Conquering Sinful Addictions

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18 ESV

I hear so many Christians say that they don’t know how to conquer their sinful addictions. They act as though Jesus didn’t already conquer their sins, and as though Satan still has power over them. They act as though they are doomed to “struggle” with sinful addiction the rest of their lives, too. But “struggle” for them often means regularly giving in, and consistently failing.

But, is that the life that Jesus gave us in Him? No! Does that mean we will never sin? No! But, Jesus delivered us from our slavery (addiction) to sin. His grace to us is that he made a way out for us from under the yoke of slavery to sin, and he freed us and he empowers us to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to walk daily in his righteousness and holiness.

An Allegory

Several years ago I had some work done on my teeth. The dentist told me that I could not chew on one particular side of my mouth for several weeks. But, I was in the habit of chewing on that side. So, when I began to chew, habitually I started to chew on the wrong side, but I caught myself, and I stopped, and then I moved my chewing to the other side. It took me about three days to break a life-long habit. And, now I had formed a new habit.

In fact, the new habit was so good now, that when she released me to now go back to chewing on the other side, I had to go through the same process all over again. And, again it took about three days to break the new habit and to resume the old habit. So, what does that tell us? It tells us that breaking habits is possible, but they take work, and it involves persistence, and it requires saying “No” to the old habit and “Yes” to the new habit until we no longer follow the old, but now we follow the new.

Now, that was just in my flesh. That is something anyone can do. We can all break old habits and form new habits by saying “No” to the old and “Yes” to the new to where the old is gone and the new has replaced the old. So, imagine what can be done in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit living within us as we yield control of our lives over to God, and in the power of the Spirit of God we resist Satan, we flee temptation, and we obey our Lord. If we do this, we will be victorious!

For, not one of us needs to spend the rest of our lives “struggling” with sinful addiction. If we do, scripture indicates that we don’t really believe in Jesus Christ, that he is not Lord of our lives, and that we are the ones still in control over our own lives. We are not really saying “No” to sin and “Yes” to God. We just think we are. For, if we walk in the flesh and not in the Spirit, we don’t have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17).

Therefore, if we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify (habitually) the sinful cravings of our flesh. Sounds simple. It is, because we are doing this in the power of the Spirit of God and not in our own flesh. We are yielding control of our lives daily over to the Spirit of God, and daily, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and daily we are putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us.

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

We need to take this seriously, because this warning was not given to the people out in the world, but it was given to the people in the gatherings of the church. If we practice such things. If these are our “go to,” our habit, our lifestyle, our consistent and regular way in which we conduct our lives, then we are not among those who are going to inherit eternal life with God.

And, the truth of the matter is that many who profess faith in Jesus Christ are practicing such things, yet they are convinced that their sins don’t matter to God, and that their sins will not affect their eternal security.

Also, the truth of the matter is that many who call themselves followers of Jesus are walking in sin, still “struggling” with addiction, not because victory is not possible, but because they don’t really and truly want to be free. They want to hold on to control over their own lives. They don’t want to give up control to anyone, including God. So, they try in their flesh to not do certain things, and they may be successful to a point, but they tend to return to the “same old” patterns of behavior because they still have not let go and let God.

So, let’s go back to v. 16. If honestly we want to be free from the control of sin over our lives, we have to yield control of our lives over to God. Then, in the power of God’s Spirit at work within us we walk (in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. We resist Satan. We flee temptation. We get rid of those things which are leading us into temptation, too. And, we don’t tempt fate or play with the sin even one tiny bit. And, we walk in obedience to what the Word teaches and what our Lord shows us.

If we say “No” to God, and we don’t repent of that, we aren’t going to move forward. If we hold back even in one little area, it will hamper our ability to resist Satan, to flee temptation and to daily be able to put on that armor of God. We have to surrender our lives to Jesus if we want victory over the flesh, and we have to walk in the Spirit in obedience to what he says.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 ESV

If we are yielded to the Spirit of God, and we are surrendered to His will, and if we are walking according to the Spirit, and no longer are we regularly yielding to the control of the flesh, then the fruit of the Spirit should be evidenced in our lives. Again, this doesn’t mean we will be perfect, or that we will never fail in this, but this should be what is coming out in our lives as a matter of habit instead of all the ugliness that used to come out when we were under the control of Satan and of the flesh.

So, do you want victory over the flesh? Do you want to be free from your sinful addictions? Then, you have to mean business with God. This is not something you can casually manage on your own in your own timing according to your own criteria. You have to let go and let God, and truly let God have full reign of your life. Then, when you walk in the Spirit, you will not gratify the sinful cravings of your flesh.

To Be Like Him

An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture

Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.

Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.

Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!

When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.

 

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