Why do so many Christians struggle with sin? I am not talking about the occasional sin, but rather a lifestyle that seems to breed continual hardships and dysfunction.
Paul Tripp, in his book, Broken-Down House says living in this world is a lot like living in a broken-down house. He writes, “Every single room has been dirtied and damaged by sin. Not one part of it shines with anything like the pure glory that was so evident when it was first made. Sin has left this world in a sorry condition. You see it everywhere you look.” I agree with Tripp, sin has left its mark on all of us. Unfortunately, many believers never seem to rise above the brokenness and move forward in God’s restoration process.
Certainly, there are numerous reasons why Christians struggle in life – too many to mention here, but God has the solution to our problems and it can be found, at least in part, in Romans 6:8-18.
Romans 6:8-18 (ESV)
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Within this passage there are three truths that can help you overcome the stronghold of sin in your life.
Recognize you have a new Ruler on the throne of your life (new identity).
His name is Jesus. He has defeated the power of sin in your life. You may still choose to dwell in sin, but the bondage is broken. When a person becomes a believer, he is no longer confined to a sinful disposition. In fact, Christ’s finished work destroys the power of sin and transforms the believer into a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Tragically, many believers never embrace their new identity. Instead, they settle for spiritual poverty and destructive living.
Start living according to who you are and not who you were.
Image if you were a poor commoner and a King adopted and anointed you heir to the throne. Would you remain outside the King’s gates and continue to live in squander? No, you would humbly assume the role of nobility and enjoy the fullness the King provides. In a similar way, many Christians refuse to embrace their new identity as heirs of God. King Jesus has provided everything needed to enjoy the blessing of God, but many continue to remain outside the gates. They refuse to walk in the good that Christ’s provides and consequently live a life with very little meaning and significance. Will you embrace your identity in Christ and enjoy the King’s provisions?
Use all the resources God provides to help you live out your new identity.
There are a number of resources God provides to help you as you live out the Christian life. In this passage, Paul references the standard of teaching to which the believers in Rome had committed themselves to obey (v.17). Like those first century Christian we also have God’s Word to guide us in overcoming sin. Unfortunately, many believers today spend little time studying the Bible minimizing its transforming power in their lives (Rom 12:2). The steady intake of Scripture is a must if you are going to overcome sinful strongholds in your life.
Secondly, although not specifically mention in this passage, the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with the Scripture. For those who are in Christ the Holy Spirit lives within you (1 Corinthians 3:16). Part of His responsibility is to guide you in all truth (John 16:13). In others words, as you study the Bible the Holy Spirt will bring those biblical truths to mind as you seek to live for Christ. If you do not know the Bible, you hinder the work of the Spirit in your life. As a pastor, I think most believers never maximize the full benefit of having the Holy Spirit as a part of their lives. Instead, they settle for living out the Christian life in their own strength – something God never intended.
Finally, God has given us the Body of Christ, specifically, the local church, to help us as we grow. If you really want to overcome sin in your life you need the help of other believers. I have found that spiritual growth can best take place in the context of a strong Bible-believing church where folks genuinely love, care, and hold each other accountable. In fact, if you are not plugged into a local church you are missing out on one of the most important opportunities God has provided for you to grow as a Christian. Do yourself a favor and connect with a good church as soon as possible.