Overcoming Sin

By COGwriter

Christians need to overcome the world and its sinful ways.

Christians realize that Jesus died for our sins. The Bible makes this clear:

3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)

Through biblical observances such as Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread, Christians better learn the price of sin through Jesus' sacrifice, the prevalence of sin in the world, and the necessity to put sin out of our lives.

Just like the children of Israel had to leave the bondage of physical Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:6), Christians need to leave the spiritual Egypt (Revelation 11:8) of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4). Christians need to come out of sin, but they need God's help in overcoming sin.

A sermon video of related interest is also available: How YOU Can Overcome Sin.

Verses to Memorize to Help with Overcoming Sin

Before going into sin and repentance, there are some portions of scripture that perhaps should be shown first. These are also verses that you really should memorize.

Here is the first:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Nearly every day I pray a slightly modified version of the above more or less as follows:

Father in heaven, let us trust in You with all our hearts and lean not to our own understandings. In all our ways help us acknowledge You and You will direct our paths.

If you sin, at the time you do so you are not obviously trusting in God with all your heart.

Interestingly, notice the verse that comes immediately after Proverbs 3:6:

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)

So, we see that not trusting in God, but trusting in ourselves (vanity) can lead to evil. But that fearing and trusting God is the way to depart from evil.

Christians should also consider the following words of Jesus:

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

I would suggest that all memorize at least the first half of Matthew 6:33.

If you are truly seeking first the kingdom of God, this will help you overcome sin--unlike the children of Israel who did not seek God's righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-3).

There is another verse that all should memorize, and it is bolded below:

1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

The children of Israel saw the miracles, but although they went along with God's physical plan, they did not truly repent. We, as Christians, all must however.

Have All Sinned? What is Sin?

Christians are to strive for spiritual perfection:

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

That is a tall order.

Have all sinned? The Bible teaches that all have:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

The Bible also defines sin:

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4, NKJV)

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4, KJV)

The KJV translation to the verse above is closer to what the original Greek suggests than the NKJV. It, therefore, better conveys what God is teaching here.

Sin is the transgression of God's law of love, such as is defined in the Ten Commandments (see also The Ten Commandments Reflect Love, Breaking them is Evil). Notice that Jesus specifically referred to directly violations of at least six of the Ten Commandments in one place as evil:

20... What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. (Mark 7:20-22)

Christians should keep the law of love which includes keeping the Ten Commandments (see also The Ten Commandments and the Early Church and What Did Jesus Teach About the Ten Commandments?).

Whoever you obey most is your god. Whatever you serve could be your god. It might be your automobile. Maybe it’s an idol. Maybe it’s your boss or family. Whatever it is, that’s your god if you obey it and disobey the God of the Bible (cf. Acts 5:29).

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

Adam and Eve had another god in place of the true God. Adam and Eve violated the first commandment. Eve obeyed the voice of the serpent (Genesis 3:13) and Adam obeyed Eve (Genesis 3:17).

2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:2-7)

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13-14)

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned — 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12-19)

Adam and Eve decided something or many things were more important to God. Consider:

16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:16-17)

What is the greatest commandment? Jesus was asked about that:

35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:35-37)

Many people say that they love God, but God is not truly real to them. They put other priorities above obeying God.

Nearly everyone--if not everyone--sins every day because they do not really keep this commandment.

Consider the following that Joshua stated:

14 “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

Do any Christians really believe that they should serve false gods?

It is wrong to rebel against God by violating the first commandment:

22 Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

God expects His people to obey Him.

Yet, even though Jesus referred to the first commandments as the greatest commandment, this is the commandment that is violated the most.

Christians Need to Repent

In order to become a Christian, one is supposed to repent and be baptized:

38...Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38-39)

Christians are to have "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). They are to change.

Notice something from the late Herbert W. Armstrong:

REPENTANCE of sin means, literally, to CHANGE one's MIND in respect to sin. If we repent, and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour, the promise is we SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ... "and be renewed in the Spirit of YOUR MIND" (Eph. 4:23) -- the presence of the Holy Spirit is the RENEWING of THE MIND.

