Troublesome Topic: The Holy Spirit Can Help Us Live In Victory Over Sin

Lesson 5 of 5

Romans 6:12


Therefore, Do not let sin rule in your mortal body so that you obey its desires,


Because you consider yourself dead to sin, do not let sin have control of your physical body, which is mortal, which would result in you following its desires.

Romans 6:13


Neither yield the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but yield yourselves to God as those who are living from among the dead, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness.


What’s more, do not surrender the parts of your body to the control of sin to be tools for doing wrong, rather surrender your entire selves to God as those who are alive because you have been brought out from death into life, and surrender the parts of your body to God to be tools for doing right.

Romans 6:14


For sin will not rule over you.


For sin will not have control over you.

One of the benefits of the New Covenant, and a real difference between it and the Former Covenant, is that it offers an effective means by which we can be freed from the dominion of sin in our lives. What a glorious reality we can enjoy right here and now; but, at the same time, what an awesome responsibility, and what a daunting task is ours. That task is to eliminate the barriers in our lives so that the Holy Spirit can work in us unhindered.

Living in victory over sin is possible for all believers, at least for short periods of time. We tend to think the phrase “victory over sin” means from now till the time I die. While that is possible, it is very rare. Matthew Kelly wrote a book called “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity.” The lie that he calls the biggest one is this: “Holiness is not possible.”

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Where did that idea come from? It did not come from God or from the Bible. Therefore, it is a lie. Matthew Kelly writes, “Whenever and wherever Christians have taken the idea that holiness is possible seriously, Christianity has thrived.  Whenever and wherever the biggest lie in the history of Christianity has prevailed and everyday holiness has been set aside, Christianity has fumbled along clumsily with limited impact or become stagnant.”

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He likes to ask people, “Have you ever had a holy moment?” Most believers say “yes.” Then he asks, “Can you live in that kind of holiness for 5 minutes?” Sometimes people answer, “Yes” and sometimes they answer “no.” If they say “yes,” he asks, “If you can do so for five minutes, can you live in that kind of holiness for an hour?” Then “for a day?” The point is that true holiness is a God-centered life lived moment by moment. The goal is for us to grow in our relationship with God until our moments grow toward a holy life and we are living in victory over sin much more than we are living under the control of sin. It is even possible to live without sinning for long periods of time. That is how the Christian life is portrayed in the New Testament and that should be the desire of each believer. Here I am defining sin as “willful disobedience of the clear will of God.” Those who say “we sin in word, thought and deed every day” are hopefully talking about doing things that fall short of God’s glory, but not necessarily willful disobedience. I hope they do not mean that we actually sin willfully every day and there is nothing we can do to change that because we should not excuse regular sinning. We should strive to live a life that glorifies God every moment of every day, and when we do something that we know displeased God, we should repent, ask for forgiveness and move on.

I disagree with the common practice in the world and in the church, to require former addicts (what type of addict it matters not) to keep referring to themselves as addicts even if they have been free from that addiction for a year or several years. We all know that slipping back into that addiction is always possible, but we should be known by what characterizes us in the present, not what we were in the past, or what we might do in the future. If someone is living in victory we should celebrate that, and not focus on a past weakness. By constantly referring to themselves in the negative, they are reinforcing the wrong thing. We tell them to send themselves a negative message and after they do so, others who are present affirm that message to be true. No! God does not want us to live in the past, nor live in fear of the wrong we might do in the future. God wants us to maintain a proper balance, – we can be more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37) even while surrounded by things that want to claim control over our lives, which in the case of former addicts means not overly fearful and not lacking in caution. Here is an illustration. The highest percentage of POWs who survived their POW experience were not those who were overly negative and not those who were overly positive, saying “We’re going to be out by Christmas, or by my birthday, etc.” Most of those who survived had a proper balance; they recognized the reality that their situation might last a long time, while maintaining hope of something changing. In the same way, a former addict needs to be realistic about the need for caution while also having a positive outlook which says, “I’m living in victory right now and I praise God for it.” 

God established a set of covenant conditions that we cannot fulfilled if we rely on what we can do on our own. We must depend on the Spirit of God. The human tendency is to do things under our own abilities until we get ourselves in situations we cannot get ourselves out of. That is when we call on God and begin to ask what it means to rely on the Holy Spirit. But really none of us can meet the covenant conditions the way God desires unless we do so with His leading and empowering.

The next lesson in the Full and Medium Series on Covenants is: Social Media and Algorithms Are Hindering Brain Development



The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, by Matthew Kelly, p. 32.


The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, by Matthew Kelly, p. 57.