Achieving Victory Over Sin

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)

The internal conflict Christians experience between our new creation in Christ Jesus and our lingering sinful nature will always produce some tension and anxiety within us, even as we boast in the enduring love of God, who is working His will in and through us. Our all-wise God uses this tension to keep us alert and watchful over the way we live our lives, asking for forgiveness when we fail, and constantly seeking His help to grow into greater Christ-likeness. 

Christians are told to “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12b-13) 

This obligation to work out our salvation doesn’t mean we are to do good works to achieve salvation. If that were so, it would negate the clear teaching of the Bible that we’re saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. Rather, it means for us to use that ever-present tension within us to spur us toward godly living. Without that tension inside of us that the Holy Spirit produces, we would have little inclination to fight against the urgings of our sinful nature.

It may be argued that fear and trembling appear incompatible with the certainty of God working in us. It might be said that you can’t have assurance of salvation if both were present. However, God often uses warnings in Scripture to help preserve His true children in their faith, while at the same time warning others of the danger of falling away. (See Hebrews 10:19-39 as an example.)

Yes, we can be anxiously confident about our relationship with God since there is so much remaining sin in us. Therefore, let’s walk very carefully, anxious to avoid sin, and constantly asking for forgiveness as we fail. As long as there is sin in our lives, there is room for anxiety. So, be on the alert. It’s absolutely mandatory. We can’t stray contentedly from the One we love. Yet we know we are capable of it. We can be confident about God but anxious about ourselves because we fail all too often.

We will follow the Spirit more fully as we allow the knowledge of truth to permeate our minds and hearts. Therefore, the Bible tells us, Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … (Romans 12:2a, Colossians 3:16a) Put on the “mind of Christ” and you will live.

By Jim Connell

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