This is the ninth post in the “Battle for Your Mind” series. Click here to view the previous post.
THE BATTLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS
THE VICTORY OF BEING IN CHRIST
If I were to ask you, “Do you want to sin?” what would you say? Maybe you would have to stop a minute and think. “No, I don’t want to sin, but I do want to do the things that are labeled as sin.”
How would you answer this question?
It’s like saying that I want to lose weight, but I also want to eat junk food. I want them both, but I can’t have it both ways.
When we have a strong desire for something, it is very hard to fight against it. That is why we sin. Our desire for what is wrong becomes stronger than our desire for what is right.
Have you ever got so mad at someone that you said something you regretted? You probably knew as you were saying it that it was wrong, but your emotions were in control and you said it anyway.
Some people picture this fight as a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, each trying to influence us. Each is equal but we have to make the final choice.
Maybe that’s how it is for unsaved people. Their desires fight against their conscience and it proves to be a struggle. But did you know that as a Christian you have all the power necessary to do what is right?
How do we do it?
The answer is simple. Just realize who you are!
Understand your identity in Christ
Do you know who you are?
For a few years we bought family passes to a local children’s museum. The main reason we did this was that the membership was reciprocal with several other museums around the nation. As we traveled, we were able to get into these museums for free.
As we approached the desk in any of the participating locations, the clerks were ready to tell us what we were supposed to pay. However, as soon as we flashed our membership card, they knew we were “in the elite group” that didn’t have to pay.
If I pulled out my wallet, they would pleasantly say, “Sir, you don’t have to pay.” However, if I kept insisting, they would probably reach the point of exasperation and scream out, “Don’t you understand who you are? You are part of the group that doesn’t have to pay. Other people do, but you don’t!”
Imagine how freeing it would be when I finally realize that I don’t have to pay. I have an honored position!
Did you know that when you became saved, you were put into an “elite group?”
Membership in this elite group does not get you into museums for free, but it does allow you to be free from bondage to sin.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
What does it mean, though, to be “in Christ?” Is this just a theological term that doesn’t mean a whole lot, or does it apply practically to us in some way?
To be “in Christ” means that our experiences and those of Christ are melded together as one.
When I got married, my wife came into my family. She took on my name, everything I owned became hers, and she acquired another set of parents and grandparents, brothers, and sisters. She is welcome wherever I am welcome. When we go to visit my family, they don’t tell her to get a hotel because she’s not one of the family. She is just as much family as I am.
That is what we have in Christ. We get what He has.
This has many practical ramifications. For example, because we are in Christ, we can approach the Father boldly in prayer. Because we are in Christ, we can expect a great inheritance.
What I want to focus on now, however, is how being in Christ helps us in our battle against sin.
To understand this completely, we need to look at Romans 6.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1-2)
That is a good question. If we are “dead to sin,” why do we keep sinning?
Maybe we need to back up a step first. Maybe you have never thought about being “dead to sin.” How did that happen? The answer is given in verse three.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)
At the time of salvation, you were immersed (baptized) into the body of Christ, joining with Him in His death. You have become “in Christ.”
Now we are brothers. Now we are identified with Him. Now we get what He gets.
What do we get? A new life.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
We discard our old life and get a new one. The “old man” is crucified. He is dead. Therefore, we no longer have to do what he wants. We are free from sin.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)
When you became a believer, you became a new person. You are no longer ruled by sin. Because you are still living in your body, there is still temptation. However, you are much more than a mortal body. You have a new life and therefore do not have to give in to temptation.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Romans 6:12)
If we do not have to sin, why do we find ourselves continuing to do so?
The problem is that we have not truly grasped the concept that we no longer have to obey sin.
Train your mind to believe the truth
I worked for a couple of summers during college at a factory. While there, I had to submit to my boss. However, what would be my response if I were to walk into the building today and my former supervisor handed me a broom? I would have a choice to make. I could submit if I wanted to, but I could also turn around and leave. He is no longer my authority so it is up to me whether or not I obey.
If I started going back there every day, eventually another employee might come up to me and say, “You do realize that you don’t work here any more, don’t you?”
That is exactly what Paul is doing telling the Romans in this passage. You don’t work for sin any more. So don’t do what it commands!
In verse eleven, Paul shares the secret for staying out of sin.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11)
Although some versions of the Bible replace the word “reckon” with such acceptable words as “consider” (ESV, NASB) or “count yourself” (NIV), my days of living in the south make the word “reckon” perfectly understandable. While I may have to explain this word to those who live in the north, in the south it is used every day. For example, if you ask someone if they are going to work tomorrow, they may answer, “Yeah, I reckon.” Translation for Yankees: “To the best of my understanding, that is what is going to happen.”
The actual Greek word used here means “to take inventory.” You look at all the facts, and you come to a conclusion. You “reckon” something.
What facts do we consider that allow us to conclude that we are “dead indeed unto sin?”
Fact #1: You have died with Jesus.
Fact #2: You have risen to a new life with Jesus.
Fact #3: Sin no longer has power over you.
If you carefully consider these truths, you also will “reckon” that you are dead to sin!
It is unfortunate that we have too many Christians muddling through life thinking that they are doomed to sin. They carry a dark cloud of hopeless misery over their heads.
You have more power than that! Sure, the Bible is clear that as long as we are in the flesh we will have sin (because we allow ourselves to succumb to temptation). However, as a Christian, you have been given power that is much greater than temptation. In Christ, you have the authority to say “no” to sin. The problem is that we often do not realize that we have this ability.
Several months ago the cruise control stopped working in my car. Cruise control is, of course, a luxury, but one sure gets used to it. Every time I drove, I resolved that I would get it fixed, but as soon as I got out of the car, I would promptly forget about it. For a several months we lived with it, and finally I decided to get it fixed. I determined which part was causing the problem and went online to order it. However, while searching for it, I came across something I didn’t know.
Apparently some brainless engineer decided that it would be a good idea to put a toggle switch for the cruise way down in the corner of the dash. Never having read the manual, I didn’t know it was there. Somehow it had gotten bumped and turned off. All I had to do was know it was there and turn it back on.
Everything was in working order. The only problem was that I did not realize how to make it work.
What I am trying to do is help you to realize that as a Christian, you have what you are looking for. Your struggle against sin may be much more difficult because you are not using the power that God has given to you.
In Christ, you have the power to fight against sin. Rather than trying your best to “hang in until the end,” understand that you can live in victory.
Click here to view the next section, “The Battle for Your Habits: Breaking the Bondage to Habitual Sins.”