God’s Gift of Victory Over Sin

In the previous two releases (linked below), we looked at the “temptation templates” the enemy of our souls effectively used on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and uses on us today (see Genesis 3). But we didn’t end there. We looked at some of the good and perfect gifts God has given us to combat our temptations to sin:

Reducing the actual amount of temptations coming our way from Satan by putting James 4:7 into practice: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Having a way of escape from every temptation: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13).

The gift of confession, forgiveness, and restoration when we do sin: I John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What lavish, stunning gifts God has given us, especially in light of how often we’ve hardened our hearts and willfully sinned against Him! Despite knowing and clinging to the above Bible verses as a child, however, I entered adulthood with an incomplete understanding of the “cycle breaker” of sin I felt so desperately in need of.

I only had an understanding of two out of three important truths:

The first truth:  When we recognize our sinfulness and believe in God’s provision for forgiveness and acceptance by Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, we’re immediately saved from the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). We are instantly, then, given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) and adopted by God as His dear children (Romans 8:15) and have the promise of being with Him in heaven forever (I John 5:13, John 3:16).

The second truth: When Christ won the victory over sin and death on the cross, He also won the victory over the power of sin in us (Romans 6:1-7). Just as a baby is unaware of the wonders of how to use his mind and coordination to perform multiple functions, however, it’s often a significant process for us to apply faith to the truth that we can live free from the power of sin every day, right now (Romans 6:14).

The third truth: After the believer’s physical death and we’re with Christ in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8), we will be saved from the very presence of sin (John 14:2-3, Revelation 21:4, Romans 8:18).

As a child, I accepted by faith God’s gift of salvation through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross which released me from the penalty of my sin (the first truth). At the same time, I joyfully accepted by faith the third truth: God’s gift permitting me to spend eternity in heaven with Christ, free from the very presence of sin. I nonetheless failed to understand—and subsequently take hold of by faith—the full extent of the second work Christ completed on the cross of Calvary as shared in Romans chapter 6. This was when Christ won the victory over the power of sin in us by crucifying our “old self” (or sin nature we inherited from Adam) to the cross with Him.

I occasionally wondered: If my old self was crucified with Christ as the Apostle Paul taught in this portion of Scripture, why did I still struggle with sin? And why did Paul share he struggled with it, too? (see Romans 7)

How does this “old self being crucified with Christ” thing really work?

Well, it starts with this basic: People did not survive Roman crucifixions, a cruel method of capital punishment. And neither did our old self. The Bible tell us it was crucified with Christ. Jesus rose from the grave in victory over death, praise His name! Yet the believer’s crucified, old self did not (Romans 6:6-7). This is a wonderful truth to camp on, my friend!

With His precious blood, Jesus sacrificially paid the ransom to permanently release believers from the chains of their sin DNA. He won the victory once and for all over the horrific, tenacious grip of sin: the power we were enslaved to. When sin whistled its summons, we were the slaves conditioned to answer; but a person’s faith in the risen Jesus changes all of this!

Now, when sin beckons, the child of God has the freedom to ignore its call. The sin DNA that linked us to sin’s taskmaster has been severed. Simply put, we are no longer its slaves (Romans 6:14). We belong to God’s family and He bestowed on us the perfect, sinless DNA of Jesus.

Yes, the Christ follower will have struggles with sin (Romans 7:15) until his or her physical death and being welcomed into the presence of God. But he or she was released from the kingdom of darkness and its chains to sin through Jesus and made an heir of God’s kingdom of light and freedom.

This is huge!  Through faith in Jesus, the “Sinner” label is no longer ours to wear. Jesus peeled it off and it’s gone. A thing of the past.

Hallelujah!

So how does this play out for the Christian? It means if you and I are going to wallow in sin, we have to make a foolhardy attempt to remove that crucified, dead, old self off the cross, lay it out on the ground, and try to blow air into its decayed body. While this is a highly graphic and disturbing example, based on Romans chapter 6 any child of God choosing to sin is, in effect, trying to resuscitate a corpse!

When I came to understand the significance of Christ having crucified our old self to His cross (Galatians 2:20), I was wild with joy and asked God to help me communicate how this truth practically throws us into victory over sin and temptation. Here’s how He chose to answer that prayer:

A stunning upset took place back in the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia. A swimmer from Equatorial Guinea came to represent his country, having learned to swim only eight short months prior to competing in the event. He had trained in a pool only 20 meters long and hadn’t even seen a 50-meter Olympic pool until arriving in Sydney.  This young man’s times were painfully slow compared to his highly trained, skilled competitors.  Some who watched him swim feared he might even drown. Yet by the time his body pierced the water in what would become his winning swim, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he would be the Gold Medal winner of the Men’s 100 Meter Freestyle event. And so did the crowd who watched it all unfold.

How did this happen? Strangely enough, victory was in reach before this unlikely champion’s race even began because his rivals had made false starts. They were subsequently disqualified. A new race was set, so when the soon-to-be medalist made his winning swim he was the only athlete in the pool; he was the victor by default.  (And he set a new Olympic record for the Men’s 100 Meter Freestyle event—not for the fastest time, but the slowest.)

Although this man unexpectedly found himself free of competitors, he still had to exercise self-discipline, focus, and committed action to bring the victory to pass. In other words, he didn’t jump into the Olympic Pool when it was time for the event to take place, splash around, and invite members of the crowd to come in and play water volleyball with him. Had he done so, he wouldn’t have experienced the victory he did, nor would he have brought honor to his country.

This historical event (documented at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland) beautifully illustrates the truth about spiritual victory which some of us, as Christians, have lived far too long in ignorance of. We’ve sought victory in given situations while failing to grasp the fact that—because of what Christ Jesus has completed on the cross—our victory is assured when we embrace the freedoms of being dead to sin (Romans 6:11).

Just as our Olympic swimmer was required to exercise self-discipline, focus, and action to experience victory, we must also. We must move forward—or stand firm—on the absolute conviction that what the Bible says Christ has accomplished on our behalf has been accomplished. And then we need to live like it. We commune with God’s Holy Spirit and seek to walk in His ways. Our hearts’ desire is to live like sons and daughters of the Most High.

Through God’s grace, we can swim in the painful events of life and fierce temptations that come before us, with all of their challenges. And even though our lungs may hurt, our noses and throats may burn with water, and we wonder whether we might actually drown, Christ has ensured our victory. We have been set free from the chains of sin DNA. Our shortcomings and potential failures are absorbed into His victory. My friend, Jesus removed the accusatory competitor from the race.

There’s nobody else in the pool!

Hallelujah!

 

[Adapted from the upcoming book, Breathtaking Hope in the Furnace of Infertilityan Encouragement That Lasts publication]
[Previous blogs referenced above: (1) Recognizing Deception-Based Temptations; and (2) “I Know This is Wrong, But…” Temptations.]

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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