By Jack Wilkie
In every day of the Christian life we’re either giving in to the “old man of sin” or we’re defeating sin in our efforts to grow more like Christ. The latter should be the goal of every Christian, but sometimes that’s difficult.
As new Christians it’s often the external sins that get more attention – sexual sins, drunkenness, profanity, and the like. But the more we progress in our understanding, the more it’s the struggles of the heart like pride, envy, anger, and dishonesty that trip us up. Beyond that, we start to grow more aware of our “sins of omission” – the good things we are supposed to do but maybe aren’t.
So, wherever you are in your Christian walk, there’s some battle you’re fighting. Here are 6 important steps we need to take daily in our battles with sin.
Faith
How do we defeat sin by faith? By trusting God’s promise that Jesus is better than anything sin gives us. Abraham had to have faith that it was better for Him to follow God than to remain at home. Noah had to have faith that building an ark would be worth all of the effort it took. The prophets and the early church had to have faith that putting their life on the line for God’s message would be worth the pain they faced. We have to have faith that leaving behind the sins that we enjoy and with which we’re comfortable will be a trade worth making every time.
Reading and memorization
It’s hard to fight against sin when we don’t know what it is, and it’s hard to have God’s help in our battles when we won’t listen to Him. The psalmist wrote, “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11), and Jesus showed us how that work when He faced Satan’s temptations (Matt. 4). Spending time in God’s Word draws us nearer to Him, and putting it in our hearts helps it convict us when the opportunity for sin arises.
Prayer and meditation
God will give the way of escape in our temptations (1 Cor. 10:13), but He’s only going to help us if we want it. Training our minds to submit to Him daily by sharing our struggles and temptations, asking for strength, and meditating on His commands helps us be mentally prepared for the daily battles we face.
Confession and accountability
Without confession, we have to fight our sin battles alone. However, God never intended for us to try to navigate our spiritual life that way (Gal. 6:1-2, Jas. 5:16). By telling others our struggles, we can lean on each other for prayer, regular accountability, and encouragement. When we fight in secrecy, there’s no one to help us progress, no one to encourage us when we grow, no one to give us that push we need when temptation is strong.
Sadly, confession is often relegated to the invitation song on Sunday, and that’s often relegated to being only for “BIG” or “public” sins that somebody feels they need to confess. But we all battle sin regularly, and so we need that help regularly. Ask yourself – who knows about my sin struggles? Who do I regularly talk to for help and encouragement? Who is praying for me?
Remembrance
God’s formula for keeping Israel faithful to Him was clearly set out in Deuteronomy 6 – love God, teach others to do the same, and always remember what He has done for you. Every time Israel strayed, it’s because they forgot God’s goodness and love. The same happens in our lives. When we aren’t regularly remembering Jesus in the Sunday worship and daily focusing on His sacrifice, God’s promises grow stale and we begin to drift.
Walk in good works
The Christian life isn’t just about spending decades trying not to sin. We have to fill our hearts and our minds with good works in place of the sin we want to escape. Our time and our thoughts must be occupied with trying to carry out the works God created us for (Eph. 2:10). Busy yourself with God’s good works and you’ll find less and less room for sin in your life.
No matter where we are in our Christian walk, none of us will ever be perfect. Thankfully, God’s grace lets us continue on serving Him even when we stumble. But as Paul showed in Romans 6:1-2, grace should never be an excuse to not confront our sins. May we all dedicate ourselves to uncovering the sins in our lives and striving to be more like Jesus every day.