How to Overcome Sin

How to Overcome Sin
January 7, 2024
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Passage: James 1:13-15
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You know, there's a great blessing that we receive when we become children of God. We're baptized for the remission of our sins. We receive the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. At our baptism, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all of our past sins. 

In Acts chapter 22:16 Paul was told, "Why tarryst thou arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

He was told to be baptized in order to wash away his sins. In doing so, he would be calling upon the name of the Lord. 

Revelation chapter one and verse five speaks of how Christ has cleansed us from our sins or washed us from our sins in his own blood. And we meet that blood in baptism. Now this does not mean that our problem with sin is over. We still, as Christians, at times we will sin. 

  • 1 John 1:8, 10

We need to recognize that we do, as Christians, from time to time, sin. Satan does his best to cause us to sin. You know, he is that "roaring lion that walks about seeking whom he may devour", (1 Peter 5:8). He is always on the prowl, always looking for a new victim. His main victims are Christians. He's already got the others. And so, he wants us. 

Now, if we are to maintain a close walk with God, and if we're ultimately to receive the riches of His glory, then we must overcome the problem of sin

  • 1 John 2:1-2

And so, we overcome sin by sinning less, and as we grow closer and closer to God, hopefully, we sin less and less. But also by knowing what to do when we do sin, knowing that we have an advocate, and knowing that there is a way that we can have our sins washed away once more as a Christian.

So this lesson here, we're concerned with helping us see how sin develops and how to overcome sin and its consequences. 

How Sin Develops

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." — James 1:12

And so here the blessing of faithfulness is that we have that crown of life that is waiting for us. 

  • James 1:13-15

 And so we're going to begin by noting how sin develops. 

Temptation = Desire + Opportunity

You know, the first stage is temptation. Temptation is desire, or lust, plus the opportunity. And so, the idea here is of a strong desire for something, an enticement. He's enticed by an opportunity or an encouragement to satisfy that illicit desire.

You think about it as temptation then equals desire plus opportunity. 

It's not a sin to be tempted. You know, Jesus himself was tempted.

  • Hebrews 4:15
  • Hebrews 2:18

Simply stated, temptation is not sin. 

And so the first stage though is without temptation there will be no sin. 

Sin = Desire + Opportunity + Action

The next step of course is sin itself. And sin is that desire, plus the opportunity, the lust, plus the enticement, and then when we take action upon it. It becomes sin when we yield to temptation.

Thus sin involves the added step of some sort of action on our part. Sin is desire plus opportunity plus action. 

Death = Desire + Opportunity + Action + No Forgiveness 

And then, the third stage involves the consequences of unrepented and unforgiven sin. And that is death. 

  • James 1:15

You know, those terms, it's almost like talking about the process of conception to birth of a human being or an animal, whatever that's conceived and it is born. 

And so here, the conception of temptation and the action, that is sin, which leads to death, spiritual death, or separation from God.

  • Isaiah 59:1-2

It is spiritual death. If we die physically in this stage, while we are still spiritually dead, we die physically, then we're going to experience what is known as the second death, which involves eternal punishment.

  • Revelation 21:8

So we put all this together, and death equals the desire plus opportunity plus action plus the absence of forgiveness.

That leads to spiritual death. 

We think about the development of sin. You know, sin will overcome us if we receive that final punishment, the second death. But we will have to overcome sin, though, if we're going to avoid this punishment. If we don't overcome sin, it will overcome us.

How To Overcome Sin

So how can we be sure to overcome sin? Well, first of all, by stopping its development at any of these stages. You see the temptation, you have the desire, you have the opportunity, you walk away, you don't take the action. And if you do slip up immediately, as soon as you become aware of your sin, you make it right. You repent. 

How do we overcome sin? Let's look at some ways to help us overcome sin. 

Change Our Desires

First of all, is to change our desires. If it is desire plus opportunity, that's what temptation is. If we change our desire, when the opportunity's there, then it's not even going to be temptation. And so, think about the Christian growth that as we grow, we put to death ourselves.

  • Romans 12:1-2

And so we need to grow as Christians.

  • Galatians 5:24
  • Psalm 119:11
  • Matthew 4:3-10
  • Psalm 116:12-14
  • Psalm 119:104

As we grow and as we study more of God's word, the less likely we will have that desire, that lust, that illicit desire. Thereby beginning to overcome sin by, simply nipping it in the bud. 

Limit Our Opportunities

But what else? So we change our desires, first of all. And if we have trouble with that, and certainly it's not something that happens overnight, then we need to also limit our opportunities. 

You know, we're tempted only when both desire and opportunity are present. So while we work on changing our desires, we need to limit our opportunities. It's just like the alcoholic. They need to stay away from alcohol. They need to stay away from places where alcohol is served, and where it is being imbibed.

