Holiness, Pt. 2
Fighting for Holiness (Pt. 2): Killing your sin, dead
An illustration from: The Vanishing Conscience
By almost every measure, Saul was the wrong man to be Israel’s first king. He was weak, stubborn, selfish, and arrogant.
One of Saul’s greatest failures is recorded in 1 Samuel 15. Saul had been ordered to carry out God’s judgment on the Amalekites. The Amalekites had been long-standing enemies of God’s people, and the Lord had included the prophecy of their doom in His Law (Deuteronomy 25:17-19).
ESV Deuteronomy 25:17-19 a"Remember what Amalek did to you bon the way as you came out of Egypt, 18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and acut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.19 Therefore awhen the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall bblot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.
God chose Saul and Israel’s army to be the instruments of His wrath against the Amalekites, and commanded Saul to:
ESV 1 Samuel 15:3 Now go and strike Amalek and adevote to destruction1 all that they have. Do not spare them, bbut kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.' (1Sa 15:3 ESV)
The point was total destruction—to thoroughly “blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deuteronomy 25:19).
But, Saul didn’t follow those orders. Instead, he kept the best of Amalek’s livestock and treasure—to later sacrifice to God (“Superficially”).
He also took Amalek’s king, Agag, as his prisoner, keeping him like a humiliated trophy of a great military achievement.
Because of Saul’s failure, the Amalekites would live on, and continue to pose a threat to God’s people (see 1 Samuel 30).
As God’s prophet, Samuel confronted Saul, issuing this stinging rebuke:
ESV 1 Samuel 15:22-23 And Samuel said, a"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, bto obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and aidolatry. Because byou have rejected the word of the LORD, che has also rejected you from being king."
Then Samuel ordered that Agag be brought forward so he could complete the judgment Saul had failed to fulfill.
ESV 1 Samuel 15:33 And Samuel said, a"As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women." And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD bin Gilgal.
This bloody display depicts the ferocious battle each believer must wage against the sin that remains in his or her life.
We cannot be content to mostly destroy our old, sinful patterns. We must completely and thoroughly blot it out, and leave no opportunity for it to crop up again in our lives.
When saved, there a crushing defeat of sin . . . But, we still have remaining sins. There are some Amalekites running around loose in everybody’s life. We all have our Agags.
The problem in our Christian lives is not that sin has not been defeated…but there is still remaining sin. There are some loose, Amalekites in all of us.
Though there was a great defeat at the time of our salvation, there are still remaining sins to be hacked to pieces—or, they will revive; they will plunder our hearts and sap our spiritual strength. We cannot be merciful with the Agags of our life.
We cannot be merciful with the remaining sins in our life or they will turn and create an insurrection and a rebellion to attempt to destroy us.
Question: How to Kill a sin addiction?
One sin continues to plague men and marriages.
- The sin of pornography.
- Exponential access to media is spreading like wildfire, now consumptive!
- However, this sin is nothing new.
When Adam and Eve fell, “…the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths…and [they] hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (Gen. 3:7-8).
When asked why Adam explained, “I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10).
- Their shame was in their minds! This was the first battle with pornography.
- Fighting this same heart pathology is on record in the earliest days of the history.
- Job, known to be the first inspired book (by Moses) - of the early record of the patriarchal period.
- Records Job’s commitment not to lust!
ESV Job 31:1 "I have made a covenant with my aeyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? (Job 31:1 ESV)
- Joseph having to flee Potipher’s wife.
- Samson falling to temptation with Delilah.
- Samson teases Delilah, lying about how he loses his strength.
- Wooed through her sensuality into telling his secret.
- Gives up his strength for sex (Judges 16).
- Israel’s constant battle with pagan idolatry always involving sensuality (Ashereth).
- Eli hearing in old age hearing of his sons Hophni and Phineas laying with women, “serving at the entrance of the tent meeting” (1 Sam. 2:22).
- King David ignoring responsibility to go to war.
- Glances down at Bathsheba while bathing.
- Falls and keeps falling.
- Amnon, David’s son violated Absalom’s sister, Tamar, lust turned to hated (2 Sam. 13).
- Solomon, known for ushering in the pagan practice of Kings with concubines became normal.
- Proverbs 7 (ironically written by Solomon) warns of the man looking through the latticework, that this man, following the path of adultery, is reduced to the price of a loaf of bread.
- In his sermon on the mount, Jesus gives the heart of the Law, that lusting in your heart for another woman is committing adultery.
- Acts 19 speaks of whole cities like Ephesus going up in arms rioting over Paul and his missionaries.
