The battle with sin is the final topic in this series. So far, I have laid out reasons why I believe the writing is on the wall for our nation. Never before have we seem the proliferation of sin across our society on the scale we are seeing today, and mark my word, we will reap what we are sowing in the lives of the next generations.
We are engaged in a battle with sin to the death with sin, both in our own lives and across society! Make no mistake, these battles we see are not about fairness, equality or catering for a small minority who want to express their sexuality, it’s not about inclusiveness and love is love or my body is my body, this is a battle to the death. Either we kill sin, or sin kills us!
Romans 6:23 (ESV Strong's)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This war is not just a physical battle, it is spiritual, and it is a life and death battle for the very survival of life as we know it.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV Strong’s)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
So today we will examine how we can fight and win in this terrifying war against sin...
CHECK THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
The first thing we must realise is that our conscience is our friend, not our enemy in the battle against sin. Our society tells us the conscience should be seared, dulled or hardened, because it makes us feel guilty for the sins we commit, and we don’t like that! Society says, “It’s not your fault,” so instead of recognising sin we ignore it, suppress it and if confronted by it, we shift the blame to our parents, our spouse, our upbringing, our situation or our recently diagnosed mental illness.
When the check engine light comes on, society urges us not to look deeper and find the cause, but to put a sticker over it and ignore it! They reason, if you ignore it long enough, maybe the light will go out. Meanwhile sin rises victorious, God’s standards are flaunted, our children are corrupted and healthy babies are murdered, and all the while we hear no evil, see no evil and say nothing!
Ezekiel 3:18 (ESV Strong's)
If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
It is time to fight and kill sin in our own life and across our society, because if we don’t kill him, he will surely stop at nothing to kill us!
THE BATTLE WITH SIN RAGES
The apostle Paul faced this very dilemma in the battle with sin in Romans 7. Listen to what He says…
Romans 7:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Romans 7:19-20 (ESV Strong's)
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:23-24 (ESV Strong's)
but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Paul struggled with sin, he fought the good fight, and so must we. Church, we must never put a sticker over our conscience and think we are ok, because sin will start killing us off right there. The battle rages, and though we may not totally win until we are with the Lord, we must fight and kill off sin the best we can. We start in our own lives, and as we win this battle we earn the right to speak into the nation!
KILLING OFF SIN
Colossians 3:5 (ESV Strong's)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
God calls us to show mercy and love to one another in this battle with sin, and to love our enemies, even if we don’t agree with them, even if they flaunt sin in our faces and attack us. I am not suggesting hatred to gays, transgenders, abortionists or wayward politicians. I’m suggesting love to them, kindness and respect. However, in the battle with sin I will not show kindness respect and love to the evils they perpetrate! Love people, even the evil ones, but kill off sin!
It is time to kill off sin, to fight sin to the death and win! But let me first tell you How sin is not put to death, in our lives and in our community…
1. SIN IS NOT KILLED BY COVERING IT UP
You can hide your sin, cover it up and no one will know… except you and God.
Proverbs 28:13 (ESV Strong's)
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Covering it up, putting a sticker on your check engine light, actually leaves you in a more dangerous position that facing your sin and dealing with it. Covering sin doesn’t kill it, it makes it more dangerous, and starts a progression that leads to death…
James 1:15 (ESV Strong's)
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
2. SIN IS NOT KILLED BY INTERNALISING IT
Forsaking the outward expression of your sin, but still harbouring it in your mind and imagination does not kill the enemy in this battle with sin. Outside you look good, and no one knows the sin that still lurks within. Jesus warned religious leaders about this inner battle with sin...
Matthew 23:24-25 (ESV Strong's)
You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Cleaning the outside doesn’t make the inside clean, so internalising your sin doesn’t set you free, regardless of whether you look good on the outside to your friends or family.
3. SIN IS NOT KILLED BY EXCHANGING IT
Heroin addicts are often treated with methadone, substituting one drug for another… it is less destructive, but the addiction remains. Substituting one sin for another does not solve the problem and it does not kill sin. Replacing the sin of fornication with pornography does not cure your lust.
Proverbs 23:7 (KJV Strong's)
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:
All sin is sin, so exchanging one sin for another does not kill sin, it just morphs it!
4. SIN IS NOT KILLED BY REPRESSING IT
In this battle with sin People try to repress sin in many ways. They try and drown it in alcohol or drugs, suppress it by escapism in movies and TV shows, and they try and repress one destructive relationship by starting another destructive relationship. But sin is irrepressible… drink and get high all you like, when you sober up guess what… your sin is still there, bigger than ever!
Wherever you go, however you try and escape, sin will hunt you down on this battle with sin! But here’s the great news… God will also hunt you down, and find you in your sin.
Psalms 139:7-10 (ESV Strong's)
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
You can change jobs, change churches, change town, change country, change marriage, but your sin still goes with you. Prinze God, that your Saviour goes with you also. So don’t repress, confess.
