A word that holds many connotations, a word that comes with a lot of baggage.
This word means different things to different people, mostly having to do with your religious background. To some, when we hear the word we immediately feel self condemned and ashamed. To others, we feel as though the word is almost a taboo, like it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t really affect us that much. To most, it’s a word we hear and shrug off, because we know we are bad, we’ve heard a million times that Jesus died for our sins, so what’s the point really of caring about this “sin stuff” anymore? It’s apparently been taken care of.
So, for the Christian, what does it mean to “wage war on sin” as Paul talks about in Romans 7:23? Before we can answer this question we need to have a proper understanding of this often misunderstood word.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sin as: an offense against the law of God.
The Bible defines sin in Romans 3: falling short of the glory of God.
The Bible also specifies that this sin, falling short of God’s glory, is something that every human being is guilty of. Earlier in Romans 3 Paul states “None is righteous, no, not one;no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
The bible is very clear, we have all sinned, we have all fallen short of God’s glory, and we have therefore all broken God’s law.
Thank you Jesus, that though the “wages of sin is DEATH”, you offer us “the free gift of God which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You saved us from the punishment of death we deserve, and now we have eternal life instead of eternal wrath. Thank you, Jesus.
So, for the Christian, what does it mean to “wage war on sin”?
Though Jesus paid for every sin we commit, and will commit in this life, we will remain in our “sinful bodies of death” (Romans 7:24) until we are with Jesus in heaven. We still sin, and we will sin until Jesus comes back. Thank God we now have the Spirit inside of us, giving us the power to overcome and fight sin. We are not alone, and the power needed to fight and hate sin is now provided through the Holy Spirit.
Now that we have defined sin in broad terms, how does it work itself out in our daily lives?
Anger. Bitterness. Judgement. Pride. Laziness. Lying. Lust. Envy. Gossip.
These are all very common struggles all of us are familiar with.
Our kids are deliberately disobeying us after a very long day, causing us to overreact – anger.
Our close friends don’t include us on their lunch dates – bitterness.
We see an old classmate that is dressed immodestly and think we are holier than her – judgement.
We think that we are pretty good at getting through life and don’t really need God – pride.
The dishes are piling up, the laundry is overflowing, and that friend really needs some encouragement, but we decided once again to push it off until tomorrow – laziness.
We really love this shirt on sale at Target, but it’s not in the budget, so we just add the extra expense to the grocery bill – lying.
No one knows of the dark and sensual romance novels we’re reading that cause our minds to wander – lust.
Their car is newer, their husband is nicer, and they’re always happy…we just want their life – envy.
Everyone at work is talking about how terrible the manager is and we chime in – gossip.
We are struck every day, multiple times a day, with opportunities to sin and not glorify God in our hearts and minds. Sin has its way of creeping into all of our motives and thoughts, so what are we to do? I think there are a few key scriptures I’d like to share that will encourage us as we press on in this fight.
- “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
As we seek Jesus and let God transform the way we think, we see that our hearts grow in love for God and for others. The ways we are tempted to sin against God and others is less appealing because we have a fresh lens of the gospel given to us through God transforming our minds.
- “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Confess. Confess. Confess. This is probably one of the hardest commandments because who wants to open up and tell others your deep and dark issues? I know that when I first started being honest with others about my sins and my struggles it was terrible and terrifying. But, as time has gone on, I’ve seen the promise come true and I’ve experienced true healing from confession. Now, I am eager to be honest and confess because I know God uses it to heal me, and also to encourage others to do the same.
- “You, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
As we understand the vastness of the love God has for us we will not be able to remain unphased and content in our sin. God hates sin so much that He killed His own Son. As we grow in love for God and are filled with His fullness, we will hate our sin and seek to fight for the sake of His glory and His honor.
Emily and her husband, Jake, are serving as missionaries in South Asia. They are passionate about reaching people with the gospel by caring for their hearts as they meet their physical needs.