Article by J.D. Greear, Ph.D. Greear is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.
Trying to tame sin rather than killing it is as silly as people making pets out of predatory animals. Check out these 5 ways to fight sin.
I once read an article with the headline, “Pennsylvania Woman Killed by Pet Bear.” This woman had raised a black bear named Teddy from cubhood, and for nine years, there were no incidents. But then, one day, as she was cleaning his cage, the bear mauled her.
Some of the neighbors acted surprised. One said, “She was a good person; we just thought she had a strange hobby.” I don’t doubt the woman was a good person. But it doesn’t matter whether you’ve named your pet bear Teddy or not—my kids are not coming over to hang out. Because bear taming is not just an unusual hobby like stamp collecting. And sooner or later, bears do what bears do.
Just like sin will do what sin does.
As a Christian, you have to acknowledge the predatory nature of sin, which means you also have to be continually fighting back.
But, as the Apostle Paul says, it’s only by the Spirit you can hope to do this: “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13 CSB).
Many people feel defeated by sin because they’ve been trying to fight the impulses of sin through the powers of the flesh. You have to fight in the power of the Spirit.
How exactly do you fight sin in the Spirit rather than in the flesh? Here are five steps to fight sin in the Spirit:
1. Humble Confession
The opposite of confession is hiding your faults or keeping them to yourself so that you can maintain an illusion.
But that is a mistake because God can only heal your sin when you bring it into the light. Sin is like a kind of moral mildew on the soul that you can only get rid of by exposing it to the light of God’s presence. The Bible says, “Confess your sins to one another … so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
2. Total Surrender
This is in contrast to a negotiated settlement with God. Most people only want to ask, “What do I have to do to be considered a ‘good Christian’?” But that won’t work because God is not a force to employ; he’s a person to surrender to. When you say “no” to him, even about a small thing, you cut yourself off from fellowship with him—and his power.
3. Reassurance in the Gospel
The Spirit breaks sin’s hold on you by reminding you of your full acceptance with the Father.
This is counter-intuitive, but it is always how Jesus changed people. He told the woman caught in adultery, “’Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’” (John 8:11 ESV). He put acceptance before change because only through knowing she was accepted would she have the power to change.