Sin is a big word in the world of Christianity.
It is the very reason that we find so much suffering in this world, both in a personal and global level.
Christians are called to change – to overcome sin and live a righteous life. If we are to become effective Christians, it is our duty to reject sin, in all its forms, and become more like God and less like us.
In this chapter, let us take a look at what sin is, why it is important to overcome sin, and how we can develop the habit of overcoming sin.
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What is sin?
Before we can overcome sin, we have to know its definition. If we are to really know the truth about sin, we need to go to the source of all knowledge and wisdom, the Bible. We should not rely on any encyclopedia, book, or even ourselves.
One of the saddest things that happened to men and even Christian is that they have become a god of themselves. They thought that they could define what sin is and live their lives according to their definition.
Let us first take a look at the Greek word for sin. It came from the Greek word hamartano. It literally means to
- miss the mark,
- to err,
- to be mistaken,
- to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor,
- to do or go wrong,
- to wander from the law of God, or
- to violate God’s law.
So from these definitions alone, we can see that sin has something to do with breaking God’s law. This is supported by what the Apostle John said in I John 3:4:
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The King James Version puts it this way, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
Webster Dictionary defines transgress as “the act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty; the violation of a law or known principle of rectitude; breach of command.”
In short, the transgression of the law means wickedness and lawlessness.
However, it is not just what we do that makes us sin. It is also what we DON’T do. James said:
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
So in any given situation where you know the right thing to do, and yet you didn’t do it, then you have already committed a sin.
We should not live as a hermit who decides to live in the mountains and seclude ourselves from the civilization for the purpose of avoiding sin.
That’s now how to be a Christian.
Being a Christian is more than just avoiding sin. Christianity means grabbing every opportunity to do good.
Finally, there is one more definition of sin that we need to take heed.
“… for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Our faith represents our belief, creed, and doctrine.
If you are doing something that is not of faith, then you are sinning. For example, celebrating pagan holidays is not of faith.
The first-century Christians don’t celebrate pagan holidays, and yet we see the majority of Christians today celebrating holidays that have pagan origins.
Another example is doing something against your conscience. There are instances that the Bible is not clear on a particular issue. If you think that something is a sin, it is safer to assume it is really a sin rather than violating your conscience.
These are the main biblical definition of sin. Knowing the meaning of sin helps you overcome it. Just like in the battlefield; the best way to defeat your enemy is to know your enemy.
Why should we overcome sin?
Sin is the direct disobedience to the commandments of God. If we break God’s commandments, we are sinning. But what is so bad about sin anyway and why should we overcome sin?
Let me share seven reasons we need to overcome sin.
Reason no. 1: Sin ultimately leads to death
The reason is plain and simple: sin ultimately leads to death. The Bible reveals that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We are all sinners. That’s a given fact. Since we are all sinners, we must face the consequences of our actions. What is the penalty for sin?
“For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Reason no. 2: Sin led to the death of Jesus/Yahshua
Sin is so horrible that it will result in death. Since we cannot save ourselves from sin, it took the life of Christ to redeem us from the penalty of sin which is DEATH! So instead of us dying, Christ died for every single human being who ever lived!
Can you now see how horrible sin is? Sin is so unimaginably horrible, abominable, and repulsive that it took the life of a God to purchase us back from death.
Reason no. 3: Sin leads to suffering and pain
Sin leads to suffering and pain. God created a perfect world, and when sin entered humanity, this world has become chaotic, messy, and far from being a paradise it once has been.
We have seen the negative effects of sin. Sin leads to selfishness, greed, lust, strife, war, poverty, and all the negative things you can think of. What’s more, it will not only harm the individual committing it, but also the people around him/her.
Reason no. 4: Sin has a lasting effect
Sin has its negative consequences in the past, present, and future! Remember the sin of Abraham when he took Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar? He committed this sin thousands of years ago and yet, we can still see its negative effects. Abraham’s descendants are in a constant war and strife with each other.
