Chapter 4: Lies Women Believe About Sin
Day 5: Victory Over Sin
Lie #17: “I cannot walk in consistent victory over sin.”
That fact that God’s Spirit enables us and compels us to walk in complete, consistent victory over sin is huge, and for those of us who actually want to overcome our sin, it brings great hope and encouragement.
The question now becomes one of practicality. How does this actually work?
Let’s begin by looking at the job of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
The Holy Spirit is given by God and helps to be obedient to God.
When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.
The Holy Spirit will reveal God’s Truth to us.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
The Holy Spirit helps us to submit to God in obedience.
The Holy Spirit leads us to life.
The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to become God’s children.
The Holy Spirit’s work in us is evidence of our salvation. And the Holy Spirit’s work is revealing truth to us and enabling us to be obedient to that truth.
The Holy Spirit is a crucial part of a believer’s life. We receive the Holy Spirit when we surrender our lives to Christ, and then he begins his work in us to enable us to become like Christ.
In Romans 8 we clearly see that we cannot be walking in the Spirit and our flesh at the same time. We have to kill our flesh to walk in the Spirit. They are complete opposites! One leads to death, the other to life. They cannot co-exist. In Luke 14, when Jesus calls us to take up our crosses, he’s talking about dying – dying to our flesh, to our selves, so that we can live for Christ.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this in Galatians 2:20 when he says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
In Romans 13:14, we read that we are not to “feed” our flesh. We should not provide for it, or seek to gratify it, but instead we should be “feeding” the Spirit. Since the flesh (sin) and the Spirit (obedience) are in opposition to each other, we need to understand that to feed one is to starve the other.
And because it’s the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives (GRACE) that enables us to overcome sin, first by revealing the sin, then revealing the solution, and then giving us the power to do it, it’s crucial that we’re walking in the Spirit, or feeding the Spirit. Without that fellowship, we’re powerless to sin.
In order to help clarify a few things, I’m going to borrow some illustrations and quotes from Joshua Harris’s book, Dug Down Deep. You can read it yourself here.
“This is you. Or us, a human made in God’s image.
Ladies, sorry you have to identify with a little guy.
I’m not sure why he doesn’t have a shirt.”
“This is the flesh. He’s kind of a Jabba the Hut meets WWF wrestler.
The Flesh represents the sinful, corrupted desires of our heart.
It’s not a reference to our bodies–our bodies are created by God and are good.
The flesh represents our sinful cravings to live for ourselves
and disobey God’s laws and commands.”
“Before Jesus saves us, this is how all of us relate to the flesh.
The Bible says that we are slaves to our sinful desires. Our flesh is boss.
If you’re not a Christian, I’m not trying to offend you. I know this isn’t a flattering picture
of your current condition but it’s true of all of us apart from God saving us.”
“This is what happens when we trust in Jesus.
Because Jesus died on the cross and conquered sin and rose again,
we are freed from the power of sin. It’s no longer our boss.
See how the chain is broken? And we get clothes, which is really great.”
“But our flesh doesn’t disappear. It still hangs around to entice us.
After we’re Christians, we’re no longer slaves to sin, but the flesh can still tempt us.
We can choose to give into temptation and indulge the flesh.
This is what theologians call “indwelling sin.” Jesus broke the power of sin,
but we still live with the presence and influence of sinful desires.”
“That’s why the Bible is full of encouragement to fight our fleshly desires.
We can’t live at peace with it. We have to attack it and deny it.
(In hindsight, I guess the ‘sword of the Spirit’ would have been a bit more biblical. Oh well.)”
“The problem is that too often Christians make friends with their flesh.
In fact they feed their flesh. We give into our sinful desires. We pamper our flesh.
We provide it three rounded meals a day with snacks and dessert.
We might think that since we’ve been freed by the cross it’s okay to indulge the flesh.
But there’s a real problem. When we feed the flesh…”
“…it grows! And before you know it, the flesh is bigger
and stronger than you and starts to push you a
round. That’s why Paul is telling us in Romans 13 that we need to…”
“…starve our flesh! That’s what we want our flesh to look like.
We want the flesh gaunt and feeble. When Paul says ‘make no provision for the flesh’
he’s saying don’t feed your sinful desires. Don’t do things—don’t think things,
don’t watch things, don’t meditate on things—that strengthen your sinful inclinations.”
