20 Jul If I’m Saved, Why Fight Sin?
In kindergarten, I walked to the store with my next door neighbor and stole some candy. Actually, he stole it, but that’s not the point—I watched him and gladly agreed. Not long after, I understood the gospel in a very basic way, and something began to change in me.
Along with other areas, I no longer felt good about stealing candy. Something had changed. What I couldn’t have told you then is what I know now: God’s Spirit was working in me to “guide me into all truth” (John 16:13). Things I didn’t care about before, I now did. I became aware of my temptations. Life actually became harder being a Christian than before! What do we make of this?
The Reality of Sin
At one point, the world was without sin. Humanity and all creation flourished under the care of our Creator in a land where famine, cancer, and murder did not exist. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Unfortunately, the broken world we live in began with the eating of the fruit in the garden, with people turning away from God to be their own god. The result? The world is cursed and groaning under the weight of sin (Romans 8:22). Humanity wakes up everyday wanting to rule themselves rather than follow a Ruler.
How Deep is Sin?
David says, “surely I was sinful at birth” (Psalm 51:5a NIV). Our environment—how we are nurtured—pulls us towards sin, but sin is much deeper than just our external environment. Paul calls sin a “law at work in me”—a rule happening inside of me where “nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:23 NIV,18 ESV). Later, he says sin makes us “hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). We are angry towards a Creator, opposed to authority, and loving autonomy. Sounds deep, doesn’t it? It is. I could go on and on. Sin is with us when we are at our best and when we are at our worst (Romans 7:22, Genesis 6:12). It does its work in us to tempt and deceive with ease, and it takes no breaks (Hebrews 12:1, Romans 7:17). With sin’s persistent power, it could lead us to think, “If it’s such a challenge that’s not going away, why not just concede, stop the fight, and let sin win?”
Why We Fight Sin
Although this is in no way an exhaustive list, here’s a snapshot for why Scripture leads us to fight rather than relent to the sin in us and around us.
1. We are told to fight. Titus 2 represents the common road for all believers. “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people” (v.11). Grace has been provided to us through Jesus. How do we respond? “And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures” (v.12). God’s grace that saves sinners is the motivation for sinners to change. They go hand in hand. When Jesus says “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15 ESV), He is speaking to our human need—to turn towards the grace Jesus extends and turn from ourselves. To come to faith in Christ is to understand the basic news that our sin is killing us and has separated us from God, and that God, through Christ, has provided a remedy. Therefore, we turn from sin. The question to ask is this: Do I willingly turn towards Christ and away from my gossip, lust, jealousy, and anger?
2. We have the power to fight. Like Paul, at times we feel “dominated by sin and death” (Romans 7:24), and yet Paul follows up his own personal recounting of his difficulty with sin by saying, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2). As powerful as sin feels, Jesus has given us more power in His Spirit. This is why we must “consider [our]selves to be dead to the power of sin … not give in to sinful desires … [i]nstead, give [our]selves completely to God” (Romans 6:11-13). There is a never-ending tension in this life with facing the power of sin and believing God is more powerful as we “give” ourselves again and again to Him and ask His Spirit for help.
3. We will be consumed by it if we do not fight. The sinful nature has plans for you. “For if you live by its dictates, you will die” (Romans 8:13a). There is a war that remains in you—in your nature—and if you listen to your own thoughts and inclinations, it will lead you to spiritual destruction. We also have an enemy who has you in his sights. He is targeting you to take you down with sin. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Sinning is not difficult, and your enemy takes advantage of that and provides ample opportunity to move you towards your natural appetites.
4. We have a champion to look to in our fight. As we have been learning in Hebrews, we are to “think of all the hostility [Jesus] endured from sinful people” (Hebrews 12:3a). Why do we think about that? Because it moves our hearts to trust Him, to fight for our lives when it comes to sin, because Jesus “endured the cross, disregarding its shame” so that in our struggle with sin we will not “become weary and give up” (Hebrews 12:2,3). Think about it: without Jesus, you are currently separated from God, unable to deal with your sin, and living under God’s judgment for sin. Yet is that your story? No! Because of Jesus, your sin has been judged, Jesus has faced death and won for you, your sins are not counted against you, and God has brought you into His family as a child. Think about that reality! Is it humbling for you? Does it stir your heart in any way? If you can treat the cross casually, beware—Jesus says many people think they are good with Him when in fact they are not (Luke 13:24, Matthew 7:13-14). Yet if Jesus makes your heart sing, if your desires are to have more of Him, if you long to bring Him glory and honor, then be comforted: God will win the day in your battle with sin.
—Mark Moody, Anderson Campus Pastor