We received a question today about how exactly the Christian puts to death the sinful nature. This is a huge part of our salvation and a big part of the hope we possess.
To possess salvation means to be saved from something. This something is the sinful nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To perish is to be condemned to hell due to the sinful nature we are all born with (John 3:18). But Christ died once for all so that we can be forgiven and freed from the sinful nature (1 Peter 3:18).
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). And again, “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). The key word here is freedom.
So how do we obtain this freedom? Salvation is received by being born again. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). This is a spiritual rebirth whereby we die to the sinful nature and receive the gift of Christ. Being born again is possible because Christ not only died for our sins but rose again on the third day. The resurrection is essential, because if Christ did not raise from the dead then sin and death were not conquered and we are still trapped in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:14). Finally, Christ ascended back to heaven, where all things have been put under his feet (Ephesians 1:22). This means that Christ has the ultimate victory over all things, including Satan himself. Sin is conquered and we may be free in him.
To be in Christ is to have these things true of us as well. Just as water can be poured into a cup, when we become saved we are placed in Christ. And just like when that cup is then placed on a table the table is beneath the cup and the water, when we are placed in Christ Satan is at our feet too.
Salvation occurs when we receive this victory of Christ in our own lives. The freedom is made possible because of the work of Christ.
So why do Christians still struggle with sin? Because they do not understand this victory. How do we die to sin? By living these truths in our lives by FAITH.
The Christian must live consciously of their thoughts and actions every day. When I recognize that I have victory over sin in Christ Jesus, I am not going to believe the lie that I’m always going to sin. When I don’t believe the lie then I don’t live under the lie. And if I don’t live under the lie, then my life is truly free of it and I live by the truth, which is that I am not bound by sin.
This plays out practically in everyday life when the Christian takes captive their thoughts and actions. I recognize when a sinful though is about to enter (or already has entered) my mind, and I cast it out immediately in the name of Jesus Christ. To dwell the thought is to give it a foothold and be conquered by it. To cast it out is to have victory over it and conquer it.
Victory over our actions works in the same way. This is done a lot easier when our thoughts are taken captive. If we have victory in our thought lives, then we will no longer be led astray by them and walk into the sinful act we are thinking about. When we are not thinking about sinning, we are not going to take it into our hands to act out that sin.
When it comes to impulsive actions, again we must take our thoughts captive. We must stop and think when we feel ourselves ready to blow up, or walk into a bad situation, or whatever that impulsive behavior may be. When we slow down, we can then take the thought and action captive, and then walk away from it and be victorious over it.
All this is done by faith. We know what Christ has done for us, have received his gift of salvation and been born again, and walk in the victory we have in Christ Jesus. Because Christ has overcome this world of sin, in Christ we have this same victory. Praise God for all he has done!