Sin: The Christian’s Constant Enemy

Posted on October 24, 2018

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By David Ettinger

Sin Never Dies
On the surface, it is unfortunate that God, at the moment we were saved, decided to leave our fleshly desires intact. In other words, He chose not to make us instantly resistant to sin. Because of this, in this worldly existence, sin never dies; it is the preeminent enemy of the Christian, and the sooner we understand this, the better off we are.

In my younger years (I came to Christ in 1986), I begged God to take away my sinful desires, a plea I’m sure has been echoed by millions before and after. “After all,” I would remind my Creator, “You are the one who has called me to holiness [1 Peter 1:15-16], sinrighteousness [Philippians 1:11], and purity [1 Peter 3:2]. How am I supposed to do all that when You neglected to make substantial upgrades in my flesh? Really, Lord, I can use a little help here.”

I have come down quite significantly from such accusatory language, but I must admit that remnants of such thoughts remain. Nevertheless, I have come to accept the unavoidable truth that so long as we breathe in this fallen world, we will always be at war with our age-old enemy.

A Helpful Verse
One verse in particular has greatly aided me in my struggle, 1 Peter 2:11: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”

One truth I glean from this wonderful verse is that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not “residents” of this world. Philippians 3:20 says: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” When that glorious day – the return of Christ – arrives, we will inherit new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:52-54), and sin will no longer hold sway over us.

Until then, however, we struggle. The apostle Paul astutely writes:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me (Romans 7:21-23).

Ugh, what a condition we live in! Paul was so distressed over it that he added: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (v. 24).

Fighting the Fight
What Christian does not echo Paul’s lament? After all, as the above 1 Peter 2:11 tells us, we all possess “sinful desires.” And not only do all Christians possess “sinful desires,” these fiends never rest; they go at it 24/7, their objective to “wage war against your soul.”

resistYet, Peter tells us to “abstain” from them. If you think about it, there is great hope here. After all, God would not command us to do something that cannot be done. If He tells us to “abstain from sinful desires,” it must mean that it is possible for us to successfully do so. Indeed, it is possible! When Paul cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” He also provided the answer in the very next verse: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

“Okay,” you may be thinking, “that’s great, but how do I do it?” One of the great verses in the fight against sin is 1 Corinthians 10:13, and I strongly urge you to memorize it: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Note the elements at work here. First, you are assured that no temptation out of the ordinary will ever seize you; you face the same temptations that have plagued humanity since the Creation. Second, know that once temptation hits you, God leaps into action, providing “a way out.” What is this way out? I don’t know, but God always offers you a countermeasure to your temptation.

flowersMore strategy is offered in Philippians 4:8. The next time you find yourself battling temptation, do what this verse says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Committing your thoughts to that which is noble, pure, and lovely will certainly drive sinful thoughts away.

And one other thing, especially if you have succumbed to sin: God knows your struggle and wants you to pick yourself up. Paul admonishes: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Note the words “straining” and “press on”; it won’t be easy, but it can be done.

Forging On
The war against sin rages on, and we forge on for the sake of our Lord and Savior who “called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:11). Remember, God is shaping and molding us, always refining us that we will “be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

I wish you the best, fellow soldier, as we continue to wage war against that heinous foe which so fiercely wages war against us. Thankfully, our Savior has equipped us well, giving us everything need to win the war!