By Drew Zuverink
"For if we have been united with Jesus in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with Jesus so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin."
Many Christian's have certain sins that they cannot seem to escape. Their inability to stop committing these sins feels like torture. They try everything. They read books, they get accountability partners, they try harder and harder, but no matter what they do, they wonder, "Will I ever defeat this sin or will I be a slave to it my whole life?" Romans 6 gives Christian's the correct mindset that can lead to the freedom that so many of us long for but have not experienced yet.
First, Paul mentions that Christian's have been united with Jesus once and for all when they repent of their sins and turn to him for forgiveness. This gives us the freedom to battle our sin without the fear of rejection if we fail. Of course God's goal, and our goal, is to try to win our battles against sin, but because we are united with Christ through faith, God accepts us regardless of the results. If God's acceptance of us depended on our performance against sin, we would be paralyzed by our fear of failure and would not have true freedom to attack sin. This is the first, and most important, part of our winning mindset.
Secondly, regardless of your previous track record, you can expect to be free from sin's control, and not just in heaven, but in this life also. Paul speaks with certainty when he describes the new life that Christ died for us to have. Jesus did not just come so that people could go to heaven, but he came to free us from the mastery of sin in this life as well. As you well know, this does not come easy though. Virtues and vices are habits, and over the course of many years, many of us have built some very sinful habits that are now very hard to break. Some of us have spent countless hours creating those bad habits and now they are more like addictions that are keeping us captive. As is true with all addictions, it is possible to eventually experience freedom, but it might take a very long time. The hard part is believing that we can one day experience freedom, even when we haven't had any success yet. But it's true! I know many people who have battled porn for 5,10,15 years after becoming a Christian before they defeated it. Praise God!
The final part of the mindset that leads to freedom, is to always remember that sin does not die by itself, but it must be killed. A few chapters later, Paul writes in Romans 8:13, "If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." It is true that some of our sinful desires are immediately changed when we receive Christ's forgiveness, and praise God for that! Someone recently told me that he used to swear like a sailor but once he became a Christian, he didn't really have a desire to talk like that anymore. But that isn't the case with all of our sins. Our stronger sinful desires do not just die off once we become Christians, but must be put to death by the spirit. This means that we cannot aimlessly run away from sin, but we must run to God. It was sin that used to satisfy us, and unless we replace that satisfaction with God, we will turn right back to our old ways.
So brothers and sisters, allow the words of scripture to form your mindset against sin. Remember that you are free to try and to fail, because your acceptance doesn't hinge on your performance, but on Christ Jesus.
Remember that, for many of you, the one or two specific sins that you cannot seem to control - those are addictions that have been formed through years of bad habits. Know that you can experience freedom, but it will probably take a lot of time and effort. So don't give up hope.
And finally, remember that good habits help to break bad ones. Christian's still have a sinful, cancerous, nature inside of them - and in order to kill it off we must come under the radiation of God's presence. God's word is power, make a habit of immersing yourself in it often. Ultimately, freedom from sin is found in enjoyment in God and so without genuine enjoyment in the things of God, we will never experience freedom from sin. So pursue satisfaction in God and you will experience more victories in your fight against sin. Because like Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh," - It'll just happen.