Is it possible to overcome sin, and if so, how?
The short answer is yes, but there are qualifications. And the Bible tells us how. First, it is essential to recognise that we live in the midst of an unseen spiritual battle. This battle is about who wins your mind—to which side, good or evil, you eventually surrender. Satan wants us to choose a life based on self-glorification and self-indulgence (our default mode), so that we do not want to choose God. Jesus, as Satan’s opposition, woos us with love, His only weapon, in the hope that we will respond and worship Him.
We are on this field of battle (see Ephesians 6:12), so we need to be armed accordingly. Ephesians 6:10, 11 says, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” And in order to win a battle, there are two important things to know—the enemy’s strategy and what you need to protect yourself when attacked.
The devil’s strategy directs us into the following temptations:
- idolatry (putting anything before God, including time, choice of entertainments, even our relationships (1 Corinthians 10:14)
- discouragement over past confessed sins and present failures (Zechariah 3:1–5)
- sexual immorality and materialism (1 Timothy 6:10, 11)
- self-righteousness (thinking that we are doing good on our own and do not need God (Galations 6:3)
- indifference to our need of Jesus.
The “armaments” to overcoming temptation are listed in Ephesians 6:14–18:
• A tunic of truth. This is about acceptance of and trust in Jesus—His death and resurrection. From this you can enter into a growing experience living a life of integrity before God. Practical steps include: reading your Bible daily; digging deeper into it rather than a mere surface reading; attending a Bible study group where you can learn God’s Word through group discussions.
• A breastplate of righteousness. Accepting that Jesus is our example of righteousness, and that when we confess our sins, believing and trusting that God has truly forgiven us our sins, we will then possess the righteousness of Jesus, Who lived without sinning. The need for the righteousness of Jesus reminds us that we can never attain righteousness on our own, no matter how good the deeds we do. Pray for the Holy Spirit to replace your corrupted character with the character of Jesus. Practical steps include: meditating on the Word of God; praying for the daily infilling of the Holy Spirit; praying for conviction as to our unconfessed sins; participation in a program of daily devotion.
• Feet shod with the gospel of peace. This involves sharing with others what you have learnt and experienced while growing in Christ, or simply put, how God has changed your life and your desires. Sharing strengthens your faith. Practical steps include: asking God daily for an opportunity to share Him, and how to share, be it in casual witness or a direct Bible study presentation.
• A shield of faith. This means trusting that God’s love hasn’t stopped for you even when experiencing tough times—the arrows of discouragement the devil shoots at us. Trust that God still hears your prayers, your cry for help, and that He will fulfil His promises to you and strengthen you. Practical steps include: praying for the small things of your daily routine (we often think that we can care for those ourselves); looking for small sweet experiences of discovering God’s presence in your life daily; praying throughout the day, listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and following them; and being obedient to God’s Word, leaving the consequences to Him.
• The helmet of salvation. John 6:40 says, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life and I will raise Him up at the last day.” Trust that Jesus’ promise of eternal life is real. This means maintaining a faith-saving relationship with Him. Practical steps include: living with the mindset that you are God’s adopted son or daughter and thus have citizenship in heaven; asking the Holy Spirit to guide you to identify the worldly things in your life that distract from or interfere with your relationship with God, which He wants you to let go; loving the things of heaven and spending time thinking and speaking of them (Philemon 4:8).
• The sword of the Spirit in hand. The Bible is our main weapon. A soldier needs to know how to wield his weapon to effect. This means knowing the Bible well. Practical steps include: memorising God’s promises so as to refute the devil’s attacks, reciting them daily; seeking a mentor to lead you through and explain the Bible; finding an opportunity to be a teacher of what you have learnt.
Every month, our Discovery Bible correspondence school instructors, Wayne Boehm, Charissa Fong and Christiana Leimena, delve into the Bible to answer your questions. If you have a question, email <[email protected]>.