Reason no. 5: Sin separates us from God
Sin also separates us from God. It can lead us away from Him. Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us:
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your INIQUITIES have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
Reason no. 6: Sin begets sin
We can read a lot of Biblical stories where a small sin led to bigger sins. Think about the adultery of King David. Instead of repenting of his sins, he committed another by murdering Uriah, the Hittite, just to cover his adulterous act.
Sin is no different today. When you break one of God’s Ten Commandments, you are also in danger of breaking the other nine. If you steal, you are also coveting – making you guilty of breaking commandments no. 8 and 10.
Once you committed a sin, it is a slippery road. You won’t notice it for a while but you are sinking deeper and deeper into the trap sin has set.
Reason no. 7: God hates sin
God commands us to avoid sin not because He doesn’t want us to have fun. On the contrary, He perfectly knows that all sin will lead to pain. Most people thought of God as Someone who is against our freedom. But nothing can be farther than the truth!
God loves us and He hates anything that can hurt us. That’s why the Bible tells us:
“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fraudulent mouth, do I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
The problem with sin is it appeals to our human nature. It seems to be so nice and beautiful on the outside, but actually, it is ugly and rotten on the inside. Once we entertain temptation, dwell on it, and finally give in, we will suffer its dire consequences.
When we come to think about it, sin is a choice. NEVER ever think that you can escape the penalties of sin. No matter how small a sin is, it comes with a negative effect.
Sin is appealing because of the pleasure it gives. However, these pleasures, without fail, are just temporary. Are you willing to exchange your eternal salvation for temporary pleasures? Are you ready to trade a minute of worldly and sinful pleasures for a life that never ends?
At the end of the day, no matter how hard we try, we will sin. But this does not mean that we should not do our best in overcoming it. The point is, we need to grow spiritually, day by day, in our Christian walk.
We need to overcome sin because God wants us to live a happier and more blessed life. Sin deprives us of the incredible benefits of following God. So next time you are tempted to sin, remember God’s reward and promises to those who faithfully obey Him.
How to overcome sin?
When we accept the call of God, we are expected to change our ways. To overcome sin means to repent of it. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia, which literally means, to change. As we repent of our sins, we need to change our old evil ways and start living a righteous life.
We already know why we need to overcome sin, but how exactly can we do that? Thankfully, the Bible tells us how. If we are going to overcome sin, we need to read what the Bible say about the subject. So let me share with you some points to remember when overcoming sin.
Point no. 1: Identify the sin
We need to specify the sin that we want to overcome. We must identify the ROOT CAUSE and start from there. It is the very first thing we must do. We cannot stop sinning if we don’t know that we are sinning in the first place. Thus, it is very crucial that you know what sin is.
Sometimes, we have secret sins that we don’t even know. We need to ask God to reveal it to us. If we do ask God, be prepared. Seeing our sins can make us uncomfortable. If we acknowledge our sins, then we are on our way to overcoming sins.
Point no. 2: Avoid the cause of sin
The best way to overcome sin is to withdraw from temptation. Avoiding the triggers of your sin can go a long way. The more you get closer to temptation, the stronger is its pull. The Bible tells us, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12).
If you think that standing in front of the magazine stand tempts you to buy pornographic materials, then by all means, avoid that place.
If you think that your friends cause you to gossip, then by all means avoid them. When confronted with sin, we must run the opposite way – not toward it! (Amos 5:14-15; II Timothy 2:22; I Thessalonians 5:22).
The point is, no matter how strong you think you might be, you will eventually fail when you are constantly exposed to temptations.
Point no. 3: Have the will to overcome the sin
Identifying the sin is easy, but having the willingness and willpower to overcome sin is more difficult. For one, change can be very painful especially when the sin is deeply ingrained in our lives.
Talk is cheap. Even if we tell ourselves that we want to overcome a sin over and over again, that’s useless unless you have the will to really do it.
Changing our sinful habits does not come naturally. It is a conscious effort that we all need to do. Therefore, if you want to be successful in overcoming sin, then you must make a commitment to do so.
Point no. 4: Remember the deadly consequences of sin
One of the best ways to develop the willingness to overcome sin is to know its NEGATIVE effects. Sometimes, we get too short-sighted and only focus on the fleeting pleasures sin has to offer.
