written by Meini Cheng
In His lovingkindness and mercy, God does not leave His children in their sin. I know this to be true in my own life; time after time, God convicts me of my sin and demonstrates His abounding grace.
This abounding grace came to me first when I heard the gospel, and this abounding grace continues to keep and sustain me today as I daily need the gospel. It’s God’s grace that allows us to fight sin, and it’s God’s grace that motivates us to fight sin.
These are 3 things about sin that I’ve been learning:
Sin is very attractive to our flesh and to our sinful hearts. Though you may be a Christian, you are not immune to sin. Sin is ugly, but to a sinful heart, sin can look very attractive. That’s why we must be wary and alert.
Galatians 5:19-21 says “…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”
These things are obviously not attractive. But my heart, in its sinful and broken nature, is very attracted to those things. In particular, my heart is prone to fits of anger. When I think about and plan something carefully, and that something goes completely wrong, my inherent reaction is anger. My sin tells me that it’s so comfortable, so right, so easy to dwell in my anger, self-pity, and discontentment.
Colossians 3:5 is so clear in telling us, “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Once again, none of those things are objectively attractive. Yet my sinful heart is drawn to idolatry–it loves to covet what I don’t have.
The point is: sin is attractive to sinful hearts, so you must be watchful. Why? Because sin will kill you.
James 1:14-16 says “…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
The words of John Owen really stick with me: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” In my own life, I have seen my sin killing me, in the sense that living in sin kills my intimacy with Christ. Being okay with my sin, rather than actively killing it, completely diminishes my desire to know God, to obey God, and to glorify God, and my ability to do any of that. Living in sin is not only deeply detrimental to my soul, but it also renders me useless for God’s kingdom.
What immediately follows the words in Galatians 5:21, which we just looked at, is this: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We all know that it’s impossible to serve two masters. You cannot, cannot, cannot live in sin and live in obedience to God, at the same time. Your love for sin will kill your love for God, and your obedience to that sin will wipe out your obedience to God. Your trust in your sin will destroy your trust in God, because each time you choose that sin, you are spitting in the face of God’s promises.
So this is one reason why God’s grace toward us is abounding, immense, and marvelous. Yes, God’s grace toward us was abounding, immense, and marvelous at salvation, when we were saved, when God reached down to scoop us up as we were running hard towards hell.
But even now, as Christians, God’s grace toward us is abounding, immense, and marvelous each day, as God sanctifies us. Instead of leaving you in your sin, God is faithful to you (Philippians 1:6) and He uses His Word, the church, and brothers and sisters-in-Christ to convict and strengthen you in the fight against sin.
And there is so much hope in that fight, because Jesus Christ has already had victory over death. And Christ is our perfect example in our daily fight against sin. Because of Christ, sin has no hold over you.
Sin has no hold over you, because if you are in Christ, then you have been set free from sin (Romans 6:6-11). Christ has victory over sin and over death, and that victory is imparted to you. Knowing that we have been freely given victory over sin, we are able to daily fight sin with all that we’ve got. The victory already belongs to Christ and to us.
2 Peter 1:3-4 tells us that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and we are lacking nothing. In God’s good and loving provision, He has equipped us with everything we need to fight sin and live in a godly manner. Not only have we been set free from the power of sin, we are fully equipped to fight sin in our daily lives. Sin has zero hold over us, now that we are in Christ.
At salvation, when God forgives your sin, it is completely permanent. Your past sins are permanently wiped away. When God looks at you, He no longer sees those past sins. As the hymn “It Is Well” goes: “My sin–not in part but the whole–is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more…praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
When we are saved, all our sins–past, present, and future–are forgiven. But as we see in 1 John 1:9, we are to confess our sins and God is faithful and just to forgive us. Though we are saved, we still sin in our daily lives, and therefore we are to confess, repent, and kill that sin. Pastor John MacArthur says that “true believers are habitual confessors who therefore demonstrate that their sins are continually being forgiven…The on-going confession does not bring justification, the on-going confession is related to sanctification.”
Because of all these things, because sin has no hold over us, we can put our all into fighting and killing sin. And we can look to Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who is our perfect joy, motivation, and example.
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