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Overcoming Sin and Temptation

Tim Challies has a couple great posts on Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen. What does it mean to mortify sin, how do you do it, and why does it matter?

Want to learn more? Grab a copy of Overcoming Sin and Temptation. As you read, you can also check out the chapter discussions on Challies.com as he encourages people to read the classics together: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14

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October 20, 2011 | Posted in: Sin & Temptation | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

More Than a Momentary Defense Against Temptation

Romans 8:5-8 says: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Setting the mind on the Spirit is not just about what you do in the moment of temptation. It is a reorienting of your thoughts, your desires, and your motivations, so that a Spirit-oriented focus becomes the established pattern of your life.

It might be helpful to imagine your thoughts as scheming inmates who are plotting a jailbreak. (The tendency of your thoughts to jailbreak is one aspect of the flesh). Your thoughts need to be trained so that they stay on the things the Spirit produces, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). Normally, your thoughts will try to escape toward jealousy, envy, anger, sensuality, immorality, and even idolatry (Gal. 5:19–21). But you have been called, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

In daily life this means that:

  • You talk to God throughout the day.
  • You fill your mind with songs of worship and you keep directing them upward.
  • You let your thoughts dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).
  • You actively, by the Spirit, reject wrong thoughts as they come in.

Sometimes as I’m walking, a thought will pass through my mind that I know doesn’t please the Lord. I’ll immediately and suddenly say “stop it!” to that thought. In other words, I rebuke whatever thoughts are not pleasing to the Lord and redirect my thoughts so that they are once again captive to the obedience of Christ.

Adapted from Walking in the Spirit by Kenneth Berding. Learn more or read a free sample chapter.

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“Just Say No” to Sin?

Guest post by Kenneth Berding, author of Walking in the Spirit

Do you remember the “just say no to drugs” campaign waged a number of years ago? (The slogan “just say no” continues to be used in schools across the country). The assumption of the slogan was that kids could simply say “no” whenever faced with temptation. Is that true? Can we simply say “no” whenever we are tempted?

There is a significant difference between a believer and an unbeliever who tries to answer this question. An unbeliever is utterly stuck in sin. Granted, the unbeliever can clean up a behavior he views as wrong, but is that really house cleaning? Such “cleaning” is no more than moving piles from one room to another so the guests can’t see the mess.The unbeliever’s attempt to overcome sin reminds me of the children’s arcade game where you have to hit with a huge mallet whatever blue furry head pops up. The problem with trying to deal with temptation simply by hitting it down is that the moment an unbeliever hits one popping-up head, another pops up behind or in front of him. The unbeliever simply does not have the means by which to consistently overcome sin because he or she has not been indwelt by the Spirit.

But one who has come into a right relationship with God by receiving God’s gift of grace through faith and who has been indwelt by the Spirit of God has been given whatever is needed to overcome a given temptation. “Whatever is needed” is no less than the presence and power of God’s own Spirit! And this is what we have received if we truly know him (Rom 8:9-11).So how should we cooperate with what the Holy Spirit is trying to do to sanctify us? Galatians 5:16 offers a straightforward answer: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Walking by the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are mutually exclusive ideas; you are either walking by the Spirit or carrying out the desires of the flesh. You can’t do both at the same time. In short, you need to learn how to walk in the Spirit.

Simply saying “no” to sin is like trying to remove all of the air from a cup by covering it with a plastic lid and trying to suck out the air with a straw. You can’t get it all out, even if the lid is well sealed—which it isn’t if you are an unbeliever. But if your goal really is to remove all the air from a cup, fill it up with water and you can be certain that all the air will be out! (Side note: water is one of many biblical metaphors for the Spirit, John 7:38-39). If you really want to overcome sin, then learn the pattern of living life in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16; Rom 8:4), being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), setting your mind on the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:5-8). The result of such “walking” will be a realization of the power you need to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Rom 8:12-13).

There is more to be said about overcoming sin than what I’ve written here, but today I wanted to focus on this one key component. It is a vital message for a church culture that tends toward simplistic moralism and does not often stress what the Bible accentuates about overcoming sin by walking in step with the Spirit.

Learn more about Walking in the Spirit or read a sample chapter.

Kenneth Berding is (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and author of numerous books. Before coming to Talbot, Dr. Berding was a church planter in the Middle East and taught at Nyack College just north of New York City. He has a heart for God and ministry, and has written many worship songs and served as a worship pastor in local church ministry.