I think the biggest obstacle that we have in starving vs. feeding our flesh is that we still classify sins, and as long it’s something “little,” how bad could it get? But it DOES get bad – because one sin leads to another leads to another… and each time it gets easier and easier to sin. And then it’s harder and harder to be obedient.
In what ways do we make provision for the flesh?
Maybe it’s what you read, watch, or listen to – things that desensitizes you to immorality, violence, or foul language.
Or it could be your choice of friends who entice you into sin.
Or what about “little” things like overeating? Did you know that lack of self-control in one area spills over until you have no discipline in any area of your life?
If you really want to dig deep, check out The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
So what does it take to feed the Spirit and starve the flesh? It starts with making a commitment to remember that, as we learned previously, all sin is a big deal. That instead of asking “what’s the harm,” we need to consider, “what’s the benefit?”
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
I find it interesting that there’s a comparison of being filled with wine and being filled with the Spirit. What happens when you become filled with wine? It influences you to act in ways you wouldn’t normally behave. Consider what it means to be filled with the Spirit – he influences you to act in ways you wouldn’t normally behave! Only, instead of for the flesh and sin, it’s for obedience.
In this passage, there are three things we’re told to do in order to be filled with the Spirit:
- Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
You can’t be in the Spirit, filled with spiritual things, if you’re listening to and singing secular music. They are against each other. One is focused on self, lust, pride, and the world, and the other is focused on God.
- Give thanks for everything.
You cannot be critical or complain when you’re focused on what God has done for you! Focusing on God’s blessings and power in your life helps you to trust him for the next step as you have for the last one.
- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
You cannot be submitted to God if you’re not submitting to those he has placed in authority over you – and even those who aren’t over you. In order to love others (the second greatest command) we must be humble servants to everyone we encounter. This is not because we entrust ourselves to them, but to Christ!
This is what it takes to crucify the flesh. In 1 John 2 we read that there are three roots of sin – the lust of the flesh (choosing what feels good/self-indulgence), lust of the eyes (materialism), and pride. If you look back at the list of the three things we must do to crucify our flesh and walk in the Spirit, you’ll see that the 1st one causes us to kill the root of the lust of the flesh. The 2nd one helps us to overcome materialism, and the 3rd to kill our pride.
Crucifying flesh is something we must do daily, sometimes even hourly. We cannot let our guard down – we must be pressing on toward the prize! We cannot passively win a race.
What we believe determines the way that we live. If we believe we can’t overcome our sin, we won’t. If we believe sin isn’t a big deal, we’ll continue in it. But if we believe that God’s grace (the power he gives to do what he says) is available to us, then we will begin to walk in consistent victory – and we’ll discover it wasn’t nearly as difficult as we believed.
I heard a story recently about a woman who was running a race, and as she neared the end the spectators noticed she was talking to herself. After she finished, someone asked her why she was talking to herself. “I wasn’t talking to myself,” she said. “I was praying.” The person asked what she was praying about, and she answered, “I just kept saying, ‘God, you pick ’em up and I’ll put ’em down!'”
If you think about it, the hardest part of walking or running is actually lifting your feet. And in life, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job – to lift our feet. When he convicts of us of our sin, he’s lifting our foot. When he shows us a need he wants us to meet in someone else’s life, he’s lifting our foot. When we’re scared but know we must take a step of faith, he’s the one lifting our foot. But then we must decide if we’ll yield to him. Will we take the step forward and put our foot back down? Or will we try to balance on that one foot until we fall over? I’ll just let you know right now that the Holy Spirit will out-wait you each time. You’ll always fail a battle of wills with God.
You cannot overcome sin on your own. But isn’t it amazing that you’re not alone? God’s power is all we need to walk in complete, consistent victory over sin in our lives. All we have to do is yield to him.
Key Points to Remember:
- As a child of God, I am free from the power of sin. I am now a slave to Christ, obedience, and righteousness.
- Grace is the power God gives to do what God says.
- The Holy Spirit’s job is to reveal God’s truth and help me to obey it.
- I cannot feed the flesh and the Spirit at the same time – to feed one is to starve the other.
- Every moment of every day I am always feeding either the flesh or the Spirit. Even the small stuff matters.
- I must crucify my flesh daily, hourly, and even minute to minute, by singing Godly music, being thankful, and submitting to authority.
- Feeding the Flesh – Joshua Harris
- Spiritual Death Happens One Compromise at a Time
- What Must Be Laid Aside
- How Can I Keep From Singing…! Oh yeah – here’s how.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.