5. SIN IS NOT KILLED BY UNTIL THE CONSCIENCE IS CLEAR
Sin is only killed when your conscience is clear. Remember, your conscience is the check engine light, so when the underlying problem is solved, the light goes off. Don’t stop fighting in this battle with sin until your conscience is purified, because partial obedience is disobedience!
Acts 24:16 (ESV Strong's)
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
A clear conscience is a wonderful thing as we mentioned last week. While ever sin is present, even if it is tolerated, then a clear conscience is unattainable. So don’t try and substitute a dulled, a seared or a hardened conscience for the real thing. Sin isn’t dead until the check engine light is off!
12 STEP PLAN TO VICTORY IN THE BATTLE WITH SIN
Killing off sin entirely is not going to happen this side of glory, but that does not mean we stop fighting the battle with sin.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV Strong's)
we all, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
We should expect our victories over sin to be ever increasing even if the final victory will not be seen until we reach Heaven. Indeed, the ultimate victory will be ours, and every blow you land for righteousness is a victory for God and for His holiness!
So despite the recent legislative changes, I will not stay silent, and I will not stop fighting for what is right and godly! I refuse to keep silent and fade away, and I will obey the laws of this land only up until they contradict the expressed law of God.
So if we want to keep fighting sin in battle with sin, and if you want to become anything in your life for Jesus you will need to keep fighting. What are the 12 steps towards killing off sin?
1. DECIDE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Victory over sin starts with a decision. If you are content to just continue with your sin, if you are content to sear or dull your conscience and let it all slide along, you will never have victory over the sin that is destroying you. You have to decide, enough is enough.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong's)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
Contentment is the enemy of improvement, so victory over sin starts with a decision, a decision that you are not content to be ruled by your sin, to not accept the status quo. A decision to change is required, that enough is enough, and I want better!
2. CONFESS YOUR SIN
1 John 1:8-9 (ESV Strong's)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Don’t ignore your sin, and don’t excuse it away. God will not zap you, fry you or embarrass you, just confess your sin and let Him forgive you. Murder, lust, greed, it doesn’t matter what it is, He promises that if you confess your sin He will forgive you, so take Him at His Word and do it!
3. ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUSTS
I remember chasing my kids, and they would scream and run away, crying “Don’t! Stop!” When I did stop, they would walk back closer and closer to try and make me chase then again. Their “Don’t! Stop!” Became, “Don’t stop!”
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV Strong's)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
John MacArthur gives simple but profound advice on killing off sin… “Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter does not prescribe a program of therapy. He does not suggest that such sin be treated as an addiction. He simply says abstain. Quit doing it. You have no business indulging such thoughts. Put them away at once.” [i]
My family had a cattle farm in Maryborough, and we also agisted cattle. We sent those cows off to the butcher and felt nothing, but our house cows, the ones we grew up with, and cuddled and cared for, these we could never butcher! While ever you dabble in sin, flirt with it or mollycoddled it, while ever you cuddle it, care for it or enjoy it, you will never kill it! To kill off sin, you not only need to stop it, but you also need to avoid not entertain it in the battle with sin!
4. MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH
We may stop actually doing a sin, but we often kind of leave the door open to doing it in the battle with sin!
Romans 13:14 (ESV Strong's)
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
In other words refuse to accommodate in any way anything that might lead you back into that sin! If you don’t want to fall, don’t walk where it is slippery. If you have an issue with gluttony, don’t pile up your supermarket trolley with junk food. If you have an issue with lust, don’t surf porn sites. If you have an issue with gossip, walk away from people sharing secrets with you.
By doing this, you cut off sin before it gets the chance to grow and breed. It is easier to pull out a baby tree than cut down the fully grown specimen!
5. FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS
Whatever you look at determines what you become, because as Jesus said,
Luke 11:34 (ESV Strong's)
Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.
If you look at porn you will lust. If you watch violent movies or play violent computer games you will get angrier. If you hang around pubs you will drink. If you hang around church, you will grow more Christlike.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong's)
we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV Strong's)
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith
So to kill off sin in this battle with sin, don’t constantly look at it, don’t hang around it, don’t entertain it and don’t camp outside it’s lair. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus, and on things eternal, for whatever you look at you become…
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
6. FILL YOUR MIND WITH GOODNESS IN THE BATTLE WITH SIN
If you decide not to look at sin or anything leading to it, where do you look. It’s like when Fiona and I are shopping and she takes me into a lingerie store… I don’t know where to look, where to stand, and anything you do, you’re going to look like a pervert!
Philippians 4:8 (ESV Strong's)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Job 31:1 (ESV Strong's)
“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
So look away from sin, and fill your mind with Jesus and with good and godly things… Christian or wholesome teaching, books, videos, music, TV shows, and in particular…
7. FILL YOUR HEART WITH GOD’S WORD
Psalms 119:9-11 (ESV Strong's)
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Reading the Bible every day, coming to a Bible preaching church, memorising Bible passages, do whatever you can to focus on the Word of God, and fill your heart with His Word!
