There is much debate and confusion within Christianity as to whether we need to or even if it is possible to overcome sin in this life. Some say we are now free from the law because of the cross of Christ, others say we must still obey the law because it is still in effect, still others claim that if we attempt to keep the law, we are no longer under grace, and are still lost, trusting in our own works.
Surely, there must be in all of this hodge podge of belief and confusing doctrine on such an important matter, some truth to be found. What does the Bible say?
Here is my take on the matter.
I am convinced that it certainly is possible to overcome sin, that this is accomplished by faith in the promises of God, (just as Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness:
And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
and I also think that this life of sanctification (a constant living in victory over sin) is :
1. Living the character of Christ (being conformed to His image) and
2. Is conformable to the moral law of Ten Commandments.
That we all must determine in our hearts to stop sinning is a given. Jesus said that we must first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.To gain entry to heaven and live holy lives go hand in hand.
The care we must take in our determination to stop sinning,is to tread a fine line between ‘legalism’ and true faith. We cannot do away with the law because without the law, there is no knowledge of sin. Nor can we ignore the law in our quest for righteousness, because it is the standard that God has given us by which we determine our true state.
Paul tells us “for sin shall not have dominion over you,” for ye are not under law, but under grace” Romans 6:14. Dominion is akin to a ruling power, and in sin’s case, a tyrant. So we have a promise to hold on to. Elsewhere he says “let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof ” Romans 6:12…reign in this case is literally kingly rule. So, where once we were under the tyrannical rule of sin, the inference is that once we are crucified in Christ, buried and raised with Him in baptism, the roles are reversed. We now have dominion and rule over sin. Whether to sin or not has become a matter of choice, a matter of our will. It is through our connection with divine power …..
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 ¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
….that we have this new ability to overcome, and when we do, we are no longer “under the law”. We have a choice of masters. We can serve sin, which leads to death, or we can serve righteousness, which leads to eternal life. Obedience is the key to both. Who do we surrender to as servants to obey? And what is it that we obey? It is true doctrine, correct teaching.
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleaness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”
What fruit had ye in those things of which ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” Romans 6:19-21
And there is the key to overcoming sin.Yielding to God. Surrender. Surrender to God with the desire, even passion for righteousness, (Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled,) a hatred for sin, using the “law lawfully”, that is, using the law as your yardstick as to whether or not your life is going in the right direction, and whether your relationship with God is as it should be. We surrender, God makes the changes in us that conform to His law, by writhing that law upon our own hearts and minds. God promises that we “are to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29 ) That law that He writes upon our hearts is the law of love. Christ’s own character of love shared abroad by the Spirit of God in us fulfills the law of Ten Commandments. All this is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in us. We receive Christ’s righteousness by receiving Him.
Notice in that Paul’s analogy of sin being a master or king, there is absolutely no middle ground between our choosing to serve sin or righteousness. It is either one or the other. There can be no compromise.