- Threatening their idol worship.
- Idol worship always linked with sexual orgies (Acts 19).
- Romans 1 defines the digression of culture in terms of unnatural immorality.
- 1 Corinthians 6 says to flee sexual immorality (Grk: pornea).
- Every other sin, outside of the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his body.
- Paul says it is “the will of God” to abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess. 4).
- 1 John 2 says that everything in the world the lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not from the Father but from the world.
- In Revelation the Bible ends with anti-christ and its false system called “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Rev. 17:5).
This is actually a small sampling on this sobering theme from the whole of Scripture.
- The epidemic nature of this sin in our culture that in turn practically assaults and destroys Christians everywhere should not catch us by surprise.
- Media accelerates accessibility devastating minds and hearts.
This pervasive sin is easily hidden.
In principle, sexual sin and lying go hand in hand.
Asking people about this sin requires a follow up question: “Did you tell me everything?”
Sexual sin is highly addictive.
What I mean by addictive is not playing to our victim culture, where someone cannot come out of it.
- Addiction is synonymous to the biblical word “enslaved” (cf. Romans 6:17 “slave of sin”).
- This concept is grave but not without hope.
- 1 Corinthians 6 describes people enslaved to a host of sins
ESV 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous1 will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: aneither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,2 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
“Sexual immorality” (pornos) (or greed or stealing or drunkenness or revilers or swindlers) will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Not going to heaven.
- At the same time, this kind of slavery is not without deliverance.
Verse 11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed…sanctified…justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11).
ESV Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Rom 6:6 ESV)
ESV Romans 6:18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
ESV 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This is salvation, so “What about enslavement after salvation?”
- Delivered but still drowning in your vices!
- Still, filled with guilt and shame.
This brings us to a single question. “As a believer are you willing to fight your sin to the death?” “Are you willing to kill it, dead?”
Last week we talked about how Christianity is the call to “Fight.”
- We have three enemies, but often your fight is your sin!
- It’s winning the war within!
- Christians fight because they now have an inclination to fight!
- Scripture tells us, the only effective fight is one that does NOT HOLD BACK!
A football player, when hitting, if he holds is the one who gets hurt.
You say, “But, we are talking about the sin of pornography.”
- The key is realizing the Bible says to deal with sin the same way no matter the sin.
- Sin’s consequences always vary.
- Still, killing sin its addictions is always accomplished the same way!
- Fill in the blank. Name the sin, and then aggressively kill it.
The key to winning a fight is always summed in one word. “Resolve.”
The Spanish explorer Cortez knew the principle of “Resolve.”
Arriving to his new land, as soon as the last soldier set foot on solid ground, Cortez gave to order: “Burn the ships.” There would be No going back! Victory was the only option.
You have to be willing to swim down to where there is pressure.
Talking to a Virginia Beach the lifeguard, he said they regularly train with Navy Seals in the morning before dawn. They challenge each other to dive down and grab sand each time going 10 feet farther and deeper. This is where the pressure is. People are not willing to feel this kind of pressure and this is why people are still trapped.
This kind of commitment mortifies sin.
One of my heroes, John Owen, from the 1600’s, English Nonconformist, church leader and Oxford theologian penned his masterpiece on this called “The Mortification of Sin.”
- From this, I put together a practical approach to killing sin.
- This will be our sermon!
What does it really mean to “mortify” or kill sin, as a Christian?”
I will start with by answering preliminary questions.
- Who can mortify sin?
Only believers can kill sin.
- The chief agent for killing sin is the Holy Spirit and only believers have the Holy Spirit.
- Someone by necessity must first be alive to be aware of the sins that need killing.
- You have to be Alive to Kill sin!
ESV Romans 8:12-13 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
ESV Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
ESV Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Remember, these commands are directed to believers.
- So, you have to be alive to obey them.
- In addition, the expectation is that every Christian will be obeying them.
- What are you supposed to kill?
This might seem obvious but when you are battling sin, it is very easy to confuse behavior modification for real and lasting holiness.
- Working on externals rather than true Sanctification (“the heart”) is the Core Problem and why Christians stay defeated!
- The key is to focus on your true enemy - killing Paul calls your “flesh.”
- Paul calls your “flesh” the “deeds of the body” or “what is earthly in you” or “the law of sin.”
This sin reality is like the “Law of Gravity.”
Isaac Newton’s law: “What goes up must come down.”
Or like the 2nd Law of Thermo-Dynamics:
That everything is in a constant state of atrophy.
