Fighting Against Sin
How comfortable are you with your sin?
Do you ever feel the weariness and burden of the seemingly impossible battle with sin? Saying no to sin daily is commanded but we can grow weary in the battle. Spiritual maturity doesn’t come easy, but as Christ-followers we have an obligation to live alert to and fight aggressively against all sin, big and small.
We have a problem
Sin is what we do when our hearts are not satisfied with God. We sin because we believe there is some promise of happiness. It promises freedom, joy, and unending happiness but it never delivers on its promises. Sin never tells the truth.
When God brings us into a relationship with him we come with a heart already tainted with self, selfish motives and desires. So begins the process of sanctification which prunes our sinful desires that seek to find their pleasure outside of the will and ways of God.
Our relationship with Christ is not about changing our behavior, rather it is about God changing us inwardly to be like him (Romans 12:2, 8:29) which then changes our behavior. Our words and deeds tell us what we really are.None of us can live in a way that honors Christ on our own, but as believers we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us giving us the desire and ability to do what is right (Philippians 2:13). Therefore, increasing in your hatred for sin and longing to fight the battle against sin is one clear evidence that you are truly saved.
So let’s self-examine and assess our current perspective of sin in our lives.
Are you comfortable with where you are in “saying no” to sin in your life?
Do you justify sin by convincing your heart that you are not so bad because of the “greater” sins of others?
Do you regularly assess your words and conduct and the heart desires producing them?
Do you respond to “seemingly small” sins with repentance and sorrow?
Identify both sinful actions and attitudes
In God’s view all sin is against him, no matter how “minor,” and therefore, this is very serious.
There will always be a battle with our sinful flesh but we have no excuse for letting sin continue to infiltrate our lives, no matter how “inconsequential” we might feel it is…
The examples of “small,” “acceptable” or “overlookable” sins could be endless: an inward bad attitude regarding a job or your spouse, sarcastic words, a judgmental thought, a rolling of the eyes, the silent treatment, a “secret” lustful thought, or just simple impatience.
Consider both your inward and outward responses to people who sin against you. How do you respond when sinned against? Is your thinking God-honoring? Are your actions towards that person reflecting the character of God? Are you trusting God in an ongoing difficult situation or allowing anxiety and bitterness to consume you? Do you accept what God gives you without complaining? Do you show your wife you cherish and delight in her even if she doesn’t deserve it? Does your husband see and experience your respectful attitude despite his poor attitude?
Everything we think and do is in plain view of the Almighty and Holy God. If we are commanded to act or think in a certain way and we don’t…it is sin. God commands Christlikeness not only in our actions but in our thinking! Big or small, sin is heinous in God’s eyes. “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
Acknowledge all sin
The more we love God and desire to glorify him, the clearer we will see our sin, and the more we will hate sin as God does (Psalm 26:5, 31:6). The more we believe that God is our deepest need and our very life (Acts 17:28) the more we will do battle with the alluring power of sin (Psalm 63:3).
Are you willing to deal with all sin? Do you desire to fight against even the smallest of sins?
We must daily live attentive to sin’s deception. Paul states, we are to “make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). This means constantly watching, being careful, standing firm, being on our guard (Matthew 16:6, 26:41; Luke 12:15; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Peter 3:17). This is a battle that must be taken up daily. No one born of God can live at peace with sin (1 John 3:9).
“In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)
Call to action
Changing our sinful patterns must begin with one goal; a desire to glorify, honor, and reflect the character of our Savior.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Start by listing three sins you commit every week but don’t really plan to stop doing, or at the very least, aren’t working to kill.
Are there situations where you need to change but are not willing to change? Unthankfulness, pride, impatience, frustration, harboring resentment, gossip, discontentment, control, anger, worry, worldliness, lustful thoughts, selfishness, sins of the tongue, lack of self-control, lack of submission, a bad attitude with your parents. Be specific.
What sins do you let slide or accept because everyone does them? These are the ones that don’t even make the category of “sin” in your mind because they have become so comfortable.
Ask yourself why you commit some sins every week and some never? What makes those sins acceptable?
No one gets hurt?
No one finds out?
No outward evidence?
A true believer will desire to fight daily to bring glory to God by dying to self, turning from sin, and running hard after him each day. However, as we have just discussed, the fight is very long, hard and seemingly impossible at times. Besides that, simply recognizing the seriousness of sin can be elusive and deceptive. For many there is a will to fight the good fight but often there is a misunderstanding on how the Scriptures tell us to do this.
God’s part and our part in the battle
In the next blog we will look more closely at:
The part that God plays in our battle against sin
The part God has given to us
If we are not clear on how to fight biblically it is likely we will attempt to battle sin wrongly, or expect God to do things in the battle he has given to us to do.
About the author
Karen McMahon is passionate about helping others apply biblical truth to every situation in life. She is the Director of Discipleship Counseling at First Evangelical Free Church in Maplewood, Minnesota, serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Alliance, and is a certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). She has a MA in Theology Studies from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Minnesota and a MA in Biblical Counseling from Faith Bible Seminary-Lafayette, Indiana.