View Full Version : CSF: Battling Sin - 6 Strategies

10-26-2006, 09:28 AM
More from Piper, continuing from yesterday:

How Shall We Do Battle Against Sin?

How then shall we fight? I want to look with you now at how Romans 6:11-14 teaches us to do battle with sin.

First, remember that five chapters on God, sin, and justification have gone before chapter 6. Paul does not teach us how to do battle with sin until we have learned how Christ has done battle with sin first and done what we could not do and what the law could not do. This is astonishing for us pragmatic Americans. Five chapters to help us see why justification by faith is utterly essential as a foundation for doing battle with sin! You cannot fight sin successfully until you know your sin is forgiven. The only sin that you can triumph over in practice is a sin that Christ has died for. If he had not died to take away our condemnation, we could make no progress at all in sanctification. You don't make yourself holy in order to be justified. You are justified by faith in order to become holy. That is why Romans 1-5 precedes Romans 6. Your triumph over sin in the body follows Christ's triumph over sin on the cross.
Strategy #1 Christ Died for Your Sin

So strategy #1 in your battle with sin is that Christ died for your sin. Romans 3:25 said, "God displayed [him] publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith." That is, Christ shed his blood so that God's wrath would be propitiated, that is, satisfied, appeased, taken away. Or as Romans 5:8-9 says, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." That is strategy #1 in our battle against sin. Don't ever skip it. If you do, Satan will defeat you with a hopeless and guilty conscience.
Strategy #2 You Died and Rose with Christ

Strategy #2 is that when Christ died and rose again, you died and rose again. Or to be more precise, God viewed you as united with Christ so that his execution for sin, became your execution and his reward with resurrection became your reward. Romans 6:6, "Our old self was crucified with him." Verse 8: "We have died with Christ." (See Galatians 2:20; 5:24; 6:14.) These first two strategies of defeating sin in our lives happened historically outside ourselves before we were even born. This is history.
Strategy #3 We Have Become United with Christ

Strategy #3: God united us with Christ by faith. This is the application to us of what was accomplished for us on the cross and in the life of Jesus. Romans 6:5, "We have become united with Him in the likeness of His death." How does this happen? Paul answers in 1 Corinthians 1:30, "But by [God's] doing ["from him," evx auvtou] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." God grafted us into Christ. What was our part? Faith in Christ looking on what he has done and what he is and what he promises to do, and receiving that as a free gift as our treasure in life.
Strategy #4 God Justifies Us

Strategy #4: God justifies us by this faith because we are united with Christ. He forgives all our sins and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it like this: "[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." As God reckoned Christ to be sinful though he was righteous, so he reckons us to be righteous, though we are sinful. And he does this because we are "in Christ."
So far, then. Strategy #1: Christ died for our sins. Strategy #2: We died with him. Strategy #3: God united us to Christ through our faith. Strategy #4: God justifies us because of our union with Christ. He counts our sins as punished in Christ and Christ's righteousness as credited to us. All of that precedes the command of Romans 6:11. That is the difference between Christianity and every other religion and every other moral improvement program.
Strategy #5 Consider Yourselves Dead to Sin

But now comes strategy #5 in the battle with sin and it is really an extension of the faith in Strategy #4. But Paul treats it separately, so I will too. Strategy #5 is a mental and volitional act preceding direct engagement with temptation. It's found in Romans 6:11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Notice two things about this strategy:
1) It is something you do with your reason and your will. You "reckon" something to be so. (For "reckoning," see 2:26; 8:18, 36; 14:14.) "Reckon yourselves" (logi,zesqe e`autou.j) to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." The "even so" at the beginning of verse 11 refers back to verse 10 where Paul said Christ died to sin and lives to God. "Even so" as you have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection "even so" bring your mind and will into alignment with this. Think this way. Know yourself this way. Count this to be the truth about yourself. You died and you rose with Christ.
2) Notice that this deadness to sin and life to God is "in Christ." Paul is still, amazingly, at the objective level of what is true outside of yourself. He is pointing you still to a reality about you that is objective and external to yourself. In the strategy of verse 11, your death to sin and life to God is not yet something in experience. Paul is saying: first bring your mind and heart into alignment with all that objective reality in the first four steps: Christ died for you, you died in him, you were united with him by God's doing through faith, you were justified. Now think this way. Know yourself this way. Seize this reality as who you truly are. Welcome and embrace this work of God and all it means for you as your treasure in life. (This is why I said that this strategy is an extension of the faith of Strategy #4. Reckoning ourselves to have died and risen with Christ is believing it and embracing it with all its promises as precious beyond all earthly things.)
Strategy #6 Say No . . . and Choose God

Now comes the direct engagement with temptation in Strategy #6: When sin sends deceitful Judas-desires to tempt you to present your members as weapons of unrighteousness, prefer another Ruler, God.
Notice the "therefore" at the beginning of verse 12. "Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." The active engagement of our will now in verse 12 comes after and is based on all the other strategies of God. The bumper sticker and the T-shirt morality, "Just Say No," is not Christian. You don't just say no. Five great things have preceded and undergirded and enabled us to say no. Saying no is Strategy #6.
O we must say No. When sin attacks with the Judas-desire of lust, we say, No! When he attacks with the Judas-desire of covetousness we say, No! When he attacks with the Judas-desire of alcohol or nicotine or marijuana or crack cocaine, we say, No! When sin attacks with the Judas-desire for retaliation or gossip, we say, No! So yes, there is a real engagement of our will. Choose to say, No!
But it is so much more. It is based on what God did in Christ, and what happened to us in Christ, and who God is for us in Christ and who we know ourselves to be in Christ. We embrace all that as our treasure. And because of that, we say, No.
But there is one more thing to stress about this last Strategy #6 (verse 12) "Don't let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires." Notice that sin is attacking through desires, Judas-desires. We are called to choose against those desires. "Don't let sin reign." Don't present your eyes and tongue to fulfill that desire. Don't choose those desires.
But what is this choosing? It is preferring. To choose is to prefer one thing over another thing. If God is to get glory in our choosing against sin, it must be because we regard God and what he is and promises as preferable. Choosing is finding one thing preferable to another thing. So you can describe the battle at this point in negative terms: Say no to the Judas-desires of sin on the basis of what God has done and who you are in Christ. You are dead to sin and its desires; they do not look preferable. Or you can describe the battle positively: When sin sends his Judas-desires to tempt you, prefer God and his work and his ways and his promises. See God as preferable to the fleeting pleasures of sin. You are alive to God and he looks preferable. If Satan attacks with deceitful desires, counter with reliable desires that will not let you down, and that lead to everlasting joy.
In other words, the front-line battle against sin, which glorifies God, is based on what he has done for us in Christ to forgive all our sins and count us righteous in him, and is fought by experiencing death to Judas-desires and life to new desires, new preferences God and his way!

O labor to know what God has done for you in Christ. And look to him continually until you see him as preferable to all other things.

10-26-2006, 09:40 AM
Thanks Kerry! I remember hearing this on WoTM Radio during the summer, and you hit the nail on the head again! Thank God for ya!