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Friday, May 21, 2010

Do Not Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body - Part 2

By Justin Edwards

In Part 1 of his series on Romans 6:11-14, John Piper explained the seditious power of sin able to take our God-given desires captive and turns our bodies into instruments of unrighteousness. Sin succeeds by corrupting our desires and deceitfully makes them appear compelling and rewarding. These desires then lie to us with half truths that it "will feel good," but ultimately these fleeting pleasures of sin soon become remorse, misery, loss, and destruction.

But as new creations, we see that the old man was held captive by these deceitful lust. Ephesians 4:20-24,

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Then in 1 Peter 1:13-16 we are charged to "gird up our loins" and no longer be conformed to the lusts we were trapped in that were the result of being ignorant of the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 

As sin has made war against our very soul (1 Peter 2:11), we must know the strategy to defeat it. The first thing we must understand is that we cannot fight sin sucessfully unless our sins are forgiven. In other words, being justified by faith is foundational to sanctification; we don't get holy to get justified, we get justified to get holy. Piper outlines 6 strategies for us to engage in in order to successfully wage war against the power of sin:

  • Strategy #1 - Christ died for your sin
  • Strategy #2 - You died and rose with Christ
  • Strategy #3 - We have become united with Christ
  • Strategy #4 - God justifies us
  • Strategy #5 - Consider yourselves dead to sin
  • Strategy #6 - Say no - and choose God!

Piper goes into great detail about each of these strategies, so please take the time to listen to the message. It is important to note that strategy #5  is a mental and volitional act preceding direct engagement with temptation. It's something we do with reason and will. We have to have our minds made up before the temptation comes. It's the battle before the battle. This is done in Christ Jesus and we must rest on His finished work and the grace we now find ourselves in. Piper explains,

Notice that this deadness to sin and life to God is "in Christ." Paul is still, amazingly, at the objective level of what is true outside of yourself. He is pointing you still to a reality about you that is objective and external to yourself. In the strategy of verse 11, your death to sin and life to God is not yet something in experience. Paul is saying: first bring your mind and heart into alignment with all that objective reality in the first four steps: Christ died for you, you died in him, you were united with him by God's doing through faith, you were justified. Now think this way. Know yourself this way. Seize this reality as who you truly are. Welcome and embrace this work of God and all it means for you as your treasure in life. (This is why I said that this strategy is an extension of the faith of Strategy #4. Reckoning ourselves to have died and risen with Christ is believing it and embracing it with all its promises as precious beyond all earthly things.)

We must then directly engage the sin when temptation comes upon us. The essence of Strategy #6 is not just saying no to the temptation, but saying YES to God. When sin sends these hijacked desires to tempt us, we must prefer another ruler, God. We must prefer God over sin. We must treasure Jesus Christ and prefer Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin. We are dead to sin and its desires, therefore when we meet sin we must look at God as a treasure and He becomes preferable. So much the more we must prepare ourselves before we are even confronted with sin. When we immerse ourselves in prayer and study of God's Word, we are conformed to the likeness of Christ, and our minds are renewed unto His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Then when faced with temptation and the power of sin behind it, we can confidently employ the final strategy to say no because we prefer the desires of God over the desires of sin.  Jesus becomes preferable to all other things.

O labor to know what God has done for you in Christ. And look to him continually until you see him as preferable to all other things.

Please follow the link for 3 listening options and the transcript: Do Not Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body - Part 2

For Part 1:

Do Not Let Sin Reign in Your Mortal Body - Part 1


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