Thursday, July 2, 2009

How To Stop Sinning

Most Christians realize that they shouldn’t sin. So they try their best to live a good and moral life and not to live a life of sin. But as we will see from the bible, that way of living life is exhausting and ineffective and never brings true freedom from sin and its grip on our lives.

In a familiar scripture describing the problem we have with living a life free of sin, Paul said this, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out. For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.” (Rom. 7:18-19 Amplified Bible)

Man! What a problem. We have the power to want to do good but we do not have the power within ourselves (that is our own flesh and our own trying) to do so. So because of this problem, God made a spiritual way of life for us so that we can obtain his power to do good. And that way of life is called "living by faith." But like anything else, we have to know what it means and how it works for it to ever help us. Knowing what it means to "live by faith" and then doing it is what will make the difference between a life of struggling with sin or a life of freedom from it.

Now most Christians know that we can never live a good enough life to gain eternal life. They know that in order to attain eternal life we must accept Jesus as our savior. But what they don’t always know is how to live a life of righteousness after they have accepted the Lord. So they simply try and try to do so in their own strength, but like Paul said, that is impossible. The things we want to do we have no power to do. It is the things that we don't want to do that we will end up doing. What then is solution?

Paul later described the solution when he said, “This I say then, walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…” (Gal. 3:16)

"Walking in the spirit" is the solution and is simply another way of saying "living by faith." When we learn what that means and live that way, it will enable us to live a life free of sin. Like Paul said, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!

Let's explain this a little. The Christian “walk” is no different than how we became Christians. It is by FAITH and not by WORKS of our own. In salvation, there was nothing we could do ourselves to gain eternal life and in exactly the same way there is nothing we can do ourselves to live a righteous life even after we accept the Lord. The key to living a righteous life after we have accepted the Lord is to believe, not to do, just like we needed to believe to become “saved.” If we do that, it will then be what we choose to believe that will empower us to do.

The bible says that a man becomes what he thinks in his heart “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Pr. 23:7) It is what we believe and think in our hearts that we will become and what we will do. It will not be by trying harder that we can accomplish anything. Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Mt. 15:19) That is where all sin originates and that is where all righteous living originates. It is in the heart.

Paul said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom 12:1-2) What Paul is commanding here is for us to live free of sin and then he tells us how to do so. And it is NOT by trying harder that we are told to live a holy life. We are told that it is by renewing our mind. It is how we think and what we believe that will transform us and enable us to do those things that we are suppose to do. This is a fight of faith, not of works. It is an inner fight. It is about what we choose to think and to believe, not how hard we try to live right.

But what is it that we are supposed to believe? And how is it that believing will enable us to live a righteous life?

It's quite easy so let’s take one example from the bible to see how this works. The bible says that we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom. 8:37) Now in order to be and live like we are more than conquerors we must believe that we are more than conquerors, not try to be more than a conqueror. Trying to be more than a conqueror just won’t work. It is believing what the bible says about us that will transform us into the very thing that it says about us... "For as a man thinks in is heart, so is he." (Pr. 23:7) And in this case, it is believing that we are more than conquerors. This faith in God's word will then transform us into that which we believe... being more than a conqueror.

The key to this kind of faith is to believe what the bible says about us despite what we see in ourselves or think about ourselves. You see, when the bible says that we are more than conquerors, it is talking about the new inner spiritual man that was created within us when we accepted Christ as our savior. When we accepted Christ as our savior a real change took place. But that change was on the inside of us. Our spiritual man on the inside of us was changed into the very likeness of Jesus himself. (And Jesus is definitely more than a conqueror). It is in believing what the bible tells us about our new inner man that will bring that new man into our outer behavioral lives. It’s not a matter of trying harder. It is a matter of what we believe and how we think about ourselves. It is a fight of FAITH, not a fight of WORKS.

Our faith in God’s word will transform us and bring what is inside to the outside. Then and only then will we be able to easily live the life of Christ.

In the case of living free of sin, we must believe that we are already free of sin to be free of it. Ha! Think about it. The bible says that we are the “righteousness of God in him.” (2Cor. 5:21) If this is so, (and it is) we know that the righteousness of God never sins. So if we believe that we are the righteousness of God, the word of God will begin to transform us into that very thing making it easier and easier to live righteously and free of sin. Get it? It’s easy to understand, but it is an effort to begin thinking that way. In fact it will be a fight. It will be the "good fight of faith" that Paul commanded us to live. (1Tim. 6:12) And it is the only way to live free of any weaknesses or sin. Trying harder will only be a constant struggle with something we cannot do nor change and will NEVER transform us.

Probably we have all heard about the benefits of thinking positively and indeed it is very powerful, but when we think according to the Word of God it becomes supernatural power with the ability to literally transform our lives.

This does not mean that we should not "try" to live a good life. That would be ridiculous. We should always do what we can do. What it does mean however is that the real battle and the real victory (or loss) will take place within us, by how we think and what we believe. And it is this battle that we should always focus on. Thus we should always be developing our faith and transforming our lives by believing what the Word of God says about us rather than just trying and trying in our own strength to live up to its standards. Then, in time, living a good life will become more and more natural and more and more automatic. It will then be that the Word of God will be transforming us and empowering us to naturally do good works rather than trying in our own strength.

It always pays to remember the words of Jesus when he said, “It is the spirit that quickens (gives life); the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63 parentheshis mine) It is the word of God that has the power; it is not ourselves. And it is our faith in what the word of God says about us that will enable us to live a consistent life of righteousness... for it is "not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts." (Zech. 4:6)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

1 comment:

comporta said...

I really enjoyed this article!
For me there are only two things; Love and Truth. God is Love and lies within the heart of everyman and Truth are our actions before Him, whether we choose to admit them or not.
I believe it is time to go beyond words and fulfill our purpose through action.