Lately there has been quite a lot of discussion regarding sin. I have had people of all ages ask me basically the same question: How do I stop sinning? It seems that especially in today’s environment, where we are constantly bombarded with message of violence, sex, competitiveness, and more – compounded with the mixed signals from most of the religious leaders of today, we more than ever need to understand the freedom that is in Christ Jesus, and we also greatly need to understand exactly how He sets us free.
The vast majority of the people I have spoken with tell me the same thing… that they are struggling with their sin and that they want to stop. They tell me that they are praying constantly for help, and when I ask them what precisely they are praying for, they say “Self-Control”.
They tell me that they feel the same as Paul wrote about… referring of course to Romans 7:15 in which Paul writes the following
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”
Basically in modern English, Paul is saying that the things he is not allowed to do, he does, and the things that he is supposed to do, he resists and doesn’t do.
And this is what those people struggling with sin and self-control say that they were feeling like.
My friends, if you share this sentiment, I am about to set you free by the glorious work of Jesus Christ today. The answer is only a little bit further down in the scripture starting in Romans 8:1-6:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Take special note of verses 5 and 6 (the last two sentences) and realize that it does not say that we are to be spiritually focused on our works, but it does say that we are to be spiritually minded.
In other words, we are to fill our minds with Jesus, the same advice given in Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
My friends, the Bible does not preach the man-made idea of self-effort or self-control as the answer to our problems. The answer to every ill or difficulty we could ever encounter can be found in some name, and that name is Jesus.
“But James, isn’t self-control a fruit of the Spirit?”
Yes! Exactly! It is a fruit! You have to have the Spirit before you can have the fruit of the Spirit. You can’t have apples without first having and apple tree. Likewise you cannot have the fruits of the Spirit (including self-control) without first having the Spirit, and the way that we have and keep the Spirit is to be spiritually minded, to always have Christ on our minds and in our thoughts.
Once we enlarge our vision of Jesus to the point where we can truly say (and truly believe) that He is our total sufficiency in all things, then we will no longer have any desire for sin. This is the freedom in Christ Jesus.