Living By Faith Blog

Icon

Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How To Consider Yourself Dead To Sin

Thinking from Microsoft Publisher Clipart

Consider Yourself Dead To Sin

Let’s say you are tempted with a sin like jealousy.

Maybe your work associate got the promotion, or a nearby pastor is gaining more people, or your neighbor has a new lawn.

You can feel jealousy’s nasty tentacles closing in around your heart.

You know that Christ calls you to battle and overcome this sin.

But how?  What should you do?

What Paul Says

Here is what Paul says in Romans 6:11 —

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

But what does that mean?  In what way am I dead to sin?

Some say that since Christ died on the Cross, and I am trusting him, therefore I am dead to sin and sin has no power over me.

And they conclude that the way to battle sin is to believe it has no power over me.  And if I will just believe this strongly enough, then it WILL have no power over me.

But that can’t be what Paul means.

Put Sin To Death

The reason is because in Romans 8:13 Paul says we must put sin to death —

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

So it’s not as simple as just believing that sin is dead.  If I must still put sin to death, then there is a sense in which it is still alive.

Which means there is a sense in which my sin HAS BEEN put to death (Romans 6:11), and a sense in which is HAS NOT been put to death (Romans 8:13).

Already Dead — But Not Yet Dead

So how is sin ALREADY dead?  It’s already dead, because Christ’s death broke sin’s power for all who trust him.

That does not mean I don’t need to battle sin.  But it means Christ has done everything necessary so that I can, by the Spirit’s power, conquer every sin I face.

What has Christ already done?  He has —

  • paid for all of my guilt of my sin (1 Peter 2:24)
  • purchased for me the gift of the sin-conquering Spirit (Galatians 3:14)
  • granted all the faith and strength I need to conquer every sin (Jude 1:24-25)
  • guaranteed that I will persevere (not perfectly, but persistently) in faith to the end (Philippians 1:6)
  • secured my future sinlessness with him in heaven (Jude 1:24-25)

Because of what Christ has already done, I am assured that by the Spirit’s power, experienced through faith, I can conquer this sin.

And how is sin NOT YET dead?  It’s not yet dead in the sense that when it arises, I need to fight.  If I do nothing, it will not be put to death.  I must, by the Spirit and through faith, put it to death.

But because of what Christ has already done, I am assured that by the Spirit and through faith it can and will be put to death.

Encouraging

I find this approach deeply encouraging.

Because  in the past it never worked to fight sin just by believing that I was dead to sin.

No matter how much I believed I was dead to sin — I could still feel sin yanking at me, pulling at me, tugging at me.

Believing I was dead to sin did not overcome the power of sin.

It IS crucial to believe that Christ has already broken sin’s power, as Paul says in Romans 6:11.  But that’s NOT ENOUGH, as Paul says in Romans 8:13.

So here’s what I believe is a biblical approach —

Consider Yourself Dead To Sin

Whenever you face any temptation, start with Romans 6:11.  Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.

Believe that no matter how strong that temptation feels, Jesus broke its power on the Cross.

Believe that by the Spirit’s power, through faith, you can be dead to that sin.

Believe that Christ did everything you need in order to put that sin to death and be fully alive to God.

This is the crucial first step.  But there’s more —

Then Put Sin To Death

You are feeling the tentacles of jealousy wrapping around your heart.  You know Jesus broke the power of those tentacles.  You know he has done everything necessary for those tentacles to be killed.

But still, you must kill them, as Paul says in Romans 8:13.  So how do you do that?

By fighting the fight of faith until you once again see and feel Christ as your all-satisfying Treasure.

This must be the focus of the fight, because what powers every sin is the promise that something else will satisfy you more than Christ himself.

Take jealousy as an example.  Jealousy promises that the promotion, or more people in your church, or the new lawn will satisfy you more than Christ.

So the only way to overcome jealousy is to have the Spirit once again help you see and feel that Christ is your all-satisfying Treasure.  But this happens only by the power of the Spirit, as you look to Jesus Christ by faith.

So turn to Jesus Christ just as you are, confessing your jealousy, and trusting his forgiveness.

Then pray and ask for the work of the Spirit to satisfy you so fully with Christ’s glory that jealousy disappears.

And then, set your heart on verses describing Jesus’ glory.  Recently I’ve been using John 1:14; John 20:30-31; and Luke 13:11-13.

This will probably take time, with earnest prayer and passionate battle.

But when you look to Christ, fighting to see and feel his glory, the Spirit will so satisfy you with the glory of Christ that you don’t care about the promotion, more people, or a  new lawn.

Because you have Jesus Christ.

And you will be free from jealousy.

Comments?  Feedback?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

If you know someone this would help, email it to them using the “share” button below.  Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.

If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.

If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here.  (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)

And here are some related posts you might find helpful –

 

(Picture from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Tagged:

9 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Steve,

    I believe for me, my view of grace as a unmerited gift, something totally undeserved is what captures my heart, and strengthens me to resist sin.

    “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:14
    In my own strength I’m unable to even want to resist sin, but when I think about Christ’s mercy towards me it empowers me. Christ didn’t merely throw me a life saver, He jumped in the river and grabbed me and pulled me to safety, more than once.
    I’m under the power of grace, and it’s so much more freeing than the law, the law stirs up my indwelling sin, but grace totally subdues it!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I totally agree.

