Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can never overcome sin in my life. I continue to fail as a father. I continue to drop the ball as a husband. I’m prideful. I’m too easily angered. I get incredibly defensive when I’m questioned or criticized. My eyes wander.
Maybe you can relate. As a result, we often take upon this mindset as though we are “victims” to sin. That sin always has to get the best of us . That we can’t overcome. That we can’t get victory. Yet this mindset is a lie from hell. Paul teaches us in Romans 6 that our “old man” (who we used to be before Christ) has been “crucified.” Our old sin nature has been “brought to nothing,” meaning it has been deeply wounded. The grip of sin has lost its power in the life of a Christian. We are no longer slaves to sin. In Christ, we are able not to sin.
Why? Because Paul writes in Romans 6:7, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” The power of sin no longer has a gun to our head. In other words, we can no longer say to God, “I can’t help it.” SIN no longer has control over the person who is in Christ. Sin is still resident, but it’s no longer president. Sin is still in the car; but it’s not in the driver’s seat. It’s been moved to the trunk. Now we still have a lot of “junk in the trunk,” but that sin nature is not in control anymore.
We are not just an “old dirty rotten sinner saved by grace.” We are “new creations” in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
We are free. Jesus Christ has broken the chains. Yet while some of us are free, we’re still living like slaves.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 6 is one of the hardest in all of the Bible for Christians to really believe. It’s because it doesn’t seem to match our experience. It’s because we are so keenly aware of our sinful nature, and we know all too well how “messed up” we still are. And so this biblical truth that we have been set free from the power of sin seems almost impossible. We feel so hopeless.
We say to God, “God, I just can’t. I’m always going to be this way. I can’t stop being angry. I can’t stop being bitter. I can’t stop looking at porn. I can’t stop being anxious. I can’t stop being hateful to my kids.”
And yet Jesus Christ is saying to His children this, “Stop talking like that. Stop speaking lies, and listen to the voice of truth.” The word of Christ says that our “old self” has been crucified in Christ. We are not who we used to be. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we have been set free, and whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.
Christians, if we could only realize the power that is available to us. It is the power of Jesus Christ in us. You don’t have to change yourself; Jesus Christ is in you and He is changing you. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
So many of us understand that we have been justified by our faith in Christ, and that the penalty of our sin is gone because Christ bore our penalty for us. But for too many of us, our understanding of the Gospel stops there, and therefore, we don’t fully understand the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ does not simply free us from the penalty of sin, but it sets us free from the power of sin. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ does not simply forgive us, it changes us. Jesus doesn’t just keep us out of hell; He liberates us from the power of sin in this life.
The secret to change and overcoming sin is having a knowledge of what has already happened to us in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? . . . We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Paul says, “Don’t you KNOW what has happened to you?”
You are not who you used to be.
Paul’s main ambition in Romans 6 is not to try to persuade us to change; He is saying, “You have already been changed.” He’s not saying, “Try harder to be a new person.” He’s saying, “You are already a new person.” He’s not saying, “Go figure out a way to break these chains in your life.” He’s saying, “The chains have already been broken; now walk in freedom.”
It was 1775 in Richmond, Virginia during the time of the Revolutionary War. Patrick Henry stood before the Virginia Convention president, pleading to raise a militia from Virginia to fight in the war. Henry’s opponents told him to slow down, but in the face of opposition, Henry stood up and said these famous words: “Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Jesus Christ has come and He has given us liberty through His own death.
So Christians, we must stop belittling the power of what Jesus Christ has done. We must stop saying, “I’m just an old dirty, rotten sinner.” No, that’s who you used to be. Now, you are a new creation in Jesus Christ; the old man is gone, behold all things have become new. Live like what you already are.
Stop saying, “I’m an addict.” No, that part of you has been crucified in Christ. You are not a slave to addiction: you have been set free. Live like it!
Stop saying, “I’m a slave to bitterness.” No, the chains of bitterness have been broken. Live like it!
Stop saying, “I can’t change.” You’ve already been changed. Now live like who you already are in Christ!
Christians, we must stop living with this defeated attitude that we can’t overcome sin. By the power of Jesus Christ in us, we can and we will, because greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world.