How does sin actually happen? "... every man is TEMPTED when he is drawn away of his own lust [desire], and enticed. Then when lust [the desire IN THE MIND] hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15).

The TEMPTATION is in the MIND. When you THINK about the thing that tempts you -- let your mind dwell on it -- turn it over in your mind -- whether it be a desire to GO some place, to DO something, or to HAVE something you know is wrong -- that THINKING ABOUT IT finally conceives -- leads to ACTION -- and breeds SIN. You finally DO the thing you kept thinking about, wanting to do. If you keep thinking about it, after a while you'll be UNABLE to resist it. That's why you've lost so many of these struggles against sin -- you kept THINKING about it, desiring it, wanting it.

The way to prevent sin is to let God's Spirit fill the mind. "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2).

The way to put a thing OUT of the mind is to put an OPPOSITE thought IN the mind. So often I have noticed parents of babies strive so hard to "shush" up the baby when it is crying in church. There's something in the baby's mind that is causing its crying or fretting. Just saying "shush!" or commanding the baby to stop fussing doesn't usually get very good results. We have raised four children, and long ago I learned the trick of quieting the baby by GETTING ITS MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. Instead of commanding it to stop crying, attract its attention with some new object -- get it interested in playing with that object (I have often used my fountain pen with excellent results) -- and before you know it the child will forget all about its crying.

Try using this same method on yourself. But instead of material or worldly things, a mature person should use self-discipline and set his mind on spiritual things. Open your Bible. Put the study of some SPIRITUAL subject in your mind. Next time you are tempted, try it. Pray over it. Ask God to help you. See how rapidly you begin to win the victory over temptation and sin, and how marvelous will be your spiritual and CHARACTER growth. (Armstrong HW. How to Prevent Sin)

Christians need to focus on the things of God and understand the truth about sin.

Notice also the following from Charles Hunting:

Let's get one thing straight: when we repent - really - we CHANGE ! We don’t repeat the sin! IF we don’t change - stop sinning - we HAVEN’T REPENTED!...

With God’s truth, we in the Church can come to a greater point of self-analysis. God’s Word spotlights the wretchedness of OUR human nature - we see our total selfishness. We KNOW “ . . .the heart {the basic core of the human being] is deceitful above ALL things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).

At least we accept the fact that this is what the Bible says and mentally agree with it

We see our lack of ability to overcome this wretched nature. We even learn to repeat the words, “I abhor myself.” Yes, we see the need, and want to change.

It’s not so difficult to come to abhor oneself - to despise and hate our weaknesses. We detest our feelings of inferiority. So does the rest of the world.

We say we hate ourselves and abhor our sins, but is it really true? If you had a rotten, stinking, maggot-infested piece of putrifying meat in your kitchen, you would have such a revulsion toward it that you would immediately get rid of it. But we put up with so much of the filth that we claim to abhor about ourselves. How come?

Here’s why!

WE DON’T REALLY ABHOR the sin! What we usually mean when we say “we’re sorry” is that we are sorry for the effect our shortcomings have on our sense of well-being-our happiness.

We feel guilty or unhealthy. What we want is to be comfortable mentally and physically. Then we can live at peace with ourselves or others we may have offended.

Humans will go to any length to escape personal predicaments. Even in suicide people are merely trying to escape from their personal despair and hopelessness !

But that doesn’t mean we are REVOLTED BY THE SIN! If we were, we’d get rid of it! And we can! But there has to be a starting place...

Judas...scorned Christ...Notice Matthew 27:3-5...Judas didn’t remotely experience the type of repentance Paul preached about and made a main part of his message. . . REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD! (Acts 20:21.)...

Stop and think! Do you know what repentance toward God means? If you don’t or can give only the vaguest answer, you could be in serious trouble!

