If left unchecked, sin will destroy the most important relationship a Christian can have. Sin separates us from God, so how can we overcome sin?
The Bible tells us that sin is enticing and spiritually deadly.
James explained the process that leads to sin: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
The apostle John noted the continuing challenge of sin in 1 John 1:8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He includes himself in this statement!
True Christians are admonished to overcome and conquer sin. Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome: “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:11-12). We must not let sin continue to rule our lives.
How deadly is sin?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (verse 23). All sins are deadly. We have all earned death, but God offers life through the sacrifice of Christ.
It is a matter of either eternal life in God’s Kingdom or eternal death!
Satan was the instigator of sin
Satan lied in the Garden of Eden to convince humans to disobey—to choose the way that actually produces death. Adam and Eve’s sin and feelings of guilt led them to hide from God (Genesis 3:8).
Satan still deceives in order to lure us into sin. He possesses the ability to broadcast his destructive attitudes into our minds. He is a master of deception and the originator of lies (John 8:44), and his spirit “now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephesians 2:2-3).
God wants us to repent and draw close to Him. Our loving Father wants us to be part of His eternal family.If we are striving to obey God, rather than allowing Satan to wrongly influence our lives, there will be a daily battle going on in our minds (Galatians 5:17). We will be endeavoring to abstain “from fleshly lusts”—uncontrolled physical desires—and resisting Satan the devil (1 Peter 2:11; 5:8-9).
It will mean “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).
The process of overcoming sin, then, requires rejecting the subtleties of Satan and developing more of the mind of Christ.
Christ’s suffering teaches us an important lesson about sin
Christ’s life was worth more than all of humanity. He was sinless, yet He was willing to die to pay the penalty for all sins committed on earth. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Imagine the weight of responsibility that rested on His shoulders. Without His sacrifice, all of humanity, including you and me, would have no hope of ever having our sins forgiven and eventually receiving eternal life.
After fervently praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and then being brutally scourged, Jesus Christ was crucified. It was during this time that He uttered seven short sentences recorded in the Gospels (see “Seven Last Sayings of Jesus”).
His fourth cry is of special significance, as it pertains to the grim and serious consequences of sin. Christ uttered these words as recorded in Matthew 27:46: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying . . . ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”
Why was Jesus forsaken?
King David once wrote, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken” (Psalm 37:25). To be forsaken means to be abandoned or left helpless. Being forsaken is a horrific experience, but to be forsaken by God would be the worst!
Surely His Father had not forsaken Him, as Jesus had previously declared, “The Father has not left Me alone” (John 8:29). But at this point, God did momentarily leave Him helpless. Why?
There was a reason. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied that Jesus would take on Himself all the sins of humanity: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Therefore, since Jesus was now bearing the sins of the world, God would not intervene to ease anything associated with the penalty of sin. Sin causes suffering, and Christ bore its full weight, including the emotional trauma of comprehending how sin distances us from God!
Sin separates us from God
Sin and God are totally incompatible. Unless repented of, sin will sever the relationship and contact we have with God.
Sin separates us from God. This spiritual principle was true while God was dealing with Old Testament Israel (Deuteronomy 31:17-18). And it will continue to be true into the future (Micah 3:4).
Important facts about sin
Since sin results in alienation from our Heavenly Father, we need to understand what sin is and the consequences it carries.
- What is sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, King James Version). The opposite of sin, then, is obedience to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
- There are no exceptions with God when it comes to sin. He will not compromise with sin. That knowledge should motivate you to “not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” and to not let it “have dominion over you” (Romans 6:12, 14).
- It is sobering to consider what God means when He defines the punishment for those who deliberately and willfully persist in disobeying Him (Hebrews 10:26-31; see “What Is the Unpardonable Sin?”).
- Every time we sin, we are responsible and held accountable for the barbarous torture, suffering and ultimate death of our Savior Jesus Christ. He died for our sins!
Practical steps to overcoming sins
Considering the deadly effects of disobedience, how can we overcome sin?
- Desire to please God. The process of overcoming sin should begin with a deep-seated and genuine desire to please God. The psalmist wrote: “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:10-11). In his psalm of repentance, David recognized that all sins are committed against God: “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:3-4). We should deeply desire not to disappoint God by taking sin lightly.
- Pray. It is through prayer that we can have daily and regular contact with God. The closer we are in our walk with God, the more He will help us conquer our desires to succumb to sin.
- Study the Bible. It is by saturating our minds with the Word of God that we will be able to resist Satan’s influences and stand firmly against temptations. One way we overcome the forces of evil is to devote time daily to the study of the Bible. It means putting on “the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [margin: schemings] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
- Love not the world. The apostle Paul cautioned true Christians: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). Likewise, the apostle John warned us not to love this world or society (1 John 2:15-17). He concluded that the present world’s systems will not last: “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (verse 17).
- Receive God’s Holy Spirit. Christ dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20). Our understanding of our calling to inherit eternal life is made clearer “according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:18-19). We are sealed to ultimately inherit eternal life—and God guarantees that sealing (2 Corinthians 1:22). True Christians are not left to battle by themselves. In our time of need, our faithful High Priest is ready to help and support us (Hebrews 4:15-16). We can boldly come before His throne of mercy, and if we are genuine in our desire to obey and please God, we may rely on Him to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Important! In order to receive God’s Spirit, we must accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, repent of our sins, be baptized and have the “laying on of hands” (Hebrews 6:2). These are vital steps God requires before He will offer us His Holy Spirit.
Do you see the need to change, but wonder what to do? Then download our booklet Change Your Life, which will lead you through the biblical process of conversion, including repentance and the receiving of the Holy Spirit.
Your offer from God
God has created us with free choice, and He will not force any person to obey Him.
God wants us to repent and draw close to Him. Our loving Father wants us to be part of His eternal family. That is a goal we should all strive for, but God leaves it up to us to choose this wonderful plan and incredible future He has prepared for us.
He is ready, willing and able to assist those who genuinely seek Him (Isaiah 55:6-7).
May you be among those who do!