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How To Overcome Sin

Death to Self

The Christian's sinful nature
does not disappear at conversion.
Our sinful nature
must be dealt with daily.
Here is what the Bible says.

By Ken Raggio

What happens to our sinful nature when we are born again?

The Word says, "Old things are passed away..." (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yes, indeed, our sins are passed away when they are washed in the blood of Jesus.

But is our sinful NATURE taken away from us, leaving no tendencies at all to do wrong? Hardly!

In the past fifty years, I have heard a handful of people say that when they got saved, they lost all their desire to sin. I never did believe that claim. The NATURE of your flesh does not change when you get saved. Every desire that your flesh had before you got saved is still present in your flesh AFTER you get saved. Those fleshly, carnal desires have to be crucified, mortified, and daily put to silence.

The blood of Jesus is applied to our former sins, washing and cleansing our old sins away. Guilt, condemnation, and the sentence of death are taken away when we dutifully follow the Lord in His death, burial and resurrection by repenting (death to sin), being water baptized in His name (burial), and being filled with His spirit (resurrection).


Our carnal nature is still with us, no matter how radically we are converted to Christ. Our flesh will always be flesh. The carnal mind will always be carnal. The old man will always be subject to similar temptations as before.

That is why Paul said, "I die daily," (1 Corinthians 15:41). WHY did Paul need to die daily? His human will and his carnal mind were daily trying to take him back to his old thoughts and behaviors. That is the case with every one of us.

The carnal mind, with its fleshly desires, perpetually manifests tendencies that are contrary to the will of God. Those tendencies must be crucified. We must not allow our natural-born, inherent behaviors to go unchecked. We must not allow our fleshly desires to run rampant, undisciplined, or unsubdued. The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life are pernicious and perpetual traits of our old nature, rooted in our carnal mind and fleshly body.

So, no matter how full you may be of the Holy Spirit, your body will always have the same earthly nature that it had before you were born again. These attributes are present and must be reckoned with frequently. If not, they will spontaneously produce the same sins that they always did.

"I am crucified with Christ..." (Galatians 2:20).

The members of the body, and their deeds, must be repeatedly mortified (killed, or at least, subdued). Why? Because our carnal mind is as alive as the rest of our body, and it is exceedingly hostile against God and godliness.

Everything about the carnal mind serves the members of the body.

When your stomach needs food, your eyes look for food, your feet take you to it, and your hands pick it up and put it in your mouth.

In like manner, all the members of your body serve your carnal mind. Every desire in your body seeks to be satisfied. Unless you intentionally destroy those evil desires, they will bring forth sin.

"Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren," (James 1:14-16).

Those verses tell us that we are tempted when our own lusts draw us away and entice us to do things that God forbids. If our lust successfully conceives disobedient behavior, it brings forth sin. When sin is finished, it brings forth death. So it is our mortal challenge, to prevent sin from finishing.

It is important to understand how sin develops. James listed the process (James 1:14):

1. We are tempted when we are drawn away of our own lust, and enticed.
2. Lust conceives, and brings forth sin.
3. Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.

How can you overcome this process, and thereby overcome sin?

1. Temptation must be resisted and refused.
2. We must prevent lust from conceiving sin.
3. If lust conceives sins, they must be aborted.

Now, I am fundamentally against the abortion of babies.
But I am NOT against the abortion of sin!
Whether you have barely started to sin, or if you are deep, deep into sin, you must abort it the moment you recognize your sin!

The VERY MOMENT that you recognize that you are being drawn away by your lusts, YOU MUST CRUCIFY THEM!

If you do not CRUCIFY your lusts the moment you recognize them, they will inevitably bring forth sin.

The GOOD NEWS is that the Holy Spirit in a born-again believer actually wages war against the desires of his flesh.

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," (Galatians 5:16-17).

God's Spirit wrestles with our fleshly will, urging and enabling us to deny the fleshly lusts.

It is supremely important that we acknowledge when the Holy Spirit is convicting us of potential wrong-doing. He will empower and enable us to resist those temptations that lead to trangressions.

We simply must give the highest priority to eternal things, and put to death the carnal, worldly, and temporal desires that lead us into sin. Yielding to our flesh ALWAYS causes trouble. Yielding to and submitting to the will of the Holy Spirit and the word of God is ALWAYS the right thing to do.

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good," Romans 12:21.

Here is a simple, yet profound formula for overcoming sin.

There are only 24 hours in any day. If you spend those hours doing righteous things which cannot be condemned, you have easily and simply deprived yourself of the ability to do wrong. If you do the right things long enough, you will run out of time to do wrong. Overcome evil with good. THAT is crucifying the flesh.

Overcome evil with good

Our sinful nature is ever-present.

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do, ...I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me," Romans 7:18-19,21.

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God," Romans 8:5-9.

As long as you do not resist your natural tendancies, you will continue in sin.

But God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can live a DIFFERENT way!

"If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [enliven] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God," Romans 8:11-14.

If we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and the word of God, the sins of the carnal nature will be smothered and will die. The sins that almost began will never finish, and will never bring forth death.

We must act quickly to abort every attempt of the flesh to reassert itself, giving no place to the devil, but carefully following the mind and Spirit of Christ everywhere He leads.

Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven." If we do God's will on earth as the saints and holy angels do in heaven, there will not be one sin named in our lives.

(None of the works of the flesh are named among the saints and holy angels in heaven.) So sin should not be once named among us who diligently pursue the ways of the Holy Spirit.

All the works of the flesh - adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like, (Galatians 5:19), must die.

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: ...the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ...he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God," Romans 8:26-27.

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh," Galatians 5:16.

If you will be sinless, you must make walking in the Spirit a daily exercise.

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