Victory Over Sin: The Fight of Your Life

August 20, 2018

By Dwight Cover

A Loser or a Winner: Which one are you?

Ever lose a battle with temptation and groan with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Who of us hasn’t? Ever follow up your groan with Paul’s grateful, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord”? Who of us regularly own that? Yet that is our inheritance in Christ. Though the fight is life-long, the back of sin can be broken.

Jesus saves from sin now, not just in the past and future. We trusted God to save us from the penalty of sin through Christ (past), right? We trust God will save us from the presence of sin in eternity (future), right? But when it comes to being saved from the power of sin now, why do we do more trying than trusting? That denies the gospel. Victory only comes “through Him.” How does “through Him” work to conquer anger, unforgiveness, and lusts of the flesh?

God’s 3 Step Process to Overcome Sin

At the risk of oversimplification, the answer is to integrate three core truths of Christ’s work into the head-heart-hand process consistently affirmed in the New Testament. In Romans, the process boils down to knowing the truth (head), then reckoning the truth to be true for us (heart), then obeying the truth (hand). Though the metaphors differ, Ephesians outlines the same process: know the truth, put on the truth (armor of God), stand strong in the truth.

We tend to put most of our energies into the final step of the process—and fail. We need to put most of our energies into the first two steps of the process; if we do, the third step follows, because behavior is, at bottom, a function of what we truly believe.

We’ve Got to Use Both Edges of Our Sword

There are three core truths that we must know and reckon to be true if we are to successfully obey God, not sin. Romans emphasizes the first two truths; Ephesians emphasizes the third. Each of the three truths are double-edged—one edge relating to Christ and the other relating to us “in Christ”—a phrase which means that our life and who we are is inextricably tied up in His life and Who He is.

If we do not believe both edges of each core truth, we really don’t believe the gospel, because the second edge is a fundamental entailment of the gospel. We will never have victory that way; we will only have victory when we know, reckon, and obey with a double-edged faith.

Double-Edged Truth #1: Tree Truth

What do I need to know and reckon to be true?

  • Edge 1: Christ died to sin once for all (Rom. 6:10); on the cross, He defeated sin as a death-causing agent. Why? To decisively free me from sin.
  • Edge 2: I died to sin in Christ (Rom. 6:2, 6, 11).

That is a fact, not a wish. Sin did not die; I died to sin. Experience-based “in Adam” thinking reckons that truth a lie. Scripture-based “in Christ” thinking reckons that truth to be true. If I was crucified together with Him (fact), and He died to defeat sin as a death-causing agent (fact), then I died to sin as a death-causing agent (fact); it has lost its dominion-grip on me (fact), because sin has no hold on a dead man (fact). Sin’s “gotcha” relationship with me is severed once for all in Christ!  Therefore, I am not sin’s slave; I am a free man!  I can defeat sin because I am no longer its slave. That is gospel!

Double-Edged Truth #2: Tomb Truth

What do I need to know and reckon to be true?

  • Edge 1: Christ was raised; He lives to God (Rom. 6:4, 9-10). His resurrection was a “death-defeating” resurrection that was designed to free me to live a new life.
  • Edge 2: I was raised; I am alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:4-5, 10).

That is a fact, not a wish.  Therefore, I can walk in newness of life; I am a new man! Christ’s resurrection guarantees my future resurrection, but it also guarantees my ability to live free from sin’s stranglehold now. That is gospel!

Double-Edged Truth #3: Throne Truth

What do I need to know and reckon to be true?

  • Edge 1: Christ sits enthroned with full authority over all Satanic powers (Eph. 1:19-21).
  • Edge 2: I am enthroned with Christ and all His authority is at my disposal in the battle against the principalities and powers (Eph. 2:1-7).

That is a fact, not a wish. Therefore, I can defeat Satan and sin; I am an authorized man—in Christ (Eph. 6:10-18)!  I can have victory over sin because I am enthroned with Christ far above all Satanic powers. That is gospel!

In the Truth Project, Del Tackett asks a penetrating question: “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” To answer “Yes,” we must consciously think “in Christ” and stop thinking “in Adam.” To think “in Christ,” we need to repeatedly rehearse the above double-edged truths to anchor them in our minds and hearts. Then, when sin threatens to overpower us, and we start to groan, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” our faith, established in double-edged Tree-Tomb-and-Throne Truth, can give the enemy a 1-2-3 punch that leaves him on the mat and us standing to gratefully praise, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Dwight Cover

Dwight Cover and his wife Sherrill have homeschooled in Grandview, Washington for over twenty years. Their vision is to disciple their children to live out their calling in robust Biblical manhood and womanhood that advances the kingdom of God among all nations through multigenerational discipleship. Dwight currently serves as the teaching pastor at Household of Faith—a new work with a focus on developing young men to shoulder the mantle of spiritual leadership in the home, the church, and the world.