“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts…” – Romans 12:6
As we continue to grasp an understanding of how to solve problems biblically we cannot merely look at the problem of sin, but we must know precisely what the Lord commands in His Word in regards to how we must deal with sin. Because sin in and of itself is so deadly, it cannot be treated lightly in any circumstance. To understand how to properly deal with sin in our lives, we must open up the pages of the Word of God and see how God wants us to deal with sin. In this post I want to examine how the Word of God commands us to deal with sin so that we can walk in a manner worthy of Christ.
(I) God’s Command Regarding Sin: Ever since the beginning of the world, sin has stirred in the hearts of men and women, controlling them, dominating them, and bringing about death and destruction in this world. The sin nature as we looked at last time is something we are enslaved to, but it is also something we willfully participate in. Given a free will, mankind would always choose sin against righteousness. What is therefore so radically different between a believer and an unbeliever is that the believer is no longer under the power of sin. Sin actually has no power in his life because he now lives by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16). When God speaks concerning sin in His word, He commands men to not be overpowered by it. For example: When Cain was angry with God and his brother Abel, the Lord confronted him saying, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
God’s command regarding sin is that we master it. In Romans chapter 6, as Paul speaks about the struggle with the sin nature. He says, in verse 14, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” When counseling others, you must be clear to inform the sinner that their sin must be mastered. There is no option around it, God commands it and expects it of those who are His (Rom. 6:12-14). Sin must be mastered!
(II) Man’s Responsibility Regarding Sin: If it is the Lord’s command that we who are His children must master sin in our lives, what does this look like in a practical way? Well, practically speaking, mastery of sin is something that must take place every single day of our lives. Because we are born sinners (Ps. 51:5), each and every day will be a day that we struggle and fight against the flesh (Rom. 7:19-25; Gal. 5:17). Although the battle rages on, we are yet commanded by God to walk by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. When counseling others it is important to remind them who they have become in Christ and because of this transformation, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called (Eph. 4:1). Colossians 1:10 talks about our need not only to walk in a manner worthy of our calling but also to actively bear fruit according to that walk. Bearing fruit (Jn. 15:1-10) is one of the greatest ways that we can actively live out our faith and so prove that we are children of God (Gal. 5:16-25).
The apostle Paul describes our responsibility regarding our sin in a most succinct way in Ephesians chapter 4. The way we deal with sin is simply by, “putting off and putting on”. Just like you take off your pajamas in the morning and put on fresh clothes, so too the believer as Paul says in verse 22-24 should, “…lay aside the old self…and put on the new self.” The old thoughts, actions, deeds, and activities of the fallen man are daily put aside and replaced by godly and Christ-exalting thoughts, actions, deeds and activities (See verses 20-32). This means that one who lies, now speaks the truth, one who steals, now works with his hands and gives, one who speak harshly becomes one who speaks graciously and gently. As you can see, the practical application in counseling is virtually endless. Putting off and putting on takes place every single day as the believer is constantly seeking to do what would bring honor and glory to the name of His Saviour. This is the radical action that takes place in Biblical Counseling and this is why Biblical Counseling is so effective. It does not make excuses for sin, bad behaviour, or wrong responses and emotions. Rather it asses them according to the Word of God and determines how they must change.
In our next post we will take a look at four ways that one can choose to solve problems. Three of them are the world’s way, while the final way will be the way that the Lord desires us to deal with sin in our lives. What is vital to remember is that with the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit that lives within a believer there is great ability and hope for true and lasting change!