Fighting Sin

“Do not allow sin to reign in your mortal bodies....” (Rom 6.12) Paul writes to the church in Rome assuming that they have a choice in the matter. They do. He has already told them of their new position accomplished through baptism into Christ whereby they were transferred out of that old Adamic kingdom of sin-and-death and into the kingdom of righteousness-and-life. For this reason, if they find themselves being mastered by sin, they need to know that it is because they have chosen to be mastered by sin.

Sin reigning in our mortal bodies is different from sinning. Sin reigning means that you have pledged your allegiance to sin, adopting it as a way of life. You have yielded the members of your mortal bodies to sin to fight against righteousness (Rom 6.13). Instead of taking up arms against sin, battling it and overcoming it, you have yielded to it and become a subject again in its kingdom. The Christian still sins, but he is confessing and repenting of it along the way. He refuses to accept sin as the proper way of thinking or living. The Christian lives by faith, believing the truth of God over the lies of sin, and he seeks to have his life conformed to that truth. The Christian who does this is living under the reign of righteousness.

But, I’m sure, you have a good reason as to why sin is reigning in you. The Holy Spirit, when he inspired Paul, wasn’t thinking about your situation. If he only knew what you had been through as a child. If he only knew of your addictive personality. If he only knew how other people treated you. Yes, I’m sure if the Holy Spirit knew your situation he might adjust the Scriptures to make some allowances for sin to reign in your mortal body. This command can’t apply to you carte blanche. If it does, that means that there is no real justification for you to continue to adopt a way of thinking and living that embraces deviant sexual behavior, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice, deceit, outbursts of anger, enmity, covetousness, drunkenness, and envy as “just the way you are.”

There isn’t any justification for you or for me.

This isn’t being overly simplistic or naive. The Holy Spirit who inspired Paul realizes that dealing with sin is difficult. There are some sins in which we are enslaved at points in our lives from which it is difficult to be freed. No one said this would be easy. What is being said is that you have to fight. You can’t resign yourself to this being “just the way you are.” It is not who you are. Sin is not your king, and if you submit to sin as king you are being a traitor to your true King.

The difficulty of dealing with sin should not be confused with being complicated. While you need the counsel and encouragement of others, you don’t need a Ph D to deal with reigning sin. Some of us Christians have made this overly complicated to the point that all of the reasons we have problems with this or that sin become excuses to remain under sin’s power. We have resigned our thinking to the dominion of sin, as if its power hasn’t really been broken over our lives. That is just the opposite of what Paul is saying here. You have a choice.

It won’t be easy. You will have to resign yourself to the fact that this is going to be a fight for the rest of your life. When this sin over here is beaten back for a while, another one is going to sprout up like a bad weed. Faith in Christ fights the sin, refusing to adopt sin’s ways as the proper way of thinking and living. Faith in Christ lays hold of all the graces God has provided in his church to strengthen the body in its fight against sin. Faith disciplines the mortal body by establishing and continuing to pursue righteous habits. Faith cuts sin off quickly through confession and repentance as many times a day as it is needed. Faith clings to what God has said about us in Christ; especially the fact that we are a part of his kingdom in which this culture of sin doesn’t define who we are.

Christian, take up the weapons of faith and fight!