I read and even memorise God’s Word a lot. I am amazed at how often God’s Word comes out of my mouth in general conversation.
The next step is…
8. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
You cannot live a triumphant life over sin without prayer. Many know this verse, but note context…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV Strong's)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Being in a constant state of prayer is an awesome way to kill off sin and its effects in your life in the battle with sin. Notice the preceding and following verses? Praying constantly is about rejoicing and giving thanks constantly too! A gratitude attitude, being thankful for everything you have, is a great way to kill off the effects of sin and help you focus on Jesus and eternal things.
9. GUARD YOUR HEART
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV-WS)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
You can have a few victories over sin, but you will not kill it unless you remain on guard against it. The enemy will not take your desire for holiness in your life lying down! The devil has a habit of dressing up sin and reintroducing it. So you need to guard your heart!
10. DISCIPLINE YOURSELF
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (ESV Strong's)
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
No athlete, or artist, or musician or Christian becomes great without discipline. We live in a society that applauds discipline for athletes, yet excuses lack of discipline in more important aspects of life. Top athletes are excused for misdemeanours in bars or on the road. Politicians with sordid personal lives are celebrated if they make the country prosperous.
To be victorious over sin in your life, you need to become disciplined. Hebrews explains…
Hebrews 12:11 (ESV Strong's)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discipline is painful, it takes time, effort and true commitment, but the long term gains are amazing, and allow you to kill off areas of sin in your life to a large degree. It takes time, and discipline to reach everything God has destined for you to be in your life, but this leads to…
11. RENEW YOUR MIND- CREATE NEW HABITS
Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong's)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As you fill your mind with the things of God, especially the Word of God, your mind is being renewed day by day. Renewing of your mind is not simply a mental exercise, it must have a practical outworking. Renewing of your mind causes you to break old, destructive habits and establish new, righteous habits.
A habit is an series of actions you repeatedly do until they become automatic. Any addiction is really a powerful bad habit, be it drug, alcohol, porn, spending, gossiping, anger outbursts or gambling! But you can dismantle bad habits and build good habits that enhance your life rather than destroy it. Our society loves to call things addictions and enslave people forever, but my experience is that God can break bad habits, and He can also establish good ones, as your mind is renewed.
Latest research indicates that it takes around 66 days to break a bad habit or establish a new one. [ii]
When God breaks a habit off your life it can be very quick, because His Spirit can destroy the works of the enemy. One thing is for sure… if you decide in your heart to form a good habit, such as reading the Bible every morning, it can be a powerful force in your life. I personally discovered this when at University I attended a Navigator’s group and signed a pledge called, “No Bible, no breakfast.” This commitment led to me reading God’s Word first thing almost every day, and hardly ever eating breakfast!
12. DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT
I know sin and the devil are mighty adversaries, and relentless foes, but my Bible says,
1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong's)
he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
In the battle with sin, sin will fight, he will fight dirty, he will use underhanded tactics, he will be relentless, he will tempt and call and flirt and suck you in. You will have times of great victories, then some defeat will drag you back down. You will break some bad habits, and not others. But through it all, no matter what happens, stand strong, gather around people who love and support you and in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” You will get tired of fighting, it will sometimes seem that all is lost, that the sin is winning, that troubles are never ending, but that is when you have to focus on Christ, resist the enemy and decide to fight on!
James 4:7 (ESV Strong's)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This is the promise… resist him, and because he is a coward, he will just flee from you.
The original Rocky movie is the story of a fighter who rises up the ranks to become champion of the world, then, in all the luxury and comfort of the victories, he loses his edge, and his title. His trainer decides to take him back to the smelly alley and leaky taps, back to where he came from, and over time he puts the fight back into the fighter.
So when it comes to sin, don’t lose the fight, don’t lose the desire to win against a merciless and destructive foe! Never give up, never give an inch, resist, and see him flee! It is time to put the fight back into the fighter!
1 John 3:9 (ESV Strong's)
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
Today I speak to those who are tired of this battle with sin, run down and sick of struggling with sin and with life. I say to you, stand strong,
fight hard, form the right habits, resist and stand firm, knowing that the Lord is in us and He is greater than the enemy in the battle with sin!
Our society may have given into sin on so many levels, but now is not the time to roll over and accept it as normal. Now is the time to stand up and declare that we will not go quietly, we will stand for what is right and godly in this world, and by God we will win!
Killing off sin in the battle with sin is not about seeking legalistic righteousness, it’s not about judgement of others, or forcing obedience to laws, it’s about seeking God with all your heart and seeking holiness in Him. You cannot be holy, but you can decide to yield to Him and let ahis holiness dwell in you!
Today, if you are tired of fighting, I want to pray with you and stand with you.
Today we join our shields together.
[i] Vanishing conscience Chapter 7