"I Can't Overcome This Sinful Habit!" (part two)

Friday, April 26, 2013

In part one of this series we were reminded that in order for lasting change to happen in your struggle against addictions, your entire being – mind, will, and emotions – must be affected by God's truth. Today we will consider the role of our minds in the fight against sinful habits.

With your mind you must remember the truth of your identity - you don’t have to sin anymore!

Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
 (Romans 5:20-6:2)

Why shouldn’t we continue in sin? Because we don’t have to! We are no longer chained to sin.

Dogs are gonna bark. Cows are gonna moo. Birds are gonna fly. Rocks are gonna just lie there. Snowflakes are gonna fall. Rivers are gonna run. Sinners are gonna sin. But you don’t have to sin because you’re not a sinner! You may feel like you have to sin, but you don’t have to sin! Because Jesus died and rose, you died to sin and rose to life.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)

Christians often say, “Well, I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”  This is true, but it is not the whole truth! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (II Cor. 5:17). It’s much more accurate to say: “I used to be just a sinner, but now that I have been saved by grace, I am free to be much more in Christ!”

You may object: “I still sin, so doesn’t that make me a sinner?” No more than rolling around in mud makes you a pig! “Sinner” is no longer your basic nature or your primary identity. You are not defined by your addiction. In Christ you are a “saint” – a holy one. That’s your new identity. But here’s the key – you need to remember that truth. It’s so easy for us to forget. We have to activate our minds to focus on the truth of our identity so that we can be who we are.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
In Christ, we are "holy ones." We are alive to God. So let’s remember our identity and act on it!

The role of the mind is so important when battling addictions. When we are faced with sin’s temptation, our minds can be very clever at coming up with sinful rationale and excuses. (Often our minds are at their sharpest when trying to rationalize a sinful behavior!) In the moment of sinful desire you will be tempted to think, “I’ll go ahead and sin, God will forgive me.” My exhortation to you is to “embrace the grace of power before you sin as intensely as you do the grace of pardon after you sin” (John Piper). Actively remind yourself who you are. Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. A slide into sin usually begins in your mind. That’s a great place to stop it.

Remember the truth of your identity - you don’t have to sin anymore!

In our next post, we'll consider how our wills must be affected by the truth of God's Word in order to overcome sinful habits... 


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