Summary: A message on Obedience.
HOW TO OVERCOME SIN
INTRO: All of us have a problem with sin. The question is, “How do I overcome sin in my life?” Let me give you some little principles—very basic, very straightforward.
If you live by the Spirit, He gives the power to overcome the deeds of the flesh. The question is, “All right, how do I do that? I agree that the power is there. I want to see the Spirit do more and more and more. How do I get to that point? How do I get that victory? How do I get that pattern established? What do I do?”
I. RECOGNIZE THE PRESENCE OF SIN IN YOUR FLESH.
Do you know why most Christians are defeated by sin? It is because sin has so totally deceived us, that we never really get to the point where we honestly evaluate its reality.
We are not dealing with the issue. We spend so much of our lives justifying our sin as a quirk of our personality or a product of our environment. We have become so good at coating over the reality of our sin that we don’t see it, so we don’t deal with it because we “flat out,” number one, don’t even recognize it for what it is.
Any kind of spiritual victory begins when we identify the enemy. It’s the same old story, “If you don’t know what you are shooting at, how are you going to hit it?” How am I going to eliminate from my life what I don’t even identify as needing to be eliminated?
It’s there! But inevitably it’s covered up. David said, “Protect me from secret sins, hidden sins?” And to kill it you have to recognize it, you have got to search it out. Psalm 139:23 says: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be . . . “ what? “. . . any wicked way in me.”
Help me see my sinfulness. I want to recognize it for what it is. I want to get to the root of it. That’s what is so absurd about contemporary psychotherapy. Instead of having to deal with the reality of our present spiritual condition, it wants to drag us in the past and find somebody else who is responsible for our problem. We must deal with whatever is the problem in our life—that is us.
Don’t be deceived about how good you are. Believe me, your sin is there, and it is wretched and it spurts forth between the cracks of your supposed righteousness. It comes out in anger and bitter words, unkind thoughts, criticisms, self-conceit, lack of understanding, impatience, weak prayers, immoral thoughts, and even overt sins. We have got to know our weaknesses.
II. A HEART FIXED ON GOD.
In order to gain this victory and to see the power of the Spirit of God begin to give us the power over the unredeemed flesh, we must have a heart fixed on God. The Psalmist said in Psalm 57:7, NIV: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.” What does he mean by that? Undivided devotion to God!
That’s wholeness in spiritual life where I am given wholly to God. We can’t have sin in one area. We can’t just sort of clean up a lot of it but leave it in one area. We can’t starve it out and kill it in one spot and feed it so it lives in another spot. If it lives anywhere it will crawl all over everywhere. It will not confine itself to one area, it’ll be everywhere.
III. MEDITATE ON THE WORD.
The filling of the Spirit is equated in Colossians 3 to letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. When the Word controls us, when it controls our thinking, when it is there as the Psalmist said, “To meditate on day and night,” when it is there hidden that “I might not sin against God,” then we have a control factor in our life. The way to overcome sin in our life is to feed it Scripture.
Whatever really controls our mind, controls our behavior. We must saturate ourselves in the Word. We must hear the Word preached and taught. We must learn it ourselves and we must meditate on it day and night.
IV. COMMUNE WITH GOD IN PRAYER.
True prayer gives the heart a sense of its own vile character and renews the hatred of sin. John Owens said, “He who pleads with God for the remission of sin also pleads with his own heart to detest it.”
When we pray to God—that is an honest confession. We can say we confess our sins, but until we pray, “God show me all the sins of my life, reveal all of them, uncover every little corner of my life. Bring it up and may it become as detestable to me as it is to you, and may you give me the strength to see it go away.” Those are the kind of prayers that are the true prayers of repentance.