Sin either has power over you or it doesn’t.
There is freedom from sin. Why? Well, if that weren’t the case then why did Christ even die on the cross? May we sin so that grace may abound? It is a lie straight from the tongue of Satan that we cannot be free from the bonds of slavery to sin. If we believe that we cannot be freed from the bonds of sin, we live a cycle of a self-defeated lifestyle of guilt, shame, exasperation, confusion, and bondage to sin.
Sometimes bondage looks like there is no way out. This master of bondage makes it appear that we can have no other master. He makes it look impossible to move somewhere else. In our cycle of defeat, we give up thinking that there is no other way in exasperation. We end up confused and defeated. We think by being Christian we should be free from sin and have no problems. We have tried so many times to be rid of our sin, only to be defeated in the end. It begins to look like there is no possibility to be freed from sin. It looks like we might have to give up and accept that it will just have to be a part of our Christian lives.
Maybe Christ doesn’t want us to be free from it, but rather have it to be the ‘thorn in our side’ to keep us humble. Maybe our sin isn’t really even sin. Maybe there is some provision in Scripture to allow us to continue, or maybe Scripture is even outdated and not with our current times. Maybe our mindset won’t allow it, maybe our mindset about sin is even wrong. We were born this way, so how can we be free from something that we are born with? How can we overcome something that has been part of our nature from birth? Why keep fighting what we know to be true? Why keep fighting something that can’t ever be defeated in the first place? After-all, we’ve been trying for years and haven’t succeeded.
Our pastors, clergy, parents, friends, leadership, and just about everyone including ourselves can’t be free from sin…so how can we even think we have the chance? Our pastor is addicted to pornography and the priest was caught in sexual abuse. Church administration is pilfering money from under the noses of the congregation. If even our leadership can’t be free from sin, how can we the laypeople even have the chance?
I used to live this way. I saw no way out. I started to question what I knew was wrong because I found no way out. I started to think that maybe the sin that I couldn’t get rid of might not be wrong after-all. Maybe it wasn’t really the sin that it was. There were worse sins that I could be committing, and no one knew anyways. Even people who knew about the same sin thought ‘worse’ stuff was ok to do anyways, so what did I have to worry about? In any way I could I tried to rationalize whatever I did away, because it was easier to give into sin and have a good excuse to than to overcome it. Maybe at best I would just have to deal with it and live life anyways. Life has to go on right?
How do we stand a chance under the weight of all these questions? How do we stand the weight of sin? Defeat seems to be around every corner. If we can’t even look to our leadership to show us how to be freed from sin, how can we do it on our own? We have no example to show us what being free from sin is like. Or do we? Is our outlook on sin and our Christian walk really this dismal? Have we been deceived so thoroughly as to really live our lives as a result of these questions?
Satan wants to keep our hearts full of darkness. If that means pulling us down by the constant weight and futility of trying to be freed from sin, he will definitely do that. He lost a battle by us turning our lives to Christ. He wants to render us useless or worse by keeping us in bondage to sin. He is full of deceit and lies. Part of that is keeping us where we are always defeated at some point, mostly useless, and confused. We may keep trying and trying and trying, but what good is that? Where is our focus there? Our focus is on ourselves and on sin ultimately. Isn’t that the same focus of the non-believer? Mind you of course they give into their sin usually with not much fight and not much remorse, but the outcome is still the same – in sin and focused on ourselves in defeat, confusion, and misery. We know the life we should be living, but it seems impossible to attain that Christ-likeness that every pastor preaches about.
How can we defeat what brought humankind away from God on our own? Are we that prideful? Are we that ignorant? Do we even know how to fight sin? Do we even know that we can be free? With all the questions I posed above, how can we possibly think that we can fight this on our own and think to be free? What brought down our pastor will bring us down too, if we fight using the same means. Do we really have to stare defeat in the face, and give into its ugly face? Is this the life that Christ called us to?
Can I please, please respond to this LIE? NO!!! Can I say it more clearly? The answer is NO! I want to shout that! We AREN’T called to live of life of defeat in sin! The apostles weren’t slaves to sin, they were slaves to Christ! Are we any different? NO! We are human just like they were. They were fishermen, tax collectors, normal people. They couldn’t see their bondage to sin until a certain event. That event was Christ’s death on the cross. Their eyes were not only opened up to their sin, but also what Christ had been preaching His entire ministry. He is the Christ. He is God. If what He preached isn’t true (go and sin no more), then that means He isn’t God. It makes Him a liar. Satan is a liar. Do we really want to go to this level? Where is our passion? Where is our passion to get angry at the fact that Satan wants to make God look like the liar when Satan himself really is? We should be yelling and crying out in the streets because of the way that we have been deceived to think that God called us to something that we could never accomplish in our human lives.