It is because we are not continually experiencing repentance toward God that we continue to needlessly repeat the same sins over and over! There is a fantastic difference in self-remorse and repentance toward GOD. YOU’VE GOT TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!

David KNEW the Difference

When David realized the horrible sins he committed, he knew they were AGAINST GOD.

There was no self-centered remorse in his repentance! He cried out, “Have mercy upon me, 0 God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. AGAINST THEE, THEE ONLY, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Ps. 51:1-4)


He was going to suffer for the rest of his life for his horrible deeds...In spite of all the wretchedness he had brought upon himself and others, he still said that his ONLY sin was against God!

Why? The answer is extremely important! When Judas robbed, he became critical of Christ and accused Christ of wasting money (John 12:5). When David sinned, he was HORRIFIED at what he had done to God.

Had he “hurt” God? Had he diminished God’s power or taken away any of His authority or thwarted His plan? Had he lessened any of the beauty or splendor of God’s Throne? No!...

The sin was against God.

David was asked by Samuel, “Wherefore hast thou DESPISED the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight? . . . Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house: BECAUSE YOU HAVE DESPISED ME! (II Sam. 12:9-10)...

Surely you must realize God gave this knowledge that you be a witness to the rest of the world. “You are MY witnesses . . . and MY servant whom I have chosen. . .” (Isa. 43:10).

Do you realize that to disregard God’s instruction - laws given FOR YOUR GOOD - shows UTTER CONTEMPT to this great and magnificent Being we worship?

Have no doubts! When you sin, you show the ULTIMATE SCORN for the great and fantastic gifts given to you by One who sits at the controls of the universe. How horrible is the sin that we commit against God-NOT AGAINST MAN - AGAINST GOD!!!

When we sin, we show an UNBELIEVABLE CALLOUSNESS toward the great gifts of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. This is when we continue to sin!

Don’t say to yourself these sins don't hurt God.

God’s GREAT desire is to share. He is a giving God. His greatest joy would be to share with us His power, His magnificent glory, His eternity. He wants to give us equality with Him. This is ALL that He can do. He can’t create something greater than Himself.

When we sin, we deny Him this great privilege of GIVING. We thumb our nose at Him.

What TREMENDOUS INGRATITUDE we express toward God when we sin!..

The Sorrow of Death

Paul also spoke of a totally futile repentance. He said there is a remorse that is utterly worthless in God’s eyes! Read it in your own Bible: “The sorrow of the world worketh death!” (11 Cor. 7:10.)

Paul had written a letter of correction to the people in Corinth. But he had found a point of rejoicing because of the effect of his letter. He commended them because they had the RIGHT KIND OF REPENTANCE.

He said, “Now I rejoice, that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a GODLY MANNER. . . For godly sorrow worketh repentance to SALVATION NOT TO BE REPENTED OF.”

You don’t have to go through the same process time after time. If you’ve repented once according to God’s way - that’s enough (II Cor. 7:9-10).

How could Paul tell their repentance was real? Because of what it produced! There was no question about it.

NOTICE: “For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a GODLY sort,” -here’s what it produced - “what carefulness [careful self-examination) it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves [change now], yea, what indignation, yea, what fear [alarm), yea, what vehement desire [to change and be cleared before God], yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! [grabbing the initiative to change) . . .” (II Cor. 7:11).

Here was the fantastic difference. There were tangible, concrete results and it was CLEARLY EVIDENT IN THEIR LIVES.

They had a right attitude toward God. They didn’t want to dishonor their Creator and be guilty of scorning the great sacrifice in the gift of His Son. They were broken up over what they had done.

Learn this lesson of Godly repentance, Brethren. Apply it in your lives TODAY - before it’s too late. Don’t be among those who will be weeping and gnashing their teeth in tearful self- pity, full of worldly repentance as Christ rejects them from His Kingdom. Repent in a Godly way and you’ll be able to say with the same feeling David did, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Ps. 103:10-11). (Hunting C. Do You Really Repent? Good News, February 1967, pp. 9-10,25-24).

