I would say that one of the top questions with many believers is “How do I overcome sinful behavior and live a holy life???” At least it was for me. I was trying and trying to overcome destructive behaviors and addictions, on my own, with no success. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions, up and down, leading me back to square one with the same problems. Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord! See it’s not how we overcome sin, but who has already overcome it. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom 8:2).
The problem above without the solution below will lead to depression. Believe me, I have been there. Why is that? See as born again Christians, it is no longer our nature to sin. Let me explain…”Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). What passed away and what new thing came? Believe it or not, you were a sinner because Adam sinned, not because you sinned. “Because of one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience, many were made sinners” (Rom 5:19). So, as a sinner, it was your nature to sin. For example…I didn’t choose to be a male…it’s just who I am…therefore I act like one. However, when you said yes to Jesus, that nature died, and you were resurrected in the likeness of Christ (Rom 6:5). Since Jesus is Holy (3X), your nature is now holiness. “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).
Well then, why do we continue to sin if is no longer our nature to so? Let’s take a look at what Peter has to say in the verses below…
2 Peter 1:5-9 – In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So Peter says that we fail to live a holy life because we have forgotten that our sins are forgiven.
What about Paul?…
Titus 3:10-11 – As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Paul says that sinful people are self-condemned. So the connection is that self condemnation comes from forgetting that our sins are forgiven.
Side Note: Most Psychologists/Councilors agree that guilt and shame keep people trapped in destructive behavior (just wanted to throw that in there).
Paul dealt with this himself at one point and he talks about it in Romans 7…
Romans 7:14-25 – For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh (the part of you that wants to do wrong, the self life, aroused by the law), sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (this is depression I was talking about). But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me (the flesh). I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man (this is his holy nature, in Christ, as a believer), but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members (self-effort is hopeless). Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
*Notice that the key is not “what can I do to set me free”, but Who.
Then he starts off chapter 8 with…“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom 8:1-2).
Jesus told the lady at the well, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:11). This is the key to overcoming sin! Receive the gift of no condemnation and go and sin no more.
Check out what paul says in Hebrews 12…
Heb 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
So what is the solution to throwing off sinful behavior?…Keep your eye on Jesus! He has endured the condemnation for all our sins on the cross (past, present, and future), and sat down at the right hand of God, far above all evil (Eph 1:21). Here is the kicker…God seated us with Him, in Christ (Eph 2:6). We can now boldly approach the Father to find grace in need (Heb 4:16).
Focus on Jesus! Be conscious of His love for you through the forgiveness of your sins. Just as you were a sinner because of Adam’s disobedience (not because you sinned), you are now righteous because of Jesus’ obedience to the cross (Rom 5:19). Nothing can take you out of right standing with God (it’s not based on what you did or didn’t do, but what He did). Keep confessing this righteousness, in Christ (2 Cor 5:21), and that sin will effortlessly be removed from your life. One day you will wake up, and there will no longer be a desire to do it anymore.
I had my friend Travis make this sign for me. I hung it on my bedroom wall as a daily reminder.