Praying and reading our Bible are very important for a number of reasons, most of all for experiencing intimacy with God. In fact, these are essential for us. Not in a legalistic, religious, check-list way, but in a relational way. When I came out of legalism, I realized I had no idea how to really be intimate with God. Praying and reading the Bible was such a “performance” that I asked God to teach me what He meant. It’s all about a relationship!
Many Christians have read their Bibles and prayed in hopes of overcoming a sin which continually defeats them such as anger, lying, pornography, people pleasing, never being wrong, superiority, self-condemnation, sexual lust, performing for acceptance, addictions and more. The next time they fail, they may think as I once did, “If I prayed and read my Bible even more, I would be able to stop committing this sin.” It becomes a vicious cycle. Sin – confess my sin to God – pray more – read the Bible more – sin – confess my sin to God – pray more – read the Bible more – etc.
Some will get an accountability partner in hopes that when they are tempted to commit that particular sin again, they can contact them to prevent them from falling into this sin again. It’s fine to have someone to share our struggles with who will pray for us and encourage us but most of us who have done this have discovered it doesn’t stop our sinning problem. God has only one way of defeating the sins which keep defeating us – grace! And the (complete) Gospel explains this to us clearly. In fact, Romans 6:14 says, Sin shall not be master over you for you are not under law but under grace.” But, what exactly does this mean?
Grace means that when we are tempted, we need to face the temptation head on with the truth of our union with Christ. What most of us do when tempted is say to ourselves things like, “I am a Christian. I shouldn’t feel this way or do this.” While this is true, it only serves to put us under the law, turning us to the bankruptcy of self-effort. We soon find ourselves doing the sin we said we shouldn’t do. Why? Because sin actually gains power from the law causing us to sin! (1st Cor. 15:56) The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin in the Law.
The “grace way” of dealing with temptation is something like this. We need to take ourselves out from under the law in our minds by saying or praying, “I’m free to do this sin because I am not under the law. God will still love me and accept me if I do this.” (Romans 7:6, Romans 8:1) Because my old identity in Adam which loved to ______ (insert your sin) died with Jesus on the cross. (Romans 6:6) I am not a ______ person. (insert angry person, pornographic person, etc.) As a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), I am a ______ (insert your identity in Christ which is the opposite of your sin – for example, a forgiver in Christ, a pure, righteous, blameless person in Christ). Jesus, please live through me and take care of this temptation right now. (Galatians 2:20). This is not a formula. It is us responding relationally with God, based on our union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. I’ve been amazed through the years as to how many people have experienced victory over temptation through understanding grace (their union with Christ). Some have asked me what to do if this does not “work”. I tell them that it usually means they are no longer dealing with the flesh but with demonic resistance. We must at that point take authority over our enemy based on Jesus’ victory over him and our union with Him – still overcoming by grace (what has already been done for the believer)!
What is your sin which keeps defeating you? God’s only solution is His grace! Choose to believe it and live from it. If you need some confidential help, please call our office at 704.522.9026 for a consultation with one of our very gifted counselors. We will be glad to walk with you to show you how God’s grace can be God’s solution to your struggles with sin. Contact us today! We would love to help.