In my last post, we explored how God sometimes does not answer our prayer because we seek temporary relief of our conscience or situation but not to know more of Christ. We fight sins, but we fail to fight sin itself.
So how do we fight sin? Paul says, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1). Bringing “holiness to completion” is only possible “since we have these promises.” We fight sin by holding fast to the promises of God. The Puritan John Owen says:
Those who are Christ’s, and are acted in their obedience upon gospel principles, have the death of Christ, the love of God, the detestable nature of sin, the preciousness of communion with God, a deep-grounded abhorrency of sin as sin, to oppose to any seduction of sin, to all the workings, strivings, fightings of lust in their hearts (“On the Mortification of Sin,” ch. 9).
Notice the promises that we hold to. We hold to the “death of Christ.” Because of the death of Christ, we who believe in Christ are dead to sin and have power to walk “in newness of life” (Rom 6:2–4). We are dead to sin because of the death of Christ. We also hold to the love of God, demonstrated to us in the gift of God’s Son; “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32). We hold to the “preciousness of communion with God.” God has opened up the way to Himself. As we draw near to Him, then we find great strength for our soul. When we begin to delight in God as God, then we abhor sin as sin and recognize the “detestable nature of sin.”
The problem is that many of us fight the raging bonfires of sin with the squirt gun of the law. We tell ourselves, “This is wrong,” “Christians are not supposed to do this,” “Why am I feeling this way?”, or “I hope nobody sees me doing this!”. But such motivations to fight sin are woefully inadequate. Focusing only on what we are supposed to do does not give us power to do what we are supposed to do. Again, John Owen says:
But now if a man be so under the power of his lust that he hath nothing but law to oppose it…it is most evident that sin hath possessed itself of his will and affections to a very great prevalency and conquest” (“On the Mortification of Sin,” ch. 9).
May God give us a sense of delight in God as God that we might hate sin as sin and fight it by holding fast to the promises of God.