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3 Characteristics of a Christian Response to Sin

From Am I Really a Christian? by Mike McKinley

The story of the prodigal son is an incredible illustration of sin, repentance, and forgiveness. Through the character of the son, the parable reveals three things that should characterize a Christian’s response to his sin.

  1. Revulsion. In the end, the prodigal son was finally able to see the reality of his sin clearly. He saw it’s ugliness, offensiveness, and destruction. He recognized how loathsome his sins were in comparison to the loving righteousness of his father’s home. When a Christian is dead to sin and alive in Christ, sin does not suit him anymore. He is uncomfortable in it, and it disgusts him.
  2. Repentance. When the son came to his senses, he turned from his sins and went home. Genuine repentance is more than confessing or admitting our guilt. It requires condemning sin, turning away from it, and running towards Jesus in obedience.
  3. Reproof. In his great kindness, the heavenly father does not allow his children to become comfortable in sin. Just as the prodigal son had to hit rock bottom to come to his senses, so the Lord will send opportunities, difficulties, and correction to help his children repent and abandon their sin. He loves his children too much to leave them in their depravity.

Every one of us has sinned more than enough to earn us an eternity of damnation. But a true Christian cannot continue on a steady trajectory of sin. There must be evidence of genuine revulsion, repentance, and reproof as our response to sin.

Learn more about genuine faith in Am I Really A Christian?

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Rick Warren Writes Endorsement for “Tempted and Tried”

Russell Moore’s recent book on temptation has a new endorsement by Rick Warren:

Endorsement by Rick Warren

First, you do what you want to do…”

With those words, Russell Moore sums up the essence of what trips us up in our temptation. It is in our small moments of selfishness that temptation wins over us and it is in our simple moments of faith that temptation is defeated.

Everyone faces temptation. Even Jesus was tempted, so it is not a sin to be tempted. It is what we chose to do with it that makes the difference, and this powerful book shows the way out. Instead of being intimidated by Satan’s strategies, we need to educated about them, and prepare our minds for daily battle.

I’ve read many good books on dealing with temptation but this one by Russell Moore stands out in a class by itself. I can guarantee that your spiritual health will benefit greatly from giving serious attention to these chapters. They will help you not only understand how temptation works, but how to defeat it. In addition, there are three strong features of this book that will strengthen you in the battle.

First, this book begins with the person of Jesus Christ. Our savior is our model in all things, and he who was “tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV) is the only perfect model of the way to defeat temptation because he was never defeated by it! Both the book of James and the letters of Paul give us additional teaching on temptation but as important as those passages of Scripture are, standing miles above them is the intensely practical example of how our master dealt with the devil in the desert. In Satan’s temptations we’re lured into a dirty smog of confusion, but Jesus’ answers from scripture blow it all away with the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit.

Second, this book is both strongly theological and deeply thought provoking. This is absolutely essential because you cannot win in spiritual warfare with the human weapons of pop psychology, or just a positive attitude. The Evil One wants to destroy your life and he begins with capturing your attention. Because temptation begins in our thoughts, having your thoughts engaged with the truth is vital to victory in the daily battle. In order to say no to temptation we must repent; The Greek word for repentance (metanoia) simply means “to change the mind.” It is the most important paradigm shift you’ll ever make because it includes learning to see everything God’s way instead of your way. Behind every temptation is a lie.

Since our persistent patterns of temptation involve wrong thinking that accepts these lies of the Evil One, we need the truth to change our thinking before we can change our actions. Some of the lies that you have believed – about yourself, about God, about life, sex, money, happiness, and other things are errors that you have held on to for so long they have become your companions and friends, and even part of your identity. As you grapple with such issues as the Fatherhood of God and the Lordship of Jesus, you will be doing the necessary metanoia mind-changing work that will set you free from old patterns of doubt and sin. Do not skip these steps! There are no shortcuts to confronting the lies of Satan that create the strongholds of temptation in each of our lives. You must have the courage to ask, “What lies am I believing that really aren’t true?”

Third, this book is a book of hope! Hope is not possible without honesty. You can’t build hope on false pretense; you can only build it on truth. By writing openly about his own temptations, Russell reminds us that victory is never achieved in hiding or pretending. Victory begins with an openness before God, and with others. The Bible says “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 NIV). To defeat persistent temptation, revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing.

I am excited for you. God has provided a way out of every temptation. But more than that, every time you make the right choice and depend on Jesus for deliverance, you will become more like him.

Rick Warren
Author, The Purpose Driven Life
Pastor, Saddleback Church

Learn more about Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ

June 6, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,Endorsements,News & Announcements,Sin & Temptation | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 1:45 pm | 0 Comments »