To be perfectly honest I'm just about ready to give up trying to be a good person. It seems like every time I try to do the right thing something happens and I crash and make things even worse. And following each failed attempt I become more and more despondent. That feels awful! Romans 7:14 might as well be my life verse—“The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.” I'm a slave to sinning and I can't see a way to stop. So what's the point in trying?
It's just like every time I try and eat healthier. I'll do OK for a week or two, and then the temptation from the treats showing up at work overwhelms me and I have six donuts in one afternoon. Two weeks of hard work ruined by donuts! Maybe I can think of sins in the same way I now think of donuts: it's OK to have them as long as I put in a few extra laps at the track.
Our Problem—We battle the flesh.
The flesh is our sinful nature we are born with, inherited from Adam (Ps. 51:5). Seeking to satisfy its own appetites and cravings it expresses itself in our thoughts and actions in a way that rebels against and opposes the spiritual nature and life of God.
Although we are Christians, we still struggle with sin in our flesh (Gal. 5:17-21). If we live according to the flesh we will reap dead works. Living in the realm of the flesh renders us powerless against our spiritual enemies, the devil, and his kingdom. The battleground between the flesh and the Spirit is between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh.
The flesh can never be reformed or improved. It must be executed and replaced by a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). Jesus came to condemn sin in the flesh. That not only includes sin's penalty, but also sin's power. When Christ was crucified your sinful flesh was too, freeing you as a believer in Christ to serve Him (Rom 6:6).
We take hold of Christ's victory over the flesh and overcome our selfish passions through the power of the Holy Spirit when we walk in the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:13).
- Honestly acknowledge your sinful behaviour before God, agreeing with what the Bible says about your sin. Even though believers are born again through the Spirit of God, we still possess the old nature with its desires that wars with the new nature and the desires that come from the Spirit.
- Recognize that God made a provision to deal with your sin nature at the cross. Your old self was crucified with Christ so that its power would be broken and you would be free (Rom. 6:6). Now you are free to live the life that God intended as you live by faith in Christ empowered by the Spirit (Gal. 2:20).
- As a believer in Christ consider yourself dead to sin. (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:5). You do not have to die, you have to accept the fact that you already died with Christ and so are now dead to the allurements of the flesh. You are alive with Christ because you died with Christ.
- Put off sinful habits. From a practical standpoint, the Christian purposely avoids feeding the old, fleshly nature so it is starved of its desires and eventually dies (Eph. 4:21, 25).
- Put on Christian character. In this the Christian practices new behaviours that are driven by the Spirit (1 Tim. 6:11; Rom. 13:14; Eph. 4:20-24; Gal. 5: 22-23).
- Walk in the Spirit, which involves constant surrender to the control of God's Holy Spirit Who empowers believers to live uprightly before God and not obey the flesh's desires (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:11; Gal. 5:16; Gal. 3: 27; Eph. 5: 18).