In Romans seven the Apostle Paul walks us through what happens to someone when they are trying to defeat sin by law keeping. If we think we are independent people and are suppose to keep the law of God we are destined for failure. We never could keep the law of God. God always knew this, but we had to find out for ourselves.
When we think we have the ability to keep ourselves from sin we actually end up sinning more. It works contrary to the way it seems at first. I mean, we think if we try hard enough or just discipline ourselves we will overcome whatever sin we are battling at the time. The truth is we have no ability in and of ourselves to defeat sin. Of course this is the whole reason Jesus came. He came and died to the law and sin. In fact, the Bible tells us we died too. It says we were crucified with Christ and yet we live. Herein lies the secret, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Let’s look at the cycle of temptation and sin. First there’s temptation. Now temptation isn’t sin but it can lead to it. What happens if we are tempted and think we can handle it? We are putting confidence in the flesh and that is exactly what we are told not to do. If we are being tempted and put confidence in our flesh, or our own ability to defeat it, we are in big trouble.
Have you ever noticed the harder you try to avoid, or not do, something the more likely you are to do it? For instance, if you walk around all day saying I’m not going to eat that, I’m not going to eat that. Pretty soon you’re eating it and lots of it. This is how sin gets power in our lives. We think we can fight temptation, and we end up eyebrow deep in whatever it is we wanted to avoid.
If we do fall into sin when we are tempted the next thing that happens is guilt. Oh no! Now we feel awful, dejected and condemned. This is yet another opportunity for sin or faith. Just as we have an opportunity for sin or faith on the front end, we have another one now that the sin has taken place. Let’s go over this again. First we are tempted, we put confidence in the flesh, we fail and now we feel guilty. It is just here we can break the spin cycle or we can go around again.
If we fail at the temptation and end up in sin feeling guilty, the one thing the enemy would love is for us to beat ourselves up over it. Romans 8:1 tells us “there is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus.” There is absolutely no judgment coming from God because Jesus took all of our judgment on the cross.
One thing is for sure; God isn’t into sin management. He doesn’t want us to manage our sins by fighting and trying harder. His plan involves getting rid of them once and for all. Jesus Christ on the cross took care of our sins and punishment so we no longer have to. In fact, when Jesus died we died, and since we died we no longer are under the dominion of sin. Did you catch that? Sin no longer has any dominion over us! Jesus transferred us out of the sin realm, therefore we defeat it by recognizing we are dead to it instead of trying to fight it. When you fight sin it only gets stronger, but if we acknowledge we are dead to sin it no longer has power over us.
Now the way to deal with temptation is to recognize it is common to all of us even Jesus. He was tempted just as we are and yet he didn’t sin. We have to adopt the attitude that if Christ doesn’t keep us we will commit any and all sin. We must lose all confidence in our flesh or our own ability. We can’t keep the law or keep ourselves we can only lean on Christ to keep us at all times.
Let’s go over the spin cycle again it goes like this: temptation, confidence in the flesh, sin and finally condemnation. The only way to break free from this spin is to take an exit, and the only exit available is the cross of Christ. The Cross is the only way to get off this crazy hamster wheel of trying and failing. The cross means we can’t do it. Jesus has already done it, and we are trusting in Christ and his finished work for victory over the maddening, frustration of the spin cycle.