MYTHBUSTERS #1: I can’t stop sinning

mythbusters sinningThe Claim: Christians are sinners, and will never be able to overcome their sinful nature. Every one of us sins hundreds of times a day, and there is absolutely no way to stop.

What the bible says:

Stand in awe, and sin not. (Psalm 4:4)

“Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.” (Daniel 4:27)

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! (Romans 6:1-2)

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6, NLT)

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Ephesians 4:1)

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. (1 Corinthians 15:34)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

“Therefore, if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

The Verdict: BUSTED!

The born again believer has been given all authority over the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19), and has been made free from not only the consequences of sin, but the power of sin itself (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Now this doesn’t mean that if you sin, you are going straight to hell. John tells us we don’t have to sin, but if* we do there is forgiveness:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may sin not. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

People tend to make mistakes. Proverbs doesn’t say “a righteous man never falls”; it says “a righteous man may* fall seven times, but rises again” (Proverbs 24:16). If you slip up, just confess your sin as John instructed and start living right (1 John 1:9).

But the fact remains: sin has no power over you. So, just as Jesus told the adulterous woman, “GO AND SIN NO MORE.”


Note: Notice how the bible uses phrases like “may sin” and “if you sin” as opposed to “will sin” and “when you sin.” According to God, sin is a choice, not a destiny.


My new book UNFAIR ADVANTAGE talks about overcoming sin and living life worthy of God’s calling. Check it out on Amazon.

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What’s Under Your Cushion? (or, White-Washed Couches)

under your cushionSeven months ago, I was up in Big Bear for our youth group’s annual Winter Camp. I woke up at around six and headed down to the main lodge, hoping to curl up on the couch with a bowl of cereal and warm up next to the fireplace. With a bowl of Cap’n Crunch in one hand and a book of matches in the other, I headed over to the fireplace… and was greeted with a cushionless couch.

Apparently, some of the boys had taken them in the night to build forts, shields, and a giant “mega-bed.” They also spent at least an hour playing the “lava” game. Epic, I know, but not what I was hoping to find at 6:12 am. You see, for those of you who own couches (most of my post-college audience, I assume), you know that I didn’t find just a cushionless couch. Concealed for what must’ve been decades beneath those tacky plaid cushions was a hodgepodge of delightful treats.

Where should I start? There was the candy: three and a half gummy worms, about two dozen nerds which had probably started off orange but had since faded to an unappetizingly chalky white, about three-eighths of a jawbreaker, and what I sure hope was the remnants of a Milky Way bar.

There was also what I assume started off as a single Oreo, a six-sided die, a monopoly house, an almost-empty travel-sized tube of toothpaste and some used dental floss, a “MASH” scorecard (spoiler alert: they all died alone), a used iTunes gift card, and a mysterious sticky substance that was purple in color and salty in taste.

It wasn’t all bad, though. I did manage to find one dime, three nickels, six pennies, and an unidentified silver coin bearing the image of an elderly woman among the other remains.

Jesus once compared the Pharisees and Sadducees to “white-washed sepulchers” (Matthew 23:27). They worked hard to look good on the outside, while on the inside they were dead. They were lost, confused, and filled with sin.

If that exchange took place today, I think He may have called them sofa couches. “You look all clean and vacuumed on the outside, but just look beneath the cushions,” He might’ve said. “For underneath your well-swept cushions are moldy old sandwiches, sticky M&Ms, and the remains of various beverages you have spilt over the years.”

Christians love, love, love to put on a show. We love to look like we have it all together. But ask yourself today, what’s under your cushion? Is everything on the inside nice and clean, presentable for the King of kings? Or do you have a mess on your hands? There’s nothing wrong with getting a little gunk stuck in there every now and then. Just don’t try to hide it. Jesus can’t clean up your couch if you won’t let Him see what’s under the cushions. Deal with it now. Let God clean up the mess so you can walk perfectly before Him today.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)


CHALLENGE: And hey, just for fun, email me pictures of your filthy couches. I need the encouragement to know I’m not the only one!


 

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My newest book, UNFAIR ADVANTAGE, is available on Amazon. Best book you’ll read this summer. It’ll change your life.

The Only Two Steps You Need to Overcome Sin

sin-struggleI work with teenagers, which means I get asked a lot of questions.

“How far is too far?”

“South Park isn’t all that bad, is it?”

“Am I old enough to date?”

And the big one:

“How do I stop sinning?”

I’ve been a Christian for almost ten years now.  And from all of my time spent in the bible, all of the thousands of sermons I’ve heard, and the countless books I’ve read, I have managed to condense all of the teaching on the subject of overcoming sin into two simple guidelines.

Want to overcome sin in your life once and for all?

Here’s how.

1.    Stop looking for steps to overcoming sin 

We often think that there is some secret we have not yet learned, some rule that has not yet been given, some work that has not yet been performed, that is the key to unlocking victorious living.  When we look for something new, we take our eyes off of what has already been done.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  That means the work has already been done.  Jesus isn’t going to come back and do something extra to help you.  It isn’t necessary.  Grace is more than sufficient for all of our needs.  Everything we could ever need was paid for on the cross.

Which leads us to step two.

2.    Stop sinning

It might sound too good to be true, but it really is that simple.  Just stop sinning.

Do you remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery?

“Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

As far as He was concerned, she was more than capable of ending her sinful lifestyle.  And she didn’t even have the Holy Spirit living within her.  How much more capable should you be?

The fact is, every time you or I sin it’s because we made a conscientious decision to do so.  Sure, the devil may have dangled the carrot in front of us, but you choose to reach for it.  And guess what?  God already told us how to overcome satan:

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

We also need to stop blaming our “sinful nature.”  After all, God said the sinful nature has already been dealt with:

“Know this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

That means there isn’t a little guy inside of you forcing you against your will to do a bunch of things you don’t want to do.  We like to think that there is, so that we are able to sidestep any personal responsibility for our actions.  But that little guy inside you who supposed to be pulling all of the strings?  The bible says he was crucified.  That means dead.  Isn’t that a relief?  Your sinful nature has been killed off.

So… you can’t blame the devil… you can’t blame the sinful nature… I guess that just leaves you.

You already have everything you need to overcome sin in your life.  There isn’t some special formula you need to discover to rid yourself of sin once and for all.  There also isn’t something important you need to do.  All you need to do is accept that Christ’s work was sufficient, and choose to live it out.

When we claim that we need something new or something more to overcome sin in our life, our words betray our lack of faith.  Grace is a complete work; there is nothing more to do.  And when we say otherwise, what we are really saying is that we don’t really believe that Jesus was able to free us.  When we make excuses, what we are really saying is that Jesus wasn’t enough.

So there you have it.  The only two steps you will ever need to overcome sin in your life.

  1. Stop looking for steps to overcoming sin
  2. Stop sinning

You already have the power.  You have already been given the authority.  Right now, you have the ability to stop sinning once and for all.  That’s what God said.  Just believe that He meant what He said, and start living it.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

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