That's how they stay away from it. How they stay clean is by staying away from that. You know, the alcoholic may still have that desire for the alcohol, but if he doesn't have the opportunity, he's less likely to give into those cravings. 

We need to ask God for help. Certainly, God's providence will help us.

  • Mathew 6:13
  • Matthew 26:41
  • Psalm 101:3-4
  • Job 31:1
  • Psalm 101:6-7
  • 1 Corinthians 15:33

So, we need to limit our opportunities to stay away from situations, places, and people that entice us to sin.

Exercise Self-Control

Next, we need to exercise self-control.

  • 2 Peter 1:6

The word temperance here, is the idea of self-control, keeping our body under control, keeping our thoughts under control, and our actions under control.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:25; 7:9
  • Galatians 5:22-23 
  • Philippians 4:13 
  • Ephesians 3:16
  • Philippians 2:12-13
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13

Even when the temptation comes, if God's word is hidden in my heart, and I know that something is sinful, if I give in to it, then I would be sinning. Again, "Thy word, have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:11). There, right there, that knowledge is the way of escape. The fact that I have free will that the devil can't just overcome me if I don't give in to him. If I resist him, he's going to flee from me. I recognize that there's no excuse for not exercising self-control. 

And so we change our desire, we limit our opportunities and we exercise that self-control. But sometimes, we still give in and sometimes we still fail. And so what do we do then? 

Obtain Forgiveness

We seek forgiveness. Remember that sin is victorious when it results in eternal punishment. We are overcome by sin when we suffer that second death. But if we obtain forgiveness through the blood of Christ, we can avoid that punishment and thereby overcome sin.

  • 1 John 2:1-2

You know, the propitiation, means He is that appeasement, He took our place. We deserve death when we sin. He took our place. He died in our place. He is our propitiation by His blood We are forgiven of past sins when we are united with him in baptism as Peter said there on that great day of Pentecost.

  • Act 2:38; 22:16
  • Revelation 1:5
  • Acts 8:22
  • 1 John 1:9

At any time the Christian can overcome sins that we commit by repenting and confessing them to God. The confession only needs to go as far as the ones who know. If it's only God knows about my sin, it doesn't need to go beyond that. If there are others, who know of my sin and are witnesses to it, who know it or were affected by it, then I need to make sure that they recognize and know that I have repented.

God Helps us to Control Our Desires by Providing His Word

As we look at all of these things we notice several things here. First of all, God can help us to control our desires by providing his word. 

  • Psalms 119:11

You know, he helps us to control our desires through his word. 

God Helps us to Limit the Opportunities to Sin through His Providence

He helps us maybe to limit our opportunities through providence, and we ought to be praying for God's providence that we don't have that opportunity to sin. 

God Helps us to Exercise Self-control over our Actions Through the Spirit Strengthening the Inner Man.

He helps us maybe to exercise our self-control over our actions through, the Spirit's word, the sword of the Spirit, that strengthens the inner man.

God Helps us to Obtain Forgiveness through the Blood of His Son as we repent and pray.

And God helps us to obtain forgiveness through the blood of this Son, Jesus, as we repent and pray. 

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13

Overcoming sin is a product of God's amazing grace. We've been looking at the sins that we commit. The overt sins, the sins of commission, you might call them. But there are other kinds of sin. Sins that come from failing to do what is right.

  • James 4:17

Knowing that we have something that we ought to be doing and not doing it. It's just as bad and just as sinful as doing that which we know we shouldn't. 

Overcoming these sins is similar, we need to change our desires so that we want to do what is right. We need to exercise self-control so we act the way we should when we have the opportunity. And, when we're guilty of sins of omission, you know, we obtain forgiveness in the same way. 

There are some who may look at what we call God's second law of pardon, and they may say, I can be forgiven, so I might as well just go ahead and sin, get it over with, get it out of my system. And then I'll obtain that forgiveness. But the problem is God is not going to be mocked. 

  • Galatians 6:7

If we allow sin to deceive us, so that we become hardened, and we get to the point of sinning willfully we're going to lose our salvation. We're going to lose what we have. 

I urge you, if you're in sin, don't wait till later to deal with it. 

Don't wait till tomorrow, because we're not guaranteed tomorrow. The time is now. The day of salvation is at hand. You know, the Lord's return, it's coming at some point, sooner than it was yesterday. And that's the only thing we know. We have right this minute. The Lord is going to come again as a thief in the night. 

If we are not in a right relationship with Him, either by becoming a child of God or being faithful as a child of God, then we're not going to be saved on that day of judgment. We're going to enter into that second death, a lake which burning with fire and brimstone. I urge you, if you are not a child of God to put on Christ and baptism. As Paul was baptized to wash away his sins, I urge you to wash away your sins. If we can help you to respond to the Lord let us know by contacting us.

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