Dec 28, 2016 - The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in an isolated system (one that is not taking in energy), entropy always increases over time. ... The Second Law is acknowledged in everyday life in sayings such as “Things fall apart,” “You can't unscramble an egg,” and “What can go wrong will go wrong.”
Though you are crucified with Christ - “the old self is crucified” (Romans 6:6) - you are still enfleshed in an unredeemed body – “a law of sin…dwells in…[your] members” (Romans 7:23).
During the biblical time-period, a Roman capital punishment was to fasten a human carcass to a living criminal causing this person’s flesh to be eaten alive by that which was dead.
Why, from his spiritual experience, Paul with exasperation cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24).
- Your “flesh” [sarx] is what activates “the works of the flesh” Gal. 5:19.
- This is when as a Christian you are acting like a non-Christian.
Martin Luther described people being in one of two fields. You are either in the field of Adam or you have been transferred in to God’s field.
Once you are in God’s field you can never return to Adam’s field. However, Satan will walk of up to the fence and attempt to cajole you act like your former self.
- What is the goal of killing your sin?
You want to live.
- It is important to see killing sin as synonymous with your assurance of your salvation.
- The opposite is also true – unbelievers do not.
ESV Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you aput to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
To “live” is not reaching a higher plane as a second-tier Christian.
- He is saying, “If you fight then you should be confident you are alive and if you do not fight, then you should be confident you are dead.”
- Dead Now and without repentance, Dead for eternity!
The goal for killing a sin is not first, to be rid of it, but Christian assurance!
Paul nails this point down in Romans 8:14-17
14 For all who are aled by the Spirit of God are bsons1 of God.15 For ayou did not receive bthe spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of cadoption as sons, by whom we cry, d"Abba! Father!"16 aThe Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then aheirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, bprovided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
This is how persevering is life.
In John 15 teaches this - Jesus calls believers a “branch” that “bears fruit.”
- What God “prunes” to bear “more” (John 15:2).
- The warning is that if you do not bear fruit or even care to bear fruit you are going to be “thrown away,” “thrown into the fire” and “burned” (John 15:6).
Believers do not conjure up the fruit by personal effort but by their resolve to cling to Christ! At the same time, our spiritual fruit is effort!
Paul boxed and disciplined his own body to avoid being “disqualified.”
ESV 1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives athe prize? So brun that you may obtain it. 25 Every aathlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we ban imperishable.26 So I do not run aimlessly; I ado not box as one bbeating the air.27 But I discipline my body and akeep it under control,1 lest after preaching to others bI myself should be cdisqualified.
- Paul’s point is finishing the “race” not simply staying qualified as an Apostle (1 Cor. 9:25).
- Paul differentiates between those who “receive a perishable wreath, [and]…an imperishable [wreath].”
- Going the distance starts with desire to “Go the distance.”
- Your need to kill sin will not end, until God ends it.
“It is not the perfection of your life but the direction that matters.”
Paul said in Philippians 3:12, “not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect.”
- What does it mean to mortify your sin?
The word, mortify should bring to mind the word, death.
A mortality rate is the rate of death according to its population.
- It means to kill something that is alive.
- John Owen: Taking all strength, vigor, and power from something so what was alive cannot act or exert itself.
- This taking away somethings ability to act on its own. Your sin habit is NOW NOT INVOLUNTARY!
- To drain the life from it – in the case of a believer – it is draining the life out of the old self. Draining a sin by weakening the sin habits.
John Owen put it this way: “As a man nailed to the cross; he first struggles, and strives, and cries out with great strength and might, but, as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse, scarce to be heard.”
“When a man first sets on a lust…to deal with it, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved; but with by mortification the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may have sometimes a dying pang, that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it be kept from considerable success.”
To commit to kill a sin, is to commit to starve a sin to death!
- In doing so, you should see it weaken over time.
- “Are you willing to fight and kill your sin to the death?”
The athlete who hesitates and holds back in a collision is the one who usually gets hurt.
Why coaches pull the best players when they cannot perform at 100%. They become a liability to themselves!
Christianity is only effective at one speed. “Full Go”
These are the basics, “So, how do you kill sin?”
Thinking hard about your sin.
- Be willing to think about your sin
- Consciously reject the belief you are okay while the Bible says you are not.
- Jeremiah 17:9 says, our hearts are deceitful, or lying to us.
- The number one lie: “I’m okay, you’re okay.”
- You could be tempted to think: “Yes, I sin but so does everybody else.”
- It is not evident to you but it is to everyone else!
- Sin is never an isolated problem.
Galatians 5:19 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident.”