If He called us to it, then surely we have the ability through His strength to do what He has said we could do. Jesus even said that we would do even greater things than He had done. Jesus died on the cross as a pure sacrificial lamb with no sin to reconcile us to Him through His death on the cross. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:10-11). Jesus broke the bonds of sin so that we may be free. It is no lie. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).
This is where it all centers – Christ’s death. Satan tries to do anything to nullify Christ’s death on the cross, either directly or indirectly. This is why Paul preaches Christ’s death on the cross as penance for our sins. Our entire Christian life centers on this. If Christ didn’t die and the dead aren’t raised, we might as well “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). Satan tries to deceive us into thinking that we cannot defeat sin. In doing that he nullifies Christ’s death on the cross that frees us from that same sin and allows us to take a new master.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Even then, if we are praying and seeking God, our focus still turns to ourselves. When our focus turns to ourself and away from God, we will inevitably fail. We are running on our own power instead of His. Even in praying, our focus can be on ourselves and the sin that we are trying to stay away from instead of the God that we are praying to. This is the extent that Satan tries to deceive us and stop us from serving and glorifying God. He knows what our possibilities are when we are serving Him as our Master instead of enslaved to the bonds of sin. He goes so far as to deceive us into thinking the act of praying and reading Scripture are enough. We think the act of it will magically do something, when in reality nothing will change until our hearts change and our actions change. We are the ones who choose to sin or not. God doesn’t make that choice for us nor does even Satan and his demons. You are the one that is in control of your body and mind. All Satan can do is whisper thoughts into your ear, because he can’t even read your thoughts. He wants you to think that he still has power over you, when in reality he has none. That power was completely stripped from him when Jesus died on the cross.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you have trouble feeling like God is still there, and you’re still messing up, know that He is there. He is omnipresent God and on top of that He lives in your heart. Even if you can’t ‘feel’ Him there around you, acknowledge that He is. You don’t have to feel Him to know that He is there. Live your life like you know He is there, whether you feel Him or not. When you mess up, you are the one that turns your back to Him. He doesn’t turn His back on you. You’re the one that sins, why should God turn His back on you in shame when He can’t sin? Rather He is waiting with open arms for you to return to Him. His grace and mercy abounds. He doesn’t expect immediate perfection. If He did, we would change in a twinkling of an eye into that state because we cannot do that on our own. Rather, He works with us and changes our hearts so that they are set on Him as master rather than our sin. It takes work and dedication. It is hard, sometimes to the point that we have to resist sin by shedding our blood.
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:3-4).
What is a real life example of that kind of resistance? We have them with Ghessan Thomas and his church, along with the rest of the persecuted church. They lose their homes, jobs, families, are tortured, and even sacrifice their lives for the cause of Christ. If they gave in and defamed the name of Christ spitting in His face, is that not sin? Yet they do not give in. Would you rather face death than commit the sin you’re about to do for the sake of Christ?
I speak to you from experience as one of the many that have experienced freedom from sin. While it is great to not have guilt and shame hanging over my head that I have to address before talking to the Father, it is not the end. Rather, it is the beginning of my service to Him. It is not easy, I have and probably will make a mistake here and there along the way. It’s hard to say what will happen. Regardless, when I do make a mistake I cannot let myself think for one second that I am a slave to sin again. Christ characterizes my life now instead of sin. I run back to Him like a child who has scrapped his knee. I need Him just the same as any other child needs his parent. I just keep running to Him when I stumble and skin myself up.
If I made the choice, I could go back to the bonds of sin in a second. It is that easy to fall (1 Cor. 10:12). It is difficult at times to keep my heart completely focused on Him. I am no different because I still face the same temptations and face similar trials. The difference is through the strength of Christ I am enabled not to give in. I am no more special than anyone because I am not sold into bondage to sin. I am a fellow believer who is following Christ as his master, still being refined as one of His servants. I want to guide you to the same place where God has left me. A place where there is hope and freedom instead of guilt, shame, and slavery. This is the place where God wants us all, to the place that He has designed. That place is by His side serving Him as His servants, loving Him as He first loved us (1 John 4:19, see also 1 Cor. 13).
Love is so important in your battle against sin, and in continued victory. I cannot simply fit it into this note, because I could write a book (haha I already could with what is there, I simply can’t fit it all!). I wrote some notes that deal directly and indirectly with this. I’ll link them for more reading if one so desires.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
–1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Check out Romans, all of it. It’s a great place to start. See also Psalm 51.