “the law of sin” , and “the law of sin and death.” Simply put, your flesh lusts to sin and always will.
LAW 2: The Law of God
Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law , that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter .
Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law : for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Here the Law of God is called “the law” referring to the Law of Moses. It IS a written edict unlike Law 1. It is also called “the letter”, “the commandment”, and “the law of God”. The Law of God that Paul is referring to here is the written Law such as the Ten Commandments and all of the other Old Testament ordinances and commands. This is the Law of the Letter because it has no life in itself. It is written so that we will know we have transgressed God’s will and puts everyone on the same level playing field. No one can say that they did not know it was wrong to kill or steal because the Law clearly says not to do it. (For those nations that did not or do not have the written law, it is represented in their conscience or spirit-man which says it is wrong to do this or that.)
LAW 3: The Law of the Mind
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind , and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
The Law of the Mind is another law that is not a written edict but rather a constant urge or compulsion to do something. It is referring to the conscience which wants to do the right thing. Your conscience is the part of you that agrees with God and His written Law. It is the part of you most like Him in that it always desires to do right. So already we see the conflict; our flesh has a constant urge to do wrong and our conscience, the Law of the Mind, has a constant urge to do right. Your conscience wants to do right until it becomes corrupted by your sins and takes on a sin-nature. At which point it can no longer can be a perfect compass pointing to the “true North” of God’s will.
This is what Romans chapter 7 is all about. Paul recognizes this conflict between our flesh and our conscience before we are born-again. Our flesh has Law 1 always striving to sin. Our conscience has law 3 always trying to obey law 2, the Law of God. The problem lies in the fact that Law 1 will always win. We will always sin. There is no exception to the rule, every man has sinned, broken Law 2, and come short of the glory of God. Paul explains that he too battled and fought against his flesh but time after time he had given in to sin…except he found a new law! He found Law 4!
LAW 4: The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is what makes us overcome our flesh. Law 2, the written Commandments, is dead but Law 4 has the Spirit of God infusing us with the life of God so that we can walk in the newness of this life in Christ Jesus.
Notice that this Law 4 does not help me keep Law 2, the Letter of the Law. It goes far beyond that by putting us into a freedom from the Law that kills into the Law that abounds in life. Because Jesus fulfilled the written Law perfectly, as long as I am in Him I too have fulfilled the Law perfectly. Our righteousness is of Him; it has nothing to do with what we have or have not done. In God’s eyes we are just and in right-standing with Him because of the cross of Christ. Is that to say I am now free to do anything I want? Certainly not because that would not be abiding in Christ. We abide in Him by doing His will and obeying His Word. We are free from the dead letter of the Law but now we are bound to a higher law which is the Law of Love.
It is the Law of the Spirit of Life that holds a higher standard and which is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. It is to love each other as Jesus has loved us. We are even to love our enemies. Did Jesus come to change the written Law so that it would be easier to keep? No, by no means. He kept the written Law in place and fulfilled It. Then He told us to keep an even higher Law but He also showed us the way to do it.
Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
We have they Holy Spirit of God to help us fulfill the Royal Law of Love. If we walk in love, we will perfectly fulfill any other law. But we do not do this alone or in our strength, we do it with the very power of God by the Holy Ghost.
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