The power of your sin should not be underestimated. Sin is not a disorder, a genetic issue. You cannot grow while ignoring your sin. Left to itself, your sin will always grow and you will not.
Remember David’s weakened physical constitution while unrepentant.
ESV Psalm 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
ESV 1 Corinthians 11:30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
You cannot trade one work of the flesh for another like a business deal.
You cannot logically argue yourself into being holy.
People use rational arguments as a way to cover their sin.
I remember the assignment as an associate pastor in Arkansas to go confront an older man who was denying the Gospel for aliens.
After taking me through his abduction and nano tech that now coursed through his bloodstream he began to defend his faith saying, “I am a five point Calvinist!” “How can you question my faith?”
At the time, being versed in some Sci-Fi (because of my wife’s negative influence!), I knew what he believed. The problem is that his fiction had become his faith!
I was also sure this was a smoke screen for not dealing some secret sin.
Being located in a very remote back woods cabin, when this visibly agitated man, grabbed his Makita and came towards me, I stood up.
His wife (a believer) assured me he was letting off steam, dealing with anger, putting his tools away.
His adult son (whom had recently been released from prison) appeared from a back room and it was time for me to go.
Judy made a new rule for me to always make those kinds of visits in pairs!
“How should you think about your sin?”
Locate as an Enemy within – While taking full responsibility for it!
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.
James says, “Your sin is not God’s fault” because sin never comes from God or to God. Sin’s origin is NOT God.
James compares sin to conception and birth.
- Without repentance, your spiritual life is then compared to a still born. “Spiritual death.”
- Your sin left unchecked will grow and get worse.
This was the case with the beginning of the world.
- Sin began in the garden and grew at such a rate that by the time of the days of Noah, complete eradication of the human race was warranted.
5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."
(Gen 6:5-7 ESV)
Back to the book of James.
ESV James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"?
Verse 5 is the hope for our Christian walk. Our lusts fight for our rebellion God’s Spirit “yearns jealously over you!”
You have to declare a lifelong war against sin.
ESV 1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you aas sojourners and exiles bto abstain from the passions of the flesh, cwhich wage war against your soul.
You cannot expect cataclysmic change in an instant. No single event will change you!
Fad quick fix methods are fleeting. Lifelong pursuits prove lasting.
Approach this war in non-politically correct fashion.
- Load your conscience with guilt!!
- Look upon Christ like Peter did after denying him three times (Luke 22:61).
ESV Luke 22:61-62 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
Instead of listening to “The Law written on our hearts” (Rom. 2:14-15) we see this as a defect or kill-joy!
The Puritan Richard Sibbes said, “The conscience is the soul reflecting upon itself.”
You cannot “Plaster over your wound” [Owen]
Dare to ask the Holy Spirit to show you the sin beneath the sin – Your Pride of Self-Sufficiency.
SV John 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
- You have to be willing to fight
Dive into God’s Word and put specific sins to death.
- Paul was very specific in Colossians 3.
ESV Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Getting your mind up toward heaven while calling out specific sins.
- Then viewing these specific sins in light of God’s judgment.
6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Col 3:6 ESV)
You have got to own the fact that this is who you used to be and now this is “NOT WHO YOU ARE!”
7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Col 3:7-16 ESV)
This is the process of starving and feeding!
Starve and feed – Feed and starve!
Put off and Put on!
Paul commands Timothy to “flee youthful lusts.”
You have to run from sin!
Like Joseph who said to Potipher’s wife who day after day propositioned him.
Joseph said, “How shall I do this great evil?” (Gen. 39:9).
Pornography, in today’s culture is accepted as absolutely normal! Expected!
Liberal culture shouts: “Let sin reign!” “Yield!”
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Rom 6:12-13 ESV)
God’s Word is the only place that screams against this saying, NO!
Remember, “The church is the outpost of sanctification!” [Owen Strachan].
Church is the arena to conduct a fast on pornography – to starve yourself of looking and longing – and to feed yourself with life and holiness.
John Murray the old Princeton theologian said, “Because God works we work.”
Surround yourself with God’s People and His Word and you will find God’s Power!
Deny yourself of God’s People and God’s Word and you will find yourself Powerless!
“How do you know if you are mortifying your sin?”
“You Won’t!” Do not let this concern you!
Feed and starve. Trust that God will fulfill his promise to sanctify you!
ESV John 17:17 aSanctify them1 in the truth; byour word is truth.
ESV Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Feed and starve. If you Feed on Christ, you will be starving your Sin!
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Joh 15:4-5 ESV)