Athletes know that if you go into a game believing you are going to win, you will play much differently than if you think you are going to lose. It is the same with sin habits. We must expect victory over the sins that beset us and expect victory in establishing new habits of holiness.
Of course, the contest with sin is no game—it is deadly serious. And our confidence about replacing sin with godliness is no mere exercise in positive thinking. Rather, it has a solid basis, because our confidence is not in our own powers of self-control but in the power of God to change us as we cooperate with Him.
This is what I (Bill) have long called “supernatural thinking.” By that term, I refer to hope that may seem like bold ambition but that is actually a reasonable and faithful response to what God has revealed in His Word. Thinking that we are capable of defeating a serious sin problem on our own is foolish—down deep we know how weak we are. But if the Scriptures are correct in saying that God is all-powerful (He is), and if they are correct that He has promised to help us if we will ask (He will), then we have every reason for a bold faith that sees victory where others would expect defeat.
When the teenage David went down to the field of battle to face the giant Goliath, David said that his victory would come from the Lord. “It is His battle, not ours,” shouted David to the enemy. “The Lord will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:47). Moments later Goliath was lying dead in the dust, no doubt looking much smaller than before. One plus God is a majority against any foe.
Tired of fighting against sin? Remember, the battle is the Lord’s. With His help, you will prevail. He will help you eliminate the troublesome sin from your life. And as you continue to pray and surrender your will to Him, He will fill the empty place in your life (the one formerly occupied by the sin habit) with a new virtue habit. This kind of complete victory can be yours.
“Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us”
Applying the Five Steps
Healing from sin is the goal we are after, and the five-step process we have outlined is how to get there. To review:
- Adopt a correct view of God. Make sure you have biblical convictions about God’s character and how He acts toward you.
- Revise your false beliefs. Use the Bible to identify your mistaken convictions about yourself, other people, and how life works.
- Repent of your sin. Pray the five prayers of repentance: (1) “I am wrong.” (2) “I am sorry.” (3) “Forgive me.” (4) “Cleanse me.” (5) “Empower me.”
- Defend against spiritual attacks. Depending on the Holy Spirit, choose to overcome the world’s values, consider the flesh’s desires to be dead, and resist the Devil’s schemes.
- Flee temptation. Escape from sin by focusing on your relationship with God, latching on to God’s promises, establishing safeguards, and expecting victory.
This is a process that enables us to achieve greater holiness, no matter how much we have struggled with a particular sin in the past. But theory is always one thing and application another, isn’t it? For all of this to really matter to you, you need to apply it to your own sins.
Next we will consider how each of us needs to diagnose our own sin sickness and apply the soul prescription to it.