How To Deal With Sin - Past and Present

Romans 6:11:

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
God does not expect believers to be perfect, but He does expect them to be growing. This is no easy task since we struggle with the old selfish patterns of thinking and behaving that remain in us (Romans 7:17). And every time we choose to live by those old patterns--whether in our thoughts, words, or actions--we sin. This war with sin will continue until the end of our earthly existence. Therefore, it is essential to our growth in Christ that we learn to deal with sin God's way. Our former ways of dealing with sin must change. Like Adam and Eve, our Genesis 3 way of treating guilt is ineffective and counterproductive. The Genesis 3 kind of person tries to run from tree to tree, hide, and blame shift. He tries to cover over sin so that God and others cannot see it. God's way, however, is to grow in transparency--to walk in the light of His Word and deal with sin properly. This study will help you learn to deal with sin God's way. Sin has two aspects that need to be dealt with: guilt and power.

Dealing With The Guilt Of Sin

The world tends to focus on the feeling of guilt-and how to make it go away. The Scripture, however, focuses on the fact of our guilt--and how to successfully deal with it God's way. The feeling of guilt is actually designed by God to help us to recognize the fact of guilt much like sensory nerves alert the body to harmful activities-such as putting your hand on an oven burner!

The guilt of sin has to do with violating God's law. When a person sins or breaks God's law (i.e. His moral will for us as revealed in His Word), he becomes guilty before a holy God (1 John 3:4). That means he is held responsible for his action, and he is liable to whatever punishment God's law requires. God’s just nature requires the punishment of our sin (Nahum 1:3a). As condemned sinners we are all liable to the sufferings of this life, to physical death, and to the eternal punishment of Hell (Romans 6:23).

However, once we place our trust in Jesus Christ, God has provided for the payment of our guilt in the sacrifice of His Son (Romans 3:23-26). Jesus' sacrificial death allows God to be both just (sin is punished) and merciful (we are forgiven). Jesus' sacrificial death (as well as His sinless life) removes the liability caused by our sin and results in our justification (i.e. our acquittal or being declared righteous in God's eyes). This means all our sins are forgiven. Never again can we be condemned by God's law. We are always righteous despite our sin because our righteousness is not ours but Christ's, which God has reckoned (transferred) to our heavenly bank account through faith.

As Christians, God no longer deals with our sin in terms of condemnation--but correction. When we sinned as non-Christians, God as Judge could only look at our sinful record and condemn us. Now when we sin as Christians, God as Judge looks at the record and sees the spotless record of His Son--and is satisfied. But as our Father, He looks at our sin and is displeased (Ephesians 4:29-30). Because He loves us, He will not throw us out of His family. Rather He disciplines and corrects us in order to make us more holy--like His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:5-12).

Therefore, it is very important that we cooperate with God in dealing with our sin. We must not cover our sin--which only creates more problems (Proverbs 28:13a). We cover our sin by ignoring it, denying it, excusing it, or blaming someone else for it (1 John 1:8; Genesis 3:8-12; Genesis 4:9). Covering our sin only makes it necessary for a loving Father to increase His disciplinary pressure on us (Psalm 32:3-4).

The High Cost Of Covering Our Sin!
Did you know...

  • That unresolved sin can be harmful to our bodies? (Proverbs 14:30)

  • That one cause (certainly not the only cause) of sickness may be unresolved sin? (James 5:15-16)

  • That unresolved sin invites our Father’s opposition to our plans and efforts? (James 4:6)

  • That the sin of not loving another believer causes spiritual blindness and keeps us from knowing and carrying out God’s will? (1 John 2:11)

  • That unresolved sin affects our prayer life? (1 Peter 3:7)

Instead, we must confess our sin, first to God (1 John 1:9), and then to the appropriate people (Matthew 5:23-24). The word confess means "to say the same thing" or ''to agree with God about my sin” (make restitution--where necessary—Luke 19:8).

Questions On Confessing Sin

  • To whom do you confess? The circle of confession is only as wide as the circle of offense.

  • How do you confess? Not “I’m sorry” (Too vague). But rather, “I was wrong for_____. Will you forgive me?”

  • When do you confess? As soon as you can—before the day is over if possible (Ephesians 4:26-27).

The same God who forgives the guilt of sin also empowers us in...

Dealing With The Power Of Sin

As non-Christians, we were in bondage to the power of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). We were powerless to do God's will (Romans 8:8). We were powerless to change ourselves (Jeremiah 13:23).

Yet through our union with Jesus Christ, the power of sin has been conquered (Romans 6:4-7). The old sinful self has died with Christ. We now have a new life in Him.

Your Union With Christ—A Great Mystery

Although we do not fully understand it, God says that the moment we are saved, we are joined to Christ in such a way that we actually participate in the meaning and power of Christ’s death and resurrection (which is illustrated in baptism). What this means is that we do not have to sin any longer because the enslaving power of sin has been broken. Understanding this union becomes the basis for overcoming sin in our daily experience.

Though the power of sin has been defeated, we must learn to overcome the habits of sin that still reside in us by...

*Counting ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11).

*Offering every part of ourselves in service to Christ (Romans 6:12-13).

Counting ourselves dead to sin and offering ourselves (i.e. all the parts of our body) in service to Christ is similar to the concept of putting off old selfish habits and putting on new godly habits (Ephesians 4:22-24).

*Using the means that God has provided to accomplish this:

  • Depending on His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-24).
  • Studying His Holy Word (1 Peter 2:1-2).
  • Calling out for help in prayer (Ephesians 3:16).
  • Receiving encouragement and correction from other believers (Galatians 6:1).

Although you will struggle with sin the rest of your earthly life, you can be sure that God has given you the promises and power to deal with sin--both its guilt as well as its power.

Life Application

Is there any sin between you and God that you have not dealt with through confessing it to Him? If so, consider the words of David in Psalm 32:1-4--and then take care of it right away. You (and God) will be glad you did!

Are you aware of another person you have wronged--yet you have not taken care of it? Read over Matthew 5:23-24 and work out a plan to go to them as soon as possible.

Does Satan ever bring up old sins from the past to discourage you or defeat you? Then go to Romans 8:31-39 and remind him of the promise that God has settled those sins once for all!!!

Do you find yourself continually defeated by a particularly dominating sinful habit? Then review the above verses for overcoming the power of sin.

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