It is both relief and heartache to know that all true believers have sin remaining in them in this life. The great apostle said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). In another place he said, “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:23). And Jesus taught us to pray daily, “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12).
This does not mean we should become complacent about sin. It means we must fight it daily. We are commanded to constantly kill the sin that remains in our lives: “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. . . . Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5). This is not optional. This is mortal combat: Sin dies or we die. Not that we ever become perfect in this age, but we go on killing sins as they attack us from day to day. We do not settle in with sin. We fight and we kill.
How do we kill sin? Here are thirteen tactical steps in the battle:
- Take heart from the truth that the old sinful you is decisively already dead (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:3; Galatians 5:24). By faith we are united to Christ so that his death was our death (Romans 6:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14). This means three things: (a) The mortal blow to our “old man” has been struck; (b) the old self will not succeed in domination now; and (c) his final obliteration is certain.