How to kill your sin| a practical discussion

Posted on April 28, 2011 by

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I will own up right off the bat. I have not succeeded in killing all my sin. I still struggle and fight daily to be the man God has called me to be. But I believe that if you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you will have had things that “work” and things that don’t. Here I want to talk about things that work, and a little about the things that don’t.

Where to start: First step to Killing your sin is to know what it is. This is part self reflection and part illumination of the Holy Spirit. This can be uncomfortable and sometimes really hard. Uncomfortable in that we tend to like ourselves, we’re pretty cool people, and thinking poorly of ourselves doesn’t feel quite right. And hard in that, like the interview question “what are some of your weaknesses”, it’s sometimes just hard to think of anything we’re doing wrong.

How: Read your bible. It’s God’s word and in it we will see Him lay some things out pretty clearly, and other things will be less clear but still as applicable to our lives. Second, ask those closest to you (i.e. spouse, parents, siblings, and friends). Even those that aren’t Christians will be able to tell you how you fail at being a decent person. Finally spend some time reflecting on your life. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you your sins, and then let Him. Think back through your life and don’t fight when you hear Him say “Yeah, you failed there”.

It also may be helpful to write these things down. For me writing solidifies whatever it is I’m trying to remember, it is also a good way to track progress or simply keep a record of your spiritual growth.

Now what: Ok so after finding some sin to kill, how do I kill it? This is where it’s way easier to say than to do. Repent, seriously repent. I’m not talking about the confess it and forget variety that we’ve all done. I’m talking about true repentance. Go before God, in prayer, and own up to how you have failed Him. If you have a list written down, bring it, but don’t just read it. Talk to Him about each one. If you aren’t really sorry about it pray that He would break your hard heart. It’s not just His law that we have offended, we have wounded God and added to the suffering of Jesus.[1] If you still don’t really care, pray harder and come back later. God doesn’t want your empty offerings of sorrow. He wants, and deserves, your heart.

After laying your soul bare before God, rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus has already paid for all of it. Now you need to walk away from it. If you turn right back to it, you haven’t really repented. But here’s the kicker, we have no power in ourselves to stop sinning. Acknowledging this will make us turn to God for help. Pray for the Holy Spirit to change your heart. Then start living like you are free from that sin, because you are. You may still screw up, I know I do. But keep turning it over to God and keep asking for His help. As an aside, one of the reasons that we return to the sins we try to leave is because they are comfortable. It’s in our human nature to want those things. But now we have the Spirit of God living in us, and He is going to transform us to the likeness of Christ. How close we get in this life is a matter of grace.

Is turning away from your sin enough? No, simply trying to turn away from our sin will result in one of two things. If we are depending on God for our strength and He grants us the enormous grace to take that sin from our lives, then we are simply going to be someone who doesn’t do that thing. More likely than not our sinful nature will transfer to something else, the easy example is pride in overcoming that sin. If we don’t get victory over that sin, we can fall into despair. Thinking either that we have failed to live up to God’s standards, or that God simply refuses to remove that sin and is in some way judging us.

Part of repentance, the part that often gets overlooked, is turning back to God. We confess our sins, we turn away from them, AND we turn back to God. This is the part that I struggle with most but have found the most fruit from. Seeking God will take your eyes off all the things that clamor for your attention and worship. It’s like Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus. (Matt. 14:29) He actually does it until he looks at anything except Jesus. God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus, and the Bible is God’s word to us about Him. So devote some time each morning to meet God in His word. I know that morning isn’t the ideal for most, especially for me, but it has been the most effective for me. I know that great men of the faith have started their day in scriptures, seems to have worked for them. For me, being a night owl, it’s easier for me to say that I’ll do it at night. But I usually don’t, and if I do it ends up being more reactionary confession than proactive preparation. Also, pray. Not the laundry list sessions of “God, do this for me” stuff. Pray around and through your bible reading. Ask for the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to see in it. Pray as you read. And pray that you will be transformed by the Word. Then keep praying, be in dialogue with God throughout your day. Thank Him for the blessings, lift up your struggles, and ask that He brings back what you read that morning.

Sum up:

1)      Know your sin

  1.      Know the bible
  2.      Know yourself
  3.       Ask those who know you

2)      Repent

  1.       Confess your sin
  2.       Turn from your sin
  3.        Turn to God – Intentionally be seeking God everyday. 

This is a simplification, so look at it as the framework that I try to work in. I pray that it will be helpful and that we will be a people that live lives of repentance.


[1] Question: “added to the suffering of Jesus” is this statement sound? Can we add to the sufferings of Christ? If Jesus died once on the Cross and in that death paid for all the sin of mankind; past, present, and future, is it this a false way to talk about sinning? Personally I find that it is a more emotive way to think about it, in that it hurts my heart to think that the more I sin the more I lay on Jesus. What are your thoughts?

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Posted in: Praxis, Theology