Every believer in Jesus has struggled to quit sinning at some point. Things you don’t want to do, you seem to migrate toward. Things you do want to do, you seem helpless to carry out. It feels a bit like being trapped. Still, you want to please God and live a good life.
There was a famous person who struggled to quit sinning. And they figured it out.
Last article, we explored The Sin List. And we concluded every person has some kind of list. That’s why every person needs a Savior. This article explores the promised reality that you (and I) can quit sinning. Plus, we’ll look at some promises and resources to help.
So, I am saying – YES – it is possible to quit sinning – increasingly!
That Famous Guy Who Struggled
You probably know who this is before I write the name. It’s a man – well-known around the world. His impact and influence for Jesus has been astronomical. Through this man, many people have learned to live by faith and “get free.” God used this fellow to be a game-changer in the spiritual health and practical success of God’s people. His name? Paul! The Apostle Paul had issues with the sin struggle. Listen to his own words –
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 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? . . .
. . . Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:21-25)
Did you know Paul had a sin problem after he became a believer? Did you further know he struggled? His struggle and what he discovered has become a critical piece in “getting free.” Now believers have a powerful, practical process to overcome a very real problem.
Paul goes right for the jugular in most of his writings – something I appreciate increasingly as I grow in my faith in Jesus. His writings have become “go-to-passages” for me.
Paul gained deeper understanding of the conflict inside believers as they take steps beyond salvation and into discipleship. That entire process hadn’t been clearly laid out before. Yet through Paul’s struggle and findings, we now have a resource to use. I’m confident this was God’s plan.
Paul said a lot of bold things. In past years reading his letters, I’d felt he is somewhat brash – “in your face.” Here is one example of many. He said something to this effect. “The law is perfect and good. You are not perfect and good. You’ve been sold out to the dark side!” (Please keep in mind this is a paraphrase of Rom.7:14)
Oh dear! Sold out to the dark side.
Who sold you out? Then comes the terrible realization: You did! Now your existence is constant tension – wanting to do what is right, but constantly not! Desiring to do good, but doing bad. You feel miserable and frustrated as this tension mounts inside and time stacks up in years. “What a wretched person I am!” SOMEBODY HELP! (another paraphrase of Paul’s desperate words in Rom.7:24)
This Is A Believer Trying To Quit Sinning
We are talking about a believer here, not a non-Christian. But this believer feels trapped. Imprisoned. If you are this person, and if you are willing to follow a simple action plan, you’ll discover Paul’s secret to change things. You’ll also discover some things are free, and other things cost everything you have – if you want to succeed. The secret – Paul figured it out and included it in his many letters in Scripture. God wanted Paul to be His voice.
What Is Free, And What Is Not?
Salvation Is Free
Yes, that’s the good news. Salvation is free! It’s an exchange arranged by the Trinity before creation and carried out by Jesus. In a nutshell: The Big Transfer – your sins onto Christ and His righteousness onto you. This salvation is free to you. It was not free to Jesus. It cost Him everything He had – His very life! But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
This message is what Paul is famous for in every letter. In fact, he really “bangs” on this critical turning point in a believer’s experience – Discipleship Is NOT free! It costs everything you have – your very life!
Becoming like Jesus is now your work. (Phil. 2:12c) This work should consume you as your new, permanent passion. Here’s why. God provided all you need to live free from the deceit and trickery of the enemy. That terrible deceit/trickery approach the enemy used caused the human race to fall. But God loves you with everlasting love. He will never stop loving you. God wants you free! And so, Jesus agreed to come to earth, become one of us, and take on the punishment of following the enemy.
You Have A Decision To Make
On one hand, you have a guy who hates you, will do anything to trip you up, and will laugh while you fail and break apart. On the other hand, you have a Guy who loves you, will do anything to save you, and will rejoice with you as you learn to live above the brokenness of this life. You get to choose who you will follow. The “small g guy” or “capital G Guy.”
So you must decide. God gave you a free will and has no intention of taking that precious gift away from you. Still, He deeply desires that you use your free will to choose freedom, joy, and life! An Alive and Active Life!
You owe Jesus a debt of love for His sacrifice. Will that sacrifice be in vain for you? Likely, you are a believer – so you’ve made the first decision to trust Jesus. But – have you decided to give your all to Him? Are you a living sacrifice every day? (Rom. 12:1) If you have not surrendered completely to Jesus, you will continue to fail – because you still think sin is an option. You don’t yet consider yourself dead to sin.
The Action Plan To Quit Sinning
This is your application section for today’s content. These helpful action steps empower you to quit sinning. Take it from Paul. These work.
- Pause – Slow down so you can think and pray.
- Listen – Be quiet and attentive with a teachable heart to hear God’s still small voice.
- Admit – Humble yourself. Call your issue what it really is. For example – “I’m still tricking myself. Making wrong choices. Because I think I still have an option to sin.” OR “I’m frozen because I’m afraid I will fail.”
- Accept Truth. Here’s how you do that. First, stop thinking incorrectly. Second, think God’s way. Third, ask critical questions. So, put another way – be hard on yourself in the right way. Here are some examples of good questions:
- Do I really love Jesus – more than my own pleasures, plans, and life – or is my heart divided?
- Am I carrying out His wishes over my own? Is my goal to serve Him entirely?
- When I trusted Jesus to forgive my sins and give me eternal life, do I realize Jesus became my Lord – my Master?
- Am I committed to let God restore me to His original plan? Created by God, for God, belonging to God.
A Success Strategy: No Longer An Option!
Sin was not part of God’s plan. Jesus broke sin’s power at the cross. The option to sin is not true! Here’s why. Since my sinful nature died with Christ on the cross (accept by faith), and since my original nature rose with Christ from the grave (accept by faith), I must now consider myself dead to sin because sin is technically dead! Jesus took care of it on the cross. Otherwise, I live in a “make-believe world,” instead of the reality of the cross. And the cross happened! Since Jesus changed everything, I must learn to think differently. Consider this: Success starts to come when you tell yourself, “This choice is no longer an option!” This will take TPT:
- TIME to retrain my mind.
- PRACTICE, and I will likely mess up along the way.
- TRANSFORMATION. Resolve – I will not stop until this process becomes my reality. Transformation takes place by renewing your mind. (Rom. 12:2)
When sin is dead, it has no power over you. It feels great to be free! You are “perfect by faith” in Jesus as you resolve to practice and change behaviors. No more excuses. Time to do what’s right! What is real! What will last!
When you really commit to this action plan, aligning every thought, attitude, word, and deed, you still may fail on occasion. But that will diminish. If you sin, confess it, and ask forgiveness. There is provision for that – through Jesus. Then get right back to working out your salvation.
There is no provision for perpetual, purposeful sin!
Article developed from Romans 7:14-25 – explored more in It’s Your Move: Strategies In Thinking.