Overcoming sin can be as simple, as obeying Jesus who told a man recently healed, "SIN NO MORE", yet it is not usually that simple. Apparently in this man's case stopping sinning affected his healing and not having more physical problems. Overcoming sin can help with many blessings from God including eternal life. When someone asked Jesus about what they should do to have eternal life, Jesus first response was "KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS" and then clarified by mentioning some of the Ten Commandments. Some Christians have made up teachings to discount or eliminate the law and the commandments but Jesus says the law will not change until "EARTH PASS AWAY". In case you have noticed, earth is still here. When we consider blessings from God, the greatest blessing is to have eternal life. Many want God's blessings and yet they do not want to give up their favorite sins to receive them. Please be clear that just because God has blessed you at times does not mean that He has changed His mind about your sins or now approves of them1.
Another time when Jesus was saying that what comes out of a person "contaminates spiritually", He mentioned some of the same commandments and he mentions other sins like "evil thoughts". Yes our evil thoughts can range from unforgiveness and anger to lust and X rated fantasies. Evil thoughts may provide some private entertainment but with God, nothing is private. While society debates about online flirtation being infidelity, most flirtation involves some "evil thoughts". A person may say that their flirting does not involve evil thoughts rather is just having fun yet if the person receiving the flirting develops evil thoughts, they have been caused to sin. Jesus tells us it is very serious if we cause someone to "sin".
Another favorite sin for some Christians that Jesus mentioned is "fornication". Many develop teachings about this sin to accommodate their lustful desires. Some translators will translate the Greek word as "sexual immorality" or "sexual sins" which could be an attempt by the translators to make the translation less confrontational with today's lifestyle. However it appears that the most correct translation is "fornication", and "adultery" which is different is also mentioned in the same verse. Fornication refers to sex between unmarried people whereas adultery involves at least one married person. In our very effective wedding ministry that frequently helps people involved in the sin of fornication, we meet people who are getting married who will volunteer that they want to stop "living in sin". Others who identify themselves as Christians will say they are "common-law married". When Jesus told the woman at the well, "Really you have had five husbands. But the man you live with now is not your husband", the statement clarified that there is marriage and divorce and that shacking up is not marriage or common-law marriage. "Fornication" is a sin and it can hinder blessing from God just like other sins.
A sin Jesus also talks about is "saying bad things about people" which frequently may be considered slander or gossip. In many Christian churches if people stopped gossiping, there would be noticeable silence. In the world many, so called TV "news" programs wouldn't have anything to talk about if they didn't gossip.
Another sin that Jesus mentions is "pride". Our society frequently encourages pride as a good thing. Jesus is very clear that if we want to follow Him we need to "deny" ourselves. Eliminating pride or denying ourselves is not an encouragement to have low self-esteem but rather putting what God wants ahead of what we want or desire, like Jesus did. Eliminating our pride and personal desires and putting what God wants first in our lives will help in eliminating sins like fornication, stealing, evil thoughts, selfishness, anger, saying bad things about people, wanting what others have, failing to honor parents, worry, not telling the truth, adultery, etc2.
# 1 acknowledge
As we become aware of the danger of sins and how they affect receiving blessings from God and contaminate us spiritually, our first step is to acknowledge them. We live in a society where even people caught in the act of a crime will say they are not guilty. Taking responsibility for one's behavior is not as common as justifying one's behavior or blaming someone else. One time a man told me his wife of many years divorced him for committing adultery but that actually he was "raped". He was a large man who looked like he could defend himself and the more he talked, it became obvious that what he called "rape" was that the woman made herself available to him for sex. He was not willing to take responsibility for giving in to his lustful response. Unfortunately for most to overcome sin it is not as simple as being obedient. If a person takes responsibility for their sins and acknowledges that they are sins, they have just made the first step in overcoming them.
Example worry: Jesus says, "do not worry". Some would suggest worry or thinking negative is not a sin and yet Jesus says, "do not worry" and when He says "do not murder" they have no problem calling it a sin. When we worry or think negative we do not trust or have faith in God. When we worry we are usually thinking selfish. To overcome worry, we need to admit we worry or think negative and that it is a sin, since we are being disobedient.
#2 want to overcome
The second step is to want to overcome the sin. Some people enjoy their sins like "evil thoughts" and consider them like what society calls victimless sins. When spiritual contamination may prevent us from receiving God's blessings and could ultimately result in spending eternity in hell, we are the victims of our sins, so they are not victimless.
Example worry: Some do not want to stop worrying. Some may say they are just concerned or justify their negative thinking by explaining how good it is to be cautious. We need to want to stop worrying and thinking negative.
#3 turn away
If we have a desire to overcome our sins and we want to "Turn away from your sins" or repent, we need to do it. We need to make a conscious effort to stop worrying and thinking negative and trust God more.
#4 ask for help
The next step is as Jesus says, "pray that you will not be tempted. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak". Praying means to ask God to help us be free of the particular sin. Remember Jesus recommends we pray daily, "please don't bring us into temptation and please rescue us from the evil one". Like with worry example, we need to pray daily for God to help us not be tempted to worry and to not give in to the old habits of worry.
#5 take authority
Remember if we have difficulty overcoming a sin like it is an addiction, that demons may be involved and it can do no harm to take spiritual authority over them in Jesus "name". Persist in praying and working at overcoming the sin until free. Have no doubt that demons love to keep people from trusting God and following God by worrying about stuff3.
1. Jn 5:14 (KJ); Mt 19:16-19; 5:18 (NKJ)
2. Mk 7:20-22 (ET); Mt 18:7; Jn 4:18 (IC); Lk 9:23; 22:42 (NKJ)
3. Mt 6:25-34; 19:18 (NI); Mt 4:17 (GN); Mk 14:38 (IC); Mt 6:13 (ET); Mk 16:17 (IC)
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