However, we know that at the end of the day, sin has its negative effects that far OUTWEIGH the initial pleasure it can give!
Think about it: sin has its short-term, long-term, and eternal consequences. At the final analysis, sinning is not worth it. It is better to endure for a moment and be deprived of the pleasures of sin than to suffer its deadly consequences in the future.
Point no. 5: Set your mind on the reward of overcoming sin
You also need to identify the rewards of overcoming sin. If we endure and overcome sin, God will grant us eternal life, membership to His family, rulership in His Kingdom, and joy that never ends!
Now, are you willing to exchange those rewards for a brief moment of sinful pleasure?
Keeping God’s reward in mind will help us to be motivated and inspired to persevere in our quest to overcome sin.
Point no. 6: Humility is needed to overcome sin
You can never overcome sin if you are full of pride. Proud people can’t sincerely say “sorry.” They are the ones who don’t see the need to identify their sins, overcome it, and ask for forgiveness.
Humility enables us to have a teachable attitude. We need to recognize our GREAT dependence on God and the realization that we are nothing unless God grants us repentance. Without humility, we cannot let God control our lives and mold us according to his will and purpose.
Point no. 7: Replace sinful habits with righteous habits
You don’t eliminate habits; you only replace it. If we are going to overcome sinful habits, we must replace it with righteous habits. It is the most effective way to overcome sin.
When I was in college, I got addicted to playing demonic computer games. One day, I decided to quit, but I wasn’t successful in doing so. I still found myself playing computer games with my friends.
So what I did was I talked to my friends and made a commitment not just to stop playing computer games but also replace it with a good habit. That good habit is playing basketball.
Instead of playing computer games during our free time, we agreed to play basketball. Over time, we forgot about computer games and eventually love to play Basketball more.
This is just one of the many examples of replacing sinful habits with righteous habits. Be creative and learn how to do this as well.
Point no. 8: Seek godly counsel
Overcoming sin does not have to be a one-man battle. We can always obtain the help of our church leaders, ministers, and pastors. God has given them wisdom and they can certainly give you sound advice on how to overcome sin. Since they know you, they can give you a more specific and personalized step-by-step solution to your problem.
Your spouse, family, and church friends can help as well. Find someone whom you trust and you know who live a godly life. More often than not, they also have gone through the same process of overcoming sin and they can give you valuable insights.
Point no. 9: Ask God’s help
We need to realize that we cannot overcome sin by ourselves. We can only do our best, but most often than not, our best is not sufficient. WE NEED GOD’S HELP.
Through prayer and fasting, we can become more spiritually strong in conquering sin. However, these can also be not enough. There is one thing we must all have as Christians to fully tap into the Power of God, which is the Holy Spirit.
If we have the Holy Spirit in us, we gain extra power from God to overcome sin. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to be stirred from within and develop the VEHEMENT zeal to avoid sin and stay away from sinning.
The Holy Spirit only comes through the process of baptism. We need first to recognize our sins, repent of them, accept Christ’s sacrifice, be baptized by God’s minister, and let hands be laid upon us. This complete process helps us to be granted with God’s Holy Spirit.
Point no. 10: Never give up
There are sins that we can quickly overcome, while others can be more difficult. The important thing is that we don’t give up. If we are constantly struggling to overcome a sin, it means that we are still Christians who are alive and kicking.
The greatest tragedy that may happen is when we stop overcoming and we just let sin consume and destroy us.
We may stumble from time to time in our Christian walk, but we must never give up. It is not about how many times we fall, but how many times we get up. So persevere and continue in our Christian walk.
Develop the habit of overcoming sin
Overcoming sin is a lifetime endeavor. As long as we are humans, sin is bound to happen. But this does not give us a license to continue sinning. God sent Jesus/Yahshuaf to pay the penalty of our sins and we must not waste that. God is merciful, but at the same time, just. He knows our hearts and He can see its every intent. He is gracious enough to forgive our sins and fair enough to deliver judgment to those who don’t exert the effort in overcoming sin.
Like how the saying goes, “Just do your best in overcoming sin, and God will do the rest!” Develop the habit of overcoming sin and eventually, you will become a highly effective Christian.