Summary: God through the Apostle Paul gives us an outline for breaking free from sin: 1) Remember who we are (dead to sin, alive in Christ), 2) Say no to temptation, and 3) Say yes to God. Dead people don't sin! With God's help, we can obey rather than sin.
Breaking Free from Sin
“Dear God, you’re really going to be proud of me! I haven't gossiped, lusted, or lost my temper today. I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that. In a few minutes, though, I'm going to get out of bed. From then on, I'm probably going to need a LOT of help!” That’s our prayer, right? Do you ever struggle with breaking free from sin?
A while back I got pulled over for speeding. I thought I might play the minister card to avoid a ticket, so I said to the officer, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Without blinking an eye, he handed me the ticket and said, “Go and sin no more.” [That is NOT a true story!]
How many here have gone this past week without committing a single sin? Raise your hands high! If nothing else, we’ll get you on pride, ha! Is it realistic, then, to think that we can ever go without sinning? Perhaps not forever in this life, but God does give us the power to live victoriously. Today we’ll look at how to break free from sin. I have three simple steps for you. They are simple, but not always easy, and they come right out of our passage today. Step #1,
1. Know who you are. In today’s passage the Apostle Paul states a number of times who we are as Christian believers: we are people who have died to sin and are alive in Christ. That’s who we are. As Christians, we identify fully with Jesus in his death on the cross; our sins died with him there just as surely as he died. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “One died for all, and therefore all died.” And we also identify with him in his resurrection on the third day. The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead raises us from spiritual death to eternal life the moment we believe in Jesus.
Paul provides an illustration in the waters of baptism. In Bible times, you were baptized as soon as possible after you had committed your life to Jesus. It was a way to stand up publicly for Jesus, since he stood up for you. Remember how Paul and Silas witnessed to the jailer and his family? God saved them all, and they were baptized that night.
The other thing about baptisms in the Bible is that there was no sprinkling back then; everyone was dunked. In fact, the word “baptism” literally means “immersion.” Paul uses that here as an illustration: As one is lowered down into the water, he or she dies to sin and self, as Christ died and was laid in the tomb. Then, as one is raised back out of the water, he or she becomes newly alive, just as Christ became newly alive on that first Easter morn. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation: The old has gone, the new has come!”
If you’re a Christian believer, this is who you are. Jesus died and you died, and your sin died along with you. Verse 7 says, “Anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Paul has little fun here in a morbid sort of way, because the truth is that dead people don’t sin. If you sneak into a morgue in the middle of the night, when all the staff is gone, you won’t find any activity there. You don’t find anybody in a morgue who is stealing or lying or committing murder. Those who have died are set free from sin. When Jesus died, our sinful selves died with him. Next time you’re tempted to sin, ask yourselves, “Could I commit this sin if I was lying dead in the morgue?” And there’s your answer: you have died to sin.
But that’s not the end of the story. Jesus rose again, and we rose with him, the moment we became a believer. In that moment, you became a brand-new creation. You were born from above. The same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead, he also used to raise you from spiritual death to eternal life. It’s important, in combatting sin, to know who you are: dead to sin, and alive in Christ. The second step is to ...
2. Say no to temptation. In verse 12, Paul says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” The word “reign” is appropriate, because Paul pictures sin ruling over us. He even describes sin as our master and us as its slaves (verse 6). So, the idea is to keep sin off the throne. He completes the thought in the first half of verse 13: Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness.