HOW TO OVERCOME SIN:

Overcoming.jpg

The Bible presents several different resources to aid us in our effort to overcome sin. In this lifetime, we will never be perfectly victorious over sin (1 John 1:8), but that should still be our goal. With God’s help, and by following the principles of His Word, we can progressively overcome sin and become more and more like Christ.

The first resource the Bible mentions in our effort to overcome sin is the Holy Spirit. God has given us the Holy Spirit so we can be victorious in Christian living. God contrasts the deeds of the flesh with 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 consistently follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting in our lives rather than following the flesh.

The difference the Holy Spirit can make 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 with the Spirit, he spoke openly and strongly to the Jews at Pentecost.

We walk in the Spirit as we try not to quench the Spirit’s promptings (as spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 5:19) and seek instead to be filled with the Spirit—that is, to be fully under the Spirit’s control (Ephesians 5:18–21). How is one filled with the Holy Spirit? If sin is what grieves the Spirit and hinders His filling, then obedience to God is how the filling of the Spirit is maintained. We should pray that we be filled with the Spirit, immerse ourselves in God’s Word (Colossians 3:16), and walk in obedience to God’s commands. This gives the Spirit freedom to work within our thoughts and actions.

The Word of God, the Bible, says that God has given us His Word to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It teaches us how to live and what to believe, it reveals to us when we have chosen wrong paths, it helps us get back on the right path, and it helps us to stay on that path. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful, able to penetrate to our hearts to root out and overcome the deepest sins of heart and attitude. The psalmist talks about its life-changing power in-depth in Psalm 119. Joshua was told that the key to success in overcoming his enemies was not to forget this resource but instead to meditate on it day and night and obey it. This he did, even when what God commanded did not make sense militarily, and this was the key to his victory in his battles for the Promised Land.

The Bible is a resource that we too often treat lightly. 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, or apply it to our lives; we fail to confess the sins it reveals or praise God for the gifts it reveals to us. When it comes to the Bible, we are often either anorexic or bulimic. We either take in just enough to keep us alive spiritually by eating from the Word (but never ingesting enough to be healthy, thriving Christians), or we come to feed often but never meditate on it long enough to get spiritual nutrition from it.

It is important, if you have not made a habit of daily studying and memorizing God’s Word, that you begin to do so. Some find it helpful start a journal. Make it a habit not to leave the Word until you have written down something you have gained from it. Some record prayers to God, asking Him to help them change in the areas that He has spoken to them about. The Bible is the tool the Spirit uses in our 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).

A third crucial resource in our battle against sin is prayer. 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 use prayer in the same way as the early church (Acts 3:1; 4:31; 6:4; 13:1-3). Paul repeatedly mentions how he prayed for those he ministered to. 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), and Paul includes prayer in his passage on preparing for spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:18).

How important is prayer to overcoming sin in our lives? We have Christ’s words to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before Peter’s denial. As Jesus prays, Peter is sleeping. Jesus wakes him and says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). We, 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 7:7). Prayer is not a magic formula. 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).

A fourth resource in our war to conquer sin is the church, the fellowship of other believers. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He sent them out two-by-two (Mark 6:7). The missionaries in Acts did not go out one at a time, but in groups of two or more. The Bible commands us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together but to use that time for encouraging one another in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). It 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 one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). There is strength in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).

Many Christians find that having an accountability partner can be a huge benefit in overcoming stubborn sins. Having another person who can talk with you, pray with you, encourage you, and even rebuke you is of great value. Temptation is common to us all (1 Corinthians 10:13). Having an accountability partner or an accountability group can give us the final dose of encouragement and motivation we need to overcome even the most stubborn of sins.

Sometimes victory over sin comes quickly. Other times, victory comes more slowly. God has promised that as we make use of His resources, He will progressively bring about change in our lives. We can persevere in our efforts to overcome sin because we know that He is faithful to His promises.

Prophet Nathan Emol

HOW TO KNOW IF SOMETHING IS A SIN:

242afe84ba298b9a8fb71d412888e6c9.jpg

The sin nature is that aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God. When we speak of the sin nature, we refer to the fact that we have a natural inclination to sin; given the choice to do God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to do our own thing.

Proof of the sin nature abounds. No one has to teach a child to lie or be selfish; rather, we go to great lengths to teach children to tell the truth and put others first. Sinful behavior comes naturally. The news is filled with tragic examples of mankind acting badly. Wherever people are, there is trouble. Charles Spurgeon said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”

The Bible explains the reason for the trouble. Humanity is sinful, not just in theory or in practice but by nature. Sin is part of the very fiber of our being. The Bible speaks of “sinful flesh” in Romans 8:3. It’s our “earthly nature” that produces the list of sins in Colossians 3:5. And Romans 6:6 speaks of “the body ruled by sin.” The flesh-and-blood existence we lead on this earth is shaped by our sinful, corrupt nature.

The sin nature is universal in humanity. All of us have a sinful nature, and it affects every part of us. This is the doctrine of total depravity, and it is biblical. All of us have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Paul admits that “the trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin” (Romans 7:14). Paul was in his “sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). Solomon concurs: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, / no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). The apostle John perhaps puts it most bluntly: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Even children have a sin nature. David rues the fact that he was born with sin already at work within him: “Surely I was sinful at birth, / sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Elsewhere, David states, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; / from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies” (Psalm 58:3).

Where did the sin nature come from? Scripture says that God created humans good and without a sinful nature: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). However, Genesis 3 records the disobedience of Adam and Eve. By that one action, sin entered into their nature. They were immediately stricken with a sense of shame and unfitness, and they hid from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8). When they had children, Adam’s image and likeness was passed along to his offspring (Genesis 5:3). The sin nature manifested itself early in the genealogy: the very first child born to Adam and Eve, Cain, became the very first murderer (Genesis 4:8).

From generation to generation, the sin nature was passed down to all of humanity: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This verse also presents the unsettling truth that the sin nature leads inexorably to death (see also Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:1).

Other consequences of the sin nature are hostility toward God and ignorance of His truth. Paul says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7–8). Also, “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

There is only one Person in the history of the world who did not have a sin nature: Jesus Christ. His virgin birth allowed Him to enter our world while bypassing the curse passed down from Adam. Jesus then lived a sinless life of absolute perfection. He was “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14) who “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This allowed Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross as our perfect substitute, “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). John Calvin puts it in perspective: “For certainly, Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin.”

It is through Christ that we are born again. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). When we are born of Adam, we inherit his sin nature; but when we are born again in Christ, we inherit a new nature: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We don’t lose our sin nature once we receive Christ. The Bible says that sin remains in us and that a struggle with that old nature will continue as long as we are in this world. Paul bemoaned his own personal struggle in Romans 7:15–25. But we have help in the battle—divine help. The Spirit of God takes up residence in each believer and supplies the power we need to overcome the pull of the sin nature within us. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). God’s ultimate plan for us is total sanctification when we see Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 John 3:2).

Through His finished work on the cross, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin and provided believers with victory over their sin nature: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In His resurrection, Jesus offers life to everyone bound by corrupt flesh. Those who are born again now have this command: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

Prophet Nathan Emol

NATURE OF SIN:

Sin Nature.jpg

The sin nature is that aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God. When we speak of the sin nature, we refer to the fact that we have a natural inclination to sin; given the choice to do God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to do our own thing.

Proof of the sin nature abounds. No one has to teach a child to lie or be selfish; rather, we go to great lengths to teach children to tell the truth and put others first. Sinful behavior comes naturally. The news is filled with tragic examples of mankind acting badly. Wherever people are, there is trouble. Charles Spurgeon said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”

The Bible explains the reason for the trouble. Humanity is sinful, not just in theory or in practice but by nature. Sin is part of the very fiber of our being. The Bible speaks of “sinful flesh” in Romans 8:3. It’s our “earthly nature” that produces the list of sins in Colossians 3:5. And Romans 6:6 speaks of “the body ruled by sin.” The flesh-and-blood existence we lead on this earth is shaped by our sinful, corrupt nature.

