How Does a Christian Overcome Sin?
Currently, there is a fierce battle taking place between the flesh patterns of our old man
(which are "bent" toward sin) and the renewed spirit of our new man
(which is submissive to the Lordship of Jesus). Paul described this conflict when he said, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do"
Paul's inward man delighted to do the law of God, but another law (the law of sin) was in his physical body. He exclaimed,
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind [in the spirit] I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin"
It is important to note that not every temptation we face comes directly from the devil
; many temptations come from our own flesh patterns that we have sown (programmed) into our brain and body. You see, the flesh
has a way of remembering past footholds of sin and condemnation, and the enemy often uses these against us to try and bring us down from walking in the Spirit.
The Conflict of Two Laws
Paul goes on to describe two "laws" within us which war against each other: the law of sin and death
and the law of the Spirit of life
in Christ Jesus. The law of sin and death is like the law of gravity; it is constantly there, holding us down. We can jump, but we always come back down to the ground. This law of sin will be in our fleshly body until we die.
Fortunately, there is a greater law which God writes in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"
(Romans 8:2). This law sets us free from the law of sin and death and can be compared to the law of aerodynamics: it lets us soar like an eagle over the law of sin.
The fact is, you cannot overcome the law of sin by fleshly efforts.
No amount of self-determination or willpower can truly set you free from the bondage of sin in your flesh. However, "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us"
(Romans 8:37). In Jesus Christ
, you are not a sinner
or a slave to sin. That is because Jesus has set you free to live for Him by the power of His Spirit in you, for "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world"
(I John 4:4), and "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts"
Therefore, the members of your physical body should now become the servants of righteousness. Paul said, "for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness"
(Romans 6:19). In other words, no longer should your fleshly members
(eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, etc.) serve your former lusts and habits, but these members must be brought under subjection to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid"
(I Corinthians 6:15).
Our members must be trained to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteous-
(Romans 6:16). When we bring our bodily members under the influence of the Holy Spirit and choose not to make provision for the demands of our flesh, our bodies then become a "living sacrifice" unto God. Paul said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service"
Bringing your members under the power of the Holy Spirit requires "sowing to the spirit." Why? Because the flesh is very stubborn! Christians often struggle with sin because they keep feeding their fleshly appetites, lusts, and habits — then they wonder why their flesh has such power over them! Yes, if you sow into your flesh, it grows stronger and will ultimately reap corruption (see Galatians 6:7-9). But the opposite is true, too: if you stop
making provision for your flesh and start sowing to your spirit, you will begin reaping life and freedom in Jesus Christ. You must feed your spirit
so that it will grow stronger to overpower your flesh
— that law of sin in your members. "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof"