Dear reader, this is the final part of a series I have been writing about overcoming sin.
Part one focused on our choices. Part two pointed the unbeliever to Jesus as a remedy for sin. (Previous columns are available online at https://www.dailypostathenian.com/community/religion/)
In today’s article, I want to offer advice to those who consider themselves to be Christians, but can’t seem to shake a habitual sin.
As a Christian, I never overcame any sin by focusing on not committing it.
It’s like telling someone, “Don’t think about a pink elephant!”
Once you have said it, all they can think about is a pink elephant and how they should not be thinking about a pink elephant.
Instead of thinking about a pink elephant, you must think about something else to the exclusion to any references of elephants, pink or otherwise.
Let me tell you my story.
Like many others, I began my Christian walk with what the world would call bad habits, but I knew to be sin. I decided, if I were going to serve Jesus, I would have to deal with it.
It wasn’t just the “sin” that bothered me; it was the guilt and condemnation that accompanied it. I would try to break free, determined that I would “never do that again.” Eventually, I would succumb to the pressure and find myself repeating “that which I would not” (reference Romans 7:15-20).
Then the devil, taking the opportunity of my transgression, would immediately begin his accusations, “You’ll never get free. You’ll never overcome. You’ll always be a slave to that sin.”
And if that wasn’t bad enough, he’d focus his accusations on my relationship with my heavenly Father.
“God can’t possibly love a sinner like you. You’ll never meet His standards. You’ll always be a loser in His eyes.”
The spiritual and emotional torment was tangible.
But then I learned what the Father said about me and what Jesus did for me on the cross; how He became a substitute for my sin, bearing the punishment for it, so that I might become His righteousness (reference 2 Corinthians 5:21).
This seemed too good to be true. God is no longer holding my sin against me and has joined Himself with me? (reference 2 Corinthians 5:19)
The only thing required of me was to believe it.
But how can I believe it when I have once again slipped into sin and failed to control my flesh.
I made a conscientious decision to speak the truth of God’s Word even though I may not feel holy or righteous.
I decided, in the midst of my sin, to begin declaring, “I am the righteousness of God!”
I recall pacing the floor, reciting the essence of 2 Corinthians 5:21 over and over again.
“I thank you Heavenly Father, that you made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for me, that I might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”
And then for good measure, I would boldly declare, “I am the righteousness of God.”
“Is it that simple, Brother Tim? Is that all it takes?”
I suggest you try it sometime.
Say out loud, “I am the righteousness of God.”
Some will bristle and think, “I could never say that. I know what type of person I am.”
Let me assure you: This has
nothing to do with you and everything to do with what Jesus did for you.
Some will try it and say it once, “I am the righteousness of God.”
But immediately the devil will come to steal the word (reference Mark 4:15), whispering in their ear, “That’s not for you. Surely, God would never call you His righteousness.”
But if you are like me, determined to change your life by changing your thinking, you’ll stand on the Word of God even when all hell assails your mind.
And, honestly, when I made the decision to believe, my mind became a battlefield. I had to constantly put down the thoughts that said I was anything less than His righteousness. It was torture and torment.
However, I remember the day when it became alive to me. I was pacing the floor in the dining room of the first house my wife and I owned.
I was declaring, by faith, over and over, “I am the righteousness of God,” when suddenly it clicked into my consciousness: I really am the righteousness of God.
It changed my life. My sin, past, present, and future, became irrelevant; Jesus dealt with it on the cross. The new creation (reference 2 Corinthians 5:17) arose on the inside of me, overwhelming any desire to sin.
I knew that I knew that I knew that I was the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Old things had passed away; all things became new.
“Are you not tempted to sin anymore, Brother Tim?”
Of course, I am tempted. And occasionally, I fall. But I don’t stay down. I repent and receive God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and move on.
Am I saying this is easy? No, but it’s not complicated. By simply renewing your mind (reference Romans 12:2) to the truths found in the Word of God, your desire to sin will wane as His truth fills your consciousness.
Tim Hughes is a lay minister and elder at Ascension Life Church in Athens. He can be reached at email@example.com