The sin nature is universal in humanity. All of us have a sinful nature, and it affects every part of us. This is the doctrine of total depravity, and it is biblical. All of us have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Paul admits that “the trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin” (Romans 7:14). Paul was in his “sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). Solomon concurs: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, / no one who does what is right and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). The apostle John perhaps puts it most bluntly: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Even children have a sin nature. David rues the fact that he was born with sin already at work within him: “Surely I was sinful at birth, / sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Elsewhere, David states, “Even from birth the wicked go astray; / from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies” (Psalm 58:3).

Where did the sin nature come from? Scripture says that God created humans good and without a sinful nature: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). However, Genesis 3 records the disobedience of Adam and Eve. By that one action, sin entered into their nature. They were immediately stricken with a sense of shame and unfitness, and they hid from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8). When they had children, Adam’s image and likeness was passed along to his offspring (Genesis 5:3). The sin nature manifested itself early in the genealogy: the very first child born to Adam and Eve, Cain, became the very first murderer (Genesis 4:8).

From generation to generation, the sin nature was passed down to all of humanity: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). This verse also presents the unsettling truth that the sin nature leads inexorably to death (see also Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:1).

Other consequences of the sin nature are hostility toward God and ignorance of His truth. Paul says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7–8). Also, “the person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

There is only one Person in the history of the world who did not have a sin nature: Jesus Christ. His virgin birth allowed Him to enter our world while bypassing the curse passed down from Adam. Jesus then lived a sinless life of absolute perfection. He was “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14) who “had no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This allowed Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross as our perfect substitute, “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). John Calvin puts it in perspective: “For certainly, Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin.”

It is through Christ that we are born again. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). When we are born of Adam, we inherit his sin nature; but when we are born again in Christ, we inherit a new nature: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We don’t lose our sin nature once we receive Christ. The Bible says that sin remains in us and that a struggle with that old nature will continue as long as we are in this world. Paul bemoaned his own personal struggle in Romans 7:15–25. But we have help in the battle—divine help. The Spirit of God takes up residence in each believer and supplies the power we need to overcome the pull of the sin nature within us. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). God’s ultimate plan for us is total sanctification when we see Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 John 3:2).

Through His finished work on the cross, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin and provided believers with victory over their sin nature: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In His resurrection, Jesus offers life to everyone bound by corrupt flesh. Those who are born again now have this command: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

Prophet Nathan Emol

UNFORGIVABLE SIN:

Unforgivable sin.jpg

The unpardonable/unforgivable sin or “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is mentioned in Mark 3:22–30 and Matthew 12:22–32. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter” (Mark 3:28), but then He gives one exception: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin” (verse 29).
According to Jesus, the unpardonable or unforgivable sin is unique. It is the one iniquity that will never be forgiven (“never” is the meaning of “either in this age or in the age to come” in Matthew 12:32). The unforgivable sin is blasphemy (“defiant irreverence”) of the Holy Spirit in the context of the Spirit’s work in the world through Christ. In other words, the particular case of blasphemy seen in Matthew 12 and Mark 3 is unique. The guilty party, a group of Pharisees, had witnessed irrefutable evidence that Jesus was working miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, yet they claimed that He was possessed by the prince of demons, Beelzebul (Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:30).

The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day committed the unpardonable sin by accusing Jesus Christ (in person, on earth) of being demon-possessed. They had no excuse for such an action. They were not speaking out of ignorance or misunderstanding. The Pharisees knew that Jesus was the Messiah sent by God to save Israel. They knew the prophecies were being fulfilled. They saw Jesus’ wonderful works, and they heard His clear presentation of truth. Yet they deliberately chose to deny the truth and slander the Holy Spirit. Standing before the Light of the World, bathed in His glory, they defiantly closed their eyes and became willfully blind. Jesus pronounced that sin to be unforgivable.

