Nov 7, 2013
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.
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.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- How Can I Overcome Temptation?
- How Does The Holy Spirit Empower Obedience?
- Should I Wait For God To Change Me?
- Identity in Christ: Crucial, But Not Enough
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