(Note: I was asked about the statement above "He wants to give us equality with Him." What Charles Hunting seemingly meant was that God wants to give us all that He has and wants us to be in His family. Even though the Father is greater than the Son (John 14:28), the Bible shows that Jesus had a type of divine equality with the Father per Philippians 2:6 and that is what Charles Hunting seemed to be referring to.)

Sin prevents God from blessing us as He would like.

Christians must truly desire to change, truly abhor sin, and follow through with that change.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

Why else abhor sin? There are many reasons, but one of the easiest to remember is, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Notice what the Apostle Paul also wrote:

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)

Sinning causes a judgment to affect us that we would not otherwise wish to have. It prevents God from blessing us as He would like.

Sin causes physical death in this life and can also contribute to either spiritual death or stagnation in Christian growth.

Putting Sin Out Requires the Help of Jesus

During the Days of Unleavened Bread we are to have no sin in our lives, symbolically, by having no leaven in our dwellings (see also Christians and the Days of Unleavened Bread). This annual reminder helps Christians better focus on the need to try to live without sin.

Just as you are not to have a little leaven then, you are not to have a little sin in your life as it affects you (cf. Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6; James 2:8-13):

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Christians, however, still sin, but upon confessing them, Jesus will forgive them:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

But that does not mean we are to deliberately and intentionally sin and remain in it:

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

Sometimes the sin is so within one that it seems to defy human will. Notice some of what the Apostle Paul wrote:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)

Jesus also said, "with men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

We all have lost the struggle with sin at times, but through Christ we can overcome.

Jesus was tempted as we are and understands:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

No matter how much you feel you messed up, you still can boldly go to the throne of grace to obtain mercy.

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Humanism says people can do everything on their own. The Bible teaches that we need Jesus.

James actually gives a way to deal with covetousness and other sins:

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:6-10)

If you will humble yourself before God and resist the devil, God will lift you up and you will not need to be a slave to sin (John 8:34-36). The devil appeals to pride, covetousness, and self-deceit.

Do Not Put Yourself in a Place that You Are as Tempted to Sin

There are also practical, physical, considerations that can help you overcome sin.

Pay close attention to circumstances where your deceitful heart is leading you astray.

When you pray, "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13, KJV), the implication is that you do not intentionally place yourself in areas to be tempted.

For example, if one is inclined to overly gamble, one should avoid going to casinos or visiting cities such as Las Vegas.

One who is inclined to smoke should not hang out with others who smoke. Nor should they ever buy cigarettes. However, since this is very difficult habit to break, sometimes one may find replacement behaviors or some other physical item helpful to break the habit. But if someone wants to stop smoking, they really need to stop buying cigarettes.

As far one's diet goes, God tells His people to "eat what is good" (Isaiah 55:2), thus Christians should be careful about their diets and not eat that which is not good for them.

Jesus lived without sin (Hebrews 4:5) and the Bible teaches that we do not have to allow sin in our lives to live either, but we are to put on Christ:

13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14)

When it comes to alcohol, one should not hang out with those that overly drink. Notice what the Apostle Peter wrote:

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles — when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:1-4)

Peter even warns that some will think it strange if you stop such improper behaviors, but that is what Christians are to do. The Book of Proverbs warns:

10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10)


33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Christians are not to run with the crowd and go along with the world. Sin grows (James 1:15) and spreads (Romans 5:12). Jesus warned:

36 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:36)

So, do not fall for wrong actions or traditions, even if your family endorses them.

Also, be careful about temptations related to money and wealth:

6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Some follow improper schemes to cheat people for money. Some will not give tithes and offerings (see also Tithing Questions and Some Answers).

When it comes to sexual immorality, the Apostle Paul wrote:

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)

One flees sexual by not getting oneself in a situation that could be somewhat expected to possibly lead to it, or immediately leaving if it appears possible.