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, specific as it was to the Pharisees’ situation, cannot be duplicated today. Jesus Christ is not on earth, and no one can personally see Jesus perform a miracle and then attribute that power to Satan instead of the Spirit. The only unpardonable sin today is that of continued unbelief. There is no pardon for a person who dies in his rejection of Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, convicting the unsaved of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). If a person resists that conviction and remains unrepentant, then he is choosing hell over heaven. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and the object of faith is Jesus (Acts 16:31). There is no forgiveness for someone who dies without faith in Christ.

God has provided for our salvation in His Son (John 3:16). Forgiveness is found exclusively in Jesus (John 14:6). To reject the only Savior is to be left with no means of salvation; to reject the only pardon is, obviously, unpardonable.

Many people fear they have committed some sin that God cannot or will not forgive, and they feel there is no hope for them, no matter what they do. Satan would like nothing more than to keep people laboring under that misconception. God gives encouragement to the sinner who is convicted of his sin: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). And the testimony of Paul is proof positive that God can and will save anyone who comes to Him in faith (1 Timothy 1:12–17). If you are suffering under a load of guilt today, rest assured that you have not committed the unpardonable sin. God is waiting with open arms. Jesus’ promise is that “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). Our Lord will never fail. “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).

Prophet Nathan Emol

REAL MEANING OF SIN:

sin.jpg

Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Sin had its beginning with Lucifer, probably the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. Not content with his position, he desired to be higher than God, and that was his downfall, the beginning of sin (Isaiah 14:12-15). Renamed Satan, he brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. Since that time, sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Romans 5:12 tells us that through Adam sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to all men because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Through Adam, the inherent inclination to sin entered the human race, and human beings became sinners by nature. When Adam sinned, his inner nature was transformed by his sin of rebellion, bringing to him spiritual death and depravity which would be passed on to all who came after him. We are sinners not because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. This passed-on depravity is known as inherited sin. Just as we inherit physical characteristics from our parents, we inherit our sinful natures from Adam. King David lamented this condition of fallen human nature in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

Another type of sin is known as imputed sin. Used in both financial and legal settings, the Greek word translated “imputed” means “to take something that belongs to someone and credit it to another’s account.” Before the Law of Moses was given, sin was not imputed to man, although men were still sinners because of inherited sin. After the Law was given, sins committed in violation of the Law were imputed (accounted) to them (Romans 5:13). Even before transgressions of the law were imputed to men, the ultimate penalty for sin (death) continued to reign (Romans 5:14). All humans, from Adam to Moses, were subject to death, not because of their sinful acts against the Mosaic Law (which they did not have), but because of their own inherited sinful nature. After Moses, humans were subject to death both because of inherited sin from Adam and imputed sin from violating the laws of God.

God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin—death—on the cross. Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He were a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). It is important to understand that sin was imputed to Him, but He did not inherit it from Adam. He bore the penalty for sin, but He never became a sinner. His pure and perfect nature was untouched by sin. He was treated as though He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by the human race, even though He committed none. In exchange, God imputed the righteousness of Christ to believers and credited our accounts with His righteousness, just as He had credited our sins to Christ’s account (2 Corinthians 5:21).

A third type of sin is personal sin, that which is committed every day by every human being. Because we have inherited a sin nature from Adam, we commit individual, personal sins, everything from seemingly innocent untruths to murder. Those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ must pay the penalty for these personal sins, as well as inherited and imputed sin. However, believers have been freed from the eternal penalty of sin—hell and spiritual death—but now we also have the power to resist sinning. Now we can choose whether or not to commit personal sins because we have the power to resist sin through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, sanctifying and convicting us of our sins when we do commit them (Romans 8:9-11). Once we confess our personal sins to God and ask forgiveness for them, we are restored to perfect fellowship and communion with Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We are all three times condemned due to inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sin. The only just penalty for this sin is death (Romans 6:23), not just physical death but eternal death (Revelation 20:11-15). Thankfully, inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sin have all been crucified on the cross of Jesus, and now by faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Prophet Nathan Emol