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How can I overcome sin in my Christian life?

The Bible talks about the following resources that we have to overcome our sinfulness:

(1) The Holy Spirit - One gift that God has given us (His church) to be victorious in
Christian living is the Holy Spirit. God contrasts the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the
Spirit in Galatians 5:16-25. In that passage we are called upon to walk in the Spirit. "All
believers already possess the Holy Spirit, but this passage tells us that we need to walk in
the Spirit, yielding to His control. This means choosing to put "shoe leather" to the Holy
Spirit's promptings in our lives rather than following the flesh.

The difference that the Holy Spirit can make in a believer's life is demonstrated in the life
of Peter, who before being filled with the Holy Spirit denied Jesus three times, and this
after he had said he would follow Christ to the death. After being filled, he spoke openly
and strongly to the Jews at Pentecost of the Savior.

One walks in the Spirit as he tries not to "put a lid" on the Spirit's promptings
("quenching the Spirit" as spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 5:19) and seeks instead to be
filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21). How is one filled with the Holy Spirit? First of
all, it is of God's choosing even as it was in the Old Testament. He selected individuals
and specific incidents in the Old Testament to fill individuals He chose to accomplish a
work that He wanted done (Genesis 41:38; Exodus 31:3; Numbers 24:2; 1 Samuel 10:10;
etc.) I believe that there is evidence in Ephesians 5:18-21 and Colossians 3:16 that God
chooses to fill those who are filling themselves with the Word of God as evidenced by the
fact the the result of each filling in those verses is similar. Thus, that brings us to our next
resource.

(2) The Word of God, the Bible - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that God has given us His
Word to equip us for every good work. It teaches us how to live and what to believe, it
reveals to us when we have chosen wrong paths to take, it helps us get back on the right
path, and helps us to stay on that path. As Heb. 4:12 shares, it is living and powerful and
is able to penetrate to our hearts to root out the deepest of problems that humanly
speaking cannot be overcome. The psalmist talks about its life-changing power in Psalm
119:9,11,105 and other verses. Joshua was told that the key to his success in overcoming
his enemies (an analogy to our spiritual battle) was to not forget this resource but rather
to meditate on it day and night so that he could observe it. This he did, even when what
God commanded him did not make military sense, and this was the key to his victory in
His battle for the Promised Land.

This resource is commonly one that we treat in a trivial fashion. We give token service to
it by carrying our Bibles to church or reading a daily devotional or a chapter a day, but
we fail to memorize it, meditate on it, looking for application in our lives, confessing sins
it reveals, praising God for the gifts it reveals He has given us. We are often either
anorexic or bulimic when it comes to the Bible. We either intake just enough to keep us
alive spiritually by eating from the Word just when we go to church (but never ingesting
enough to be healthy, thriving Christians) or we come to feed often but never meditating
on it long enough to get spiritual nutrition from it.

It is important that if you have not made a habit of studying God's Word on a daily basis
in a meaningful way, and of memorizing it as you come across passages the Holy Spirit
impresses upon your heart, that you begin making a habit of it. I also suggest you start a
journal (either on computer if you type faster than you write) or in a spiral bound
notebook, etc. Make it a habit to not leave the Word until you have written down
something you gained from it. I often record prayers to God asking Him to help me
change in the areas that He has spoken to me about as well. The Bible is the tool that the
Spirit uses in our lives and others' lives (Ephesians 6:17), an essential and major part of
the armor that God gives us to fight our spiritual battles (Ephesians 6:12-18)!

(3) Prayer - This is another essential resource that God has given. Again, it is a resource
that Christians often give lip service to but make poor use of. We have prayer meetings,
times of prayer, etc., but we do not find the use of it that the early church gives examples
of (Acts 3:1; 4:31; 6:4;13:1-3, etc.). Paul repeatedly mentions how he prayed for those he
ministered to. Nor do we, when we are by ourselves, use this great resource that is
available to us. But God has given us wonderful promises concerning prayer (Matthew
7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8; John 6:23-27; 1 John 5:14-15, etc.). And again, Paul includes it in
his passage on preparing for spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:18)!

How important is it? When you look again at Peter, you have Christ's words to him in the
Garden of Gethsemane before Peter's denial. There, as Jesus is praying, Peter is sleeping.
Jesus wakes him up and says, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the
spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). You, like Peter, want to
do what is right but are not finding the strength. We need to follow God's admonition to
keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking...and He will give us the strength that we need
(Matthew 7:7f.). But we need to give more than simple lip service to this resource.

I am not saying that prayer is magical. It is not. God is awesome. Prayer is simply
acknowledging our own limitations and God's inexhaustible power and turning to Him
for that strength to do what HE wants us to do (not what WE want to do) (1 John 5:14-
15).

(4) The Church - This last resource is again one that we tend to ignore. When Jesus sent
His disciples out, He sent them out two by two (Matthew 10:1). When we read about the
missionary journeys in Acts, they did not go out one at a time, but in groups of two or
more. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in their
midst (Matthew 18:20). He commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves
together as was the manner of some but to use that time for encouraging one another in
love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). He tells us to confess our faults to one another
(James 5:16). In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, we are told that as iron
sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17) "A
threefold cord is not easily broken." There is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).

Some that I know have found brothers in Christ or sisters in Christ (if you are a female)
who get together by phone or in person and share how they are doing in their Christian
walk, how they may have struggled, etc. and commit to pray for each other and hold each
other accountable in applying God's Word to their relationships, etc.

Sometimes change comes quickly. Sometimes, in other areas, it comes more slowly. But
God has promised us that as we make use of His resources, He WILL bring about change
in our lives. Persevere knowing that He is faithful to His promises!

~~Mail to: jeberson@joannaministries.com

~~ Visit: http://joannaministries.com/