And Jesus taught:

27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish (Matthew 5:27-29)

So, it is not just doing something wrong that is sin, but also wishing to do the sin is a sin. And if internet pornography is a problem for someone, then they should avoid the internet completely--at least for a while. They also should not go to improper movies, have or buy improper magazines, watch television programs that incite lust, etc.

But you have to do more than avoid temptation: you are supposed to do good (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35).

Now you may say that you do not have a problem with gambling, alcohol, drugs, fornication, or pornography, and if you do not, then that is good. But probably all of us have been guilty of the type of murder that Jesus warned against:

21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger (Matthew 5:21-22)

And furthermore, notice what Jesus called the greatest commandment:

29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31)

I would submit that this first commandment is the commandment that is violated the most, by probably everyone on the planet, Christian and non-Christian alike. Anytime you sin, you show God that you love something more than Him. The second is also violated a lot.

Basically, humans have a very difficult time getting sufficiently serious about God and His ways to put them above EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME, in their lives.

As Christians, it is not just enough not to sin, we are to do the work of God. Furthermore, consider that when you pray God is not limited to what He can give you--in other words do not neglect to pray for major change, not to just not sin, but to do and support His work.

Jesus taught and warned:

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:25-27)

Christians need to do the true work of God no matter what it costs. This involves personal growth, trusting and loving God, loving others, and supporting God's end time work.

But there are rewards for doing so:

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:3-5)

We Christians must truly trust God and commit our ways to God.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. (Psalms 20:6-7)

If Christians truly trust in God, and not themselves, they will be saved.

That is part of why Jesus taught:

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)

Notice it is God's will that is to be done and what we are to pray for, as well as His kingdom to come.

Notice what God really wants:

8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Satan's problem was that he refused to walk humbly. He was the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14)--he had it all--but his pride got in the way (cf. Ezekiel 28:17). Humans often let their pride get in the way (Proverbs 29:33)--and pride puffs people up (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6).

Yet, Christians are to try to think like God:

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)

Jesus had more than we humans can imagine, yet He was humble enough to give it up to serve and die for us. That is the attitude to have to truly overcome.

Overcoming is Important

Overcoming is important.

Christians are told to overcome evil:

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

1...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1)

Evil can overcome and sin can ensnare us, but Christians are to overcome evil with good. We are to overcome the world:

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

Traditionally, we have been taught that specifically in the world, we must overcome Satan, society, and self.

Satan is "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV). He is a deceiver (John 8:44). We have to fight against him other wicked spirits:

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Notice how we are to handle this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Satan is also "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2) and from the time of Adam and Eve he has had influence on human society.

Many obey the wishes of society or their own flesh than God. The Apostle Paul wrote:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:16-19)

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 7:14-8:1)

Christians are to be diligent:

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)

Jesus will supply you what you need if you are diligent.

Overcomers from the different churches of Revelation are promised rewards:

1...Ephesus...7 To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:1,7)

4...Smyrna...11 He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:4,11)

12...Pergamos...17 To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:12,17)

18...Thyatira...26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations — 27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' — as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:18,26-28)

1...Sardis...5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:1,5)

7...Philadelphia... 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. (Revelation 3:12)

14...Laodicea...21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:14,21-22)

Thus, there are various rewards promised to those who overcome.

Pray, study the Bible, meditate, fast, and live life as a Christian (see also Living as a Christian: How and Why? and/or the video version Living as a Christian: How and Why?).

If you have a problem to overcome, pray.

But you probably are telling yourself, I have done that before and still have not overcome.

So, then what should you do?


And if that is does not seem to help enough, then, pray more.

Take a lesson from those who successfully lose weight and keep it off. Surveys have found that the number 1 rule of successful weight-loss is to keep doing the right thing, even when it looks like one is failing. The scale might say someone is failing, but if they do the right thing anyway, and keep doing it, they are the ones that will be successful. Do not give up when discouraged or it looks like you keep failing. Even if you actually are faling, keep trying to do the right thing.

