rebelling against low expectations

How Do We Fight Sin?

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Isn’t it aggravating when you take the time to explain your struggles to a friend, asking for guidance, and all they say is, “You’ve got this!” or, “Don’t worry, pray about it!”

You know what I mean. The advice that sounds more like a pre–game pep talk than godly counsel. Sound familiar? I thought so.

We’ve all had experiences like these, and we may even be guilty of being the ones to give this sort of advice.

If you’ve been given this kind of advice before, you know that it never seems to solve your problems. It leaves you just as empty as you were before, if not emptier.

Is there a more effective way to give wise counsel to ourselves, and our friends, about fighting sin?

Yep, there is! And the answer lies in the gospel…

Defining Sin

Before we talk about fighting sin, we must understand what sin is, and what it’s not.

Wayne Grudem, author of Bible Doctrine defines sin as “any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature.”

“God’s moral law,” is the Ten Commandments; when we break one of them that is called sin.

Wayne Grudem goes on to explain that “Sin consists not only of individual acts, such as stealing or lying or committing murder, but also in attitudes that are contrary to the attitudes God requires of us.

Not only is it sinful to steal (an action) but it’s just as sinful to covet a friend’s belongings (an attitude).

In The New Testament, the Apostle Paul lists attitudes like jealousy and anger as sin (Gal. 5:20).

It’s important to understand this because we need to realize that sin isn’t just a “behavior”. Sin is much greater than that.

Sin is a result of believing lies about the gospel and acting upon those lies in an unChrist-like manner.

It All Starts In Our Mind

Every sin we commit, in action or attitude, at one point or another came from a thought we had.

“I wish I had shoes like she had,” can lead to coveting.

“I could tell Mom I didn’t stay out past ten, even though I did,” could lead to lying.

We cannot control the thoughts that pop into our minds, but we can control how we respond to those thoughts.

If we don’t control them, they will control us, and lead to sour emotions that result in sinful attitudes and actions.

When you realize you’re having a thought that doesn’t bring glory to God, throw it at the feet of Jesus. Ask Him to remove it! Shift your focus to thankfulness and praise to God.

You may be thinking, “what about when the thought has already erupted into an action or attitude? What do I do then?”

I’m glad you asked that question. In order to understand why the fruit of our lives is resulting in sin, we must learn how to fight with the gospel.

Getting To The Root Of The Problem

Think of your sin as a weed in a garden. To get rid of a weed you can’t just cut off a few of its leaves. You have to kill its roots, to kill its fruits.

The same is true of our sin. If we tell ourselves to just stop sinning, or pray that our struggles will magically go away, our sinful weeds will multiply. This is what I like to call “behavior modification,” aka plucking the fruit but not killing the roots.

Like I said earlier, if the fruit of our lives is sin, we are believing lies about God and ourselves that lead to sinful attitudes and actions.

So, if sin is a result of a lie that we’ve believed, why wouldn’t we fight those lies with the truth—the gospel?

How do we get to the root of our sin and uncover those lies so we can believe the gospel?

That’s where the fruit to root exercise comes in.

In his book called Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt explains an exercise called “fruit to root” that is very helpful and effective in fighting sin.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re really struggling with gossip, and you just can’t seem to stop talking about others behind their backs.

First off, remember that sin is the fruit of the lie you’re believing. Ask yourself the question, “How am I living in this moment?” The answer to that question would be, “I’m gossiping and slandering others.”

Next, ask yourself, “What lie does this sin show that I must be believing about my identity?” If you’re gossiping, you must believe that you’re unloved, because you’re trying to make others feel unloved.

After this, ask yourself, “If I believe this lie about myself, what does that say that I believe about what God’s done for me?” If you believe you’re unloved, maybe you need to confess that you are believing the lie that Jesus doesn’t actually love you. You don’t believe that He’s interceding on your behalf either.

Finally, “What do all these lies say that you believe about who God is?” Maybe you believe He’s unjust, unfair, and maybe even a liar…

Now that you’ve confessed these lies, it’s time to combat them with the truth of the gospel.

Who is God? He is truthful, fair, and just. He is my advocate.

What has He done? He sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins and so that I could have a relationship with Him. Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding on my behalf and speaking highly of me.

Who am I? I am redeemed and loved.

How do I live in light of the truth of the gospel? I remember that because Christ is my advocate and He is speaking highly of me, I don’t have to tear others down. I am called to reflect His character (Gen 3:1) by being an advocate for others. I can be an advocate for others by speaking highly of my peers instead of gossiping behind their backs.

Do you see what we did there? We used the gospel to fight our sin! This is how Christ intended us to fight our struggles.

Check out what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” (emphasis mine).

Speaking the truth in love means speaking the gospel into every area of our lives, because the gospel is the truth.

Pray and ask the Lord what area of your life needs to be reminded of the truths of the gospel, and customize the fruit to root exercise to your specific struggles.

Remember friend, you can never outgrow the gospel.


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About the author

Lila Pool

is a fifteen year old 10th grade student from South Georgia. She is passionate about using the gifts God has given her to bring glory to Him. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, acting, gardening, and of course, writing. You can check out her blog at rootedinchrist.life

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