Understanding and Dealing with Sin

All “born again” believers have three primary enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh.  These three work in conjunction to lead God’s children into disobedience, tempting them to live their lives independent of God.

As believers grow, so does the opposition. Before long, it becomes evident that the first two enemies mentioned are external, while the third is a traitor within.  The Bible term for this internal adversary is “the old man” or “the flesh,” The rebellious, self-centered nature which remains active after salvation.

This lesson is designed to help understand the connection between the external temptations and the inner workings of sin, thereby enabling the believer to see clearly and choose wisely.

The definition of sin.

Sin can be defined as the voluntary departure from God’s law, disobedience to God’s commands. Sin is any transgression (violation or breaking God’s law) “…sin is the transgression of the law.”  (1 John 3:4).

Sin is not doing what we know is right (James 4:17).

Sin is anything apart from faith (Romans 14:14, 22-23 Cf. Hebrews 11:6).

The source of sin

Our natural inclination to sin is due to the influence of an inborn, rebellious, self-centered nature inherited from “Adam,” the “Federal Head” of the human race (Romans 5:12), which draws us into disobedience (Romans 7:14-25, James 1:13-14).

The motions of sin; a natural progression

Sin is by nature subtle, insidious, operating in a slow, almost imperceptible manner, all the while concealing the consequences. It also works incrementally, beginning slowly or small and then gradually intensifying.  Once again, consider (James 1:14-15). The spreading effect of “leaven” (yeast) found in (Galatians 5:9) is a good example.

Sin involves a three-stage process:

Presentation – Confronted with the object of temptation.

Illumination – Knowledge is given regarding the object – conscience; warning sounded. (At this point, sin has not yet occurred).

Debate – Contest between conscience and the flesh, God’s will versus self-will (sin has already begun its work at this point); finally, the wrong choice is made.

This age-old process can be illustrated using the example of Eve’s temptation by the serpent (Genesis 3:1-6).

Presentation – Verses 1-2.

Illumination – Verse 3 (her conscience recalls God’s command and warning regarding the fruit).

 Debate – Verse 4-5 Eve enters the debate stage; sin is now at work; verse 6, the final act is committed.

Sin leads to more sin “…iniquity unto iniquity” (Romans 6:19).

The more we yield to sin, the stronger it becomes.  When we habitually ignore the warnings of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we grieve and eventually quench His influence (Ephesians 4:30, 1Thessalonians 5:19), thereby making it easier and easier to sin.

Conversely, each time we resist sin’s temptation, we weaken its power and influence.  We find this principle illustrated in (Matthew 4:1-11) when the devil tempted the Lord Jesus to sin.  Notice that in each instance Jesus resisted the enticement to sin by quoting Scripture, the tempter had no choice but to flee.  Also, consider (James 4:7).

How does God view our sins?

God sees our sins under the blood of His Son.  God judged our sin (past, present, and future) at Calvary.  Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death…”  Jesus died the death due for our sins; He died in our place for our sin as our substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1Peter 2:24 & 3:18 “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).  When a believer sins, it is not his salvation affected but his fellowship with the Lord (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 66:18).

Due to our second birth, God is now our Father, and as such, He will chastise us when we sin (Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:5-11).

 Dealing with and Overcoming Sin.

One of the greatest temptations that believers face is blaming something or someone else for their sin.

Therefore, the first step in overcoming sin is to own it, take responsibility for your sin (Psalm 51:3-4, 38:18, Proverbs 28:1).

Be quick to judge your sin, don’t waste time trying to justify yourself (1 Corinthians 11:31, Daniel 10:12).

Confess your sin to God; acknowledge and repent (1 John 1:9, Psalm 32:5).

Take care to separate yourself from the ways of “this present evil world” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 1 John 2:15-16, and Galatians 1:4).

Avoid tempting situations and sinful activities (Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof”because opportunity and temptation go hand in hand. Also, consider (I Thessalonians 5:22, Proverbs 27:12).

Hide God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11, Psalm 37:31, 1 John 2:14) and apply it in your life (James 1:22-25, Psalm 103:17-18.)

Every sin begins with a thought which should have been rejected; guard your thought life, don’t entertain wrong thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5, Proverbs 23:7). Replace old thoughts and habits with God’s truth, thereby enabling your thought life to be renewed, restructured according to God’s principles (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8).

The temptation of sin is nothing compared to the torment of the consequences of sin, do not forfeit peace for pleasure.

“Awake to righteousness, and sin not…”  (1 Corinthians 15:34).