The Apostle Paul wrote that Christians are to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It may be for whatever problem you need to overcome you may need to pray more than you have.

I will also add that if you are on your knees praying that, at least for many problems, stops you from engaging in the improper behavior you need to overcome. Remember that although God's thoughts are not your thoughts (Isaiah 55:7-8).

Try to honestly see yourself as God sees you. Be willing to understand that you do need to change. The Apostle Peter wrote:

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)

The Bible teaches that you can overcome:

36 As it is written:

"For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36-39)

Christians are to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

Leaven puffs up by creating space for air to fill in.

I remember the late Herbert W. Armstrong teaching that the best way to get air out of a cup was to put something else in it. As Christians we are to be filled with the Spirit of God as that helps us put the effects of sin/leaven out of our lives.

What he said was consistent with the following:

18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)

Those that pray can be filled with the Holy Spirit and better proclaim the word of God:

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

After praying Proverbs 3:5-6 (about trusting God), I normally add:

May we (Christians) be filled with your Spirit, may we be filled with love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, kindness, meekness, and faith, against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

Grant us humility, wisdom, and understanding (Proverbs 4:5; 15:33).

Help us to be your prophets (1 Corinthians 14:1), your examples (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7), your witnesses (cf. Hebrews 12:1; 1 John 5:10; Revelation 11:3-12), may we have one or more gifts of healing and tongues (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

The Spirit of God helps us in our weaknesses:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26)

Unlike Christians who are supposed to be filled with God's Holy Spirit, those who do not wish to retain God in their knowledge are filled with unrighteousness:

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

Christians are not to approve the sin of others. So, if you have certain improper tendencies yourself, do not do them around others.

Also, realize that since God knows all and sees all, you really do not "get away" with sin. Furthermore, notice:

25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. (Psalms 18:25-26)

If you want God to bless you and treat you better, do not try to play games with Him or with sin.

Notice something else in the Psalms:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression. (Psalms 19:7-13)

If you are properly keeping the law of God and asking praying as you should, God will also assist you with your secret faults. Some that perhaps you or others do not know about you.

Christians Need to Wait and Endure

One difficulty about overcoming sin is that it often takes time. Christians realize that they are to become more patient, though this is difficult.

The Bible teaches:

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! (Psalms 27:14)

34 Wait on the Lord,
And keep His way,
And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. (Psalms 37:34)

9 I will wait for You, O You his Strength;
For God is my defense.
10 My God of mercy shall come to meet me;
God shall let me see my desire on my enemies. (Psalms 59:9-10)

5 My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him. (Psalms 62:5)

3 I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God. (Psalms 69:3)

17 And I will wait on the Lord,
Who hides His face from the house of Jacob;
And I will hope in Him. (Isaiah 8:17)

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Galatians 5:5)

Christians not only have to wait, we also have to endure:

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

12 If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:12-13)

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:12-21)

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

The idea of enduring carries with it the concept that the waiting will not always be easy. The goal is not just to not sin, but to be like God.

You Can Overcome Sin

The problem of human sin is that we all simply do not trust God enough. We often let our pride and lusts get in the way.

One way to help overcome is to remember to pray daily to trust God (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).

Understand that your sins hurt, not only yourself and others, but prevent God from blessing you as He would like. Do not put yourself unnecessarily in compromising positions or locations--do not enable yourself or others to sin.

Remember that if we are converted and have the Holy Spirit, are diligent, and pray, and are willing to change, we "can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13), because as Jesus said, "with men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

The Bible teaches that "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). But you must truly trust God to not sin in many instances.

So what should you do?

Pray and change.

If that does not seem to work, pray and change more.

If that does not seem to work, pray and change more.

Keep doing that and eventually you will change.

Through God's help, prayer, and patient endurance, you can overcome sin.

A sermon video of related interest is available: How YOU Can Overcome Sin.

Back to home page

Thiel B. Overcoming sin. http://www.cogwriter.com/overcoming-sin.htm (c) 2013/2014/2017/2020 0221