      So — did you share these as being in sync with what I wrote above, or to help clarify or correct what I wrote above?

      I was not sure — so thought I’d ask.

      And thanks for all your encouragement!

      Steve

      • Paul Walton says:

        Steve,
        I totally agree with your thoughts, my default as considering myself dead to sin is from the aspect of grace.

        “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16
        In other words “grace wins” grace is more powerful than sin, I think that is what we will be celebrating for eternity brother!

        We who have been chosen as vessels of His grace will declare for all eternity, of His mercy. It’s that “great” love that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the GREAT love with which he loved us,”

        Why settle for mud pies when we can have a holiday at the beach to quote ole Clive

  2. SPR says:

    Thanks Steve. Good verses to dwell on. While I may believe that seeing Christ as the ultimate all surpassing treasure is a good route to fight sin, possibly even the best, I confess – I rarely, if ever, consider this in the midst of sin. I believe my knowledge of His supreme glory is far greater than any experience of it that I’ve encountered. Hearing encounters of Henry,Pascal, Edwards, and Brainerd seems to only have added to my knowledge bank and done little to motivate me enough to deeper, long lasting pursuit of Him in drawing near to Him (even knowing that He has promised He will draw near to me when I do such first). Whether it’s because I’m not patient enough and want instant experiential feedback or have simply felt frustrated and let down from my perceived lack of response from Him that has lead to an almost delusional doubt that such experiences will ever be granted to me this side of heaven… I suspect it’s a combination.

    Please pray this doubt would be overcome by His grace! Whether it be by a relentless pursuit from me or a kind overwhelming gifting of His presence (I suspect it’d be both), just pray that I’d taste and see.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hello SPR,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate your honesty and candor.

      You are not alone in having a time where you are seeking but not finding. But God promises that you will find (Hosea 6:3; John 6:35; John 7:37-38).

      And I find it comforting that many psalms are written by people who were seeking and waiting but not yet finding (Psalm 42:1-2; Psalm 63:1-6; Psalm 13).

      Time spent with God’s Word open in front of us, praying for God to open our eyes, and fighting to see and feel the truth of God’s glory in Jesus Christ — this is always time well-spent.

      Every minute of delay on his part is a precious gift to humble, purify, and deepen our longings for him.

      Press on. And I will pray for you right now.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  3. Shawn Cox says:

    Thanks Steve for the post.

    Bowing down to Jesus and making him your LORD and not just your savior is the only way to die to sin. I watched an old Kathyrn Kuhlman video a few years ago and she kept saying” I died a thousand deaths”. To live in Christ or to be dead to sin you will have to die and die daily. Your will has to die. Your flesh has to die. When I am able to say no to sin, my old nature has died. When people get saved they need to “die” to their will, their way and their flesh and say yes to God and his will.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great to hear from you, Shawn.

      What you are saying is so true. We must, must, must die to sin.

      And I have found that the way to die to the attractions of sin is by fighting to experience the superior attractions of Jesus Christ.

      Or to use Jeremiah’s analogy — the way to die to broken cisterns that can hold no water is by turning back to the fountain and drinking (Jeremiah 2:12-13).

      Let’s keep fighting, brother!

      He is worth it all.

      Steve

  4. Sara says:

    Thank you. This is not taught in many of the churches today, unless it is taught as a means of being saved. I was caught up in the legalism of law abiding for years and it was awful. God in His great mercy rescued me, taught me about what true grace is and now is bringing me to an understanding of being dead to sin by faith. I have never heard that before. He must be opening my ears 🙂

  5. Steve: I read your fine article. Thank you for it. But I believe it leaves many questions unanswered. I believe that when Paul says we died to sin with Christ, he means that we died to the penalty of sin, not its power, unless we construe the power of sin as something that gains power over us by virtue of the law (6:14) which brings condemnation. We have been freed from this condemnation which then enables us to find the power of the Spirit to put sin to death as you mentioned in 8:13.

    I studied these concepts for many years and finally wrote them in a published book called Dead Men Rising:The Death of Sin||The Rise of Grace. Although it is not that well known, it has been hailed by many as one of the finest commentaries written on Romans 6. It is a detailed exegetical analysis of Romans 6:1-14 focusing on the phrases – dead to sin, old man, body of sin, crucified with Christ, and freed from sin. I would be very happy to send you a complimentary copy and its study guide if you would like. I would value your input on it. You can reach me at jonathan@wgsministries.org. You can also learn more about the book at http://www.deadmenrising.com.

    The Lord’s grace to you.

    Jonathan Williams
    http://www.WGSministries.org
    The Lord bless you in your ministry for his glory.

Leave a Reply

Join 2,375 people who receive each week’s posts by email

More Help for Your Faith

  • RSS Feed
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Feedback

"I just found your blog recently, and I've NEVER found such clarity, understanding and comfort before." (Sarah)

"AWESOME. Going to mangle this sin tonight with the Promises of God." (Alec)

"If I could subscribe to only one blog, yours would be it." (Lyn)

"I think you are really on to something with this blog. I don’t know of anything else like it." (Doug)

"Excellent comment. Really well put and wisdom that is strangely lacking in much evangelical thinking." (John)

"Thank you -- I needed to hear this. So clear and concise yet captivating." (Stacey)

"Such a helpful post. I’ve bookmarked it and reread it two or three mornings just this week." (Doug)