9770084646_81e17ca18c_bAs I was listening to a sermon recently from a well-known Pastor, he shared a story about his mom giving him a Bible with a very impactful sentence she had written in the front. It said, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” I love this statement because it shows the war with sin that the believer is in, and it also demonstrates the importance of the Bible in the believer’s fight against sin.

When the believer fails to engage in combat against sin, he or she loses their joy and their potential impact on the world for the glory of God. Thus, fighting against sin is of vital importance for the believer. It was John Owen who famously coined the phrase “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” In this post, I want to share 4 practical steps for you to kill sin. But before sharing I want to briefly point out a couple of truths from Romans 8:12-13.

You Are Free From Sin’s Domination But Not It’s Presence
Romans 8:12 says, “So then we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—.” In this verse Paul builds off His teaching in vs. 1-11 saying, because of the Holy Spirit’s residence in you, the flesh (the natural man) is no longer the controlling driver in your life. This verse is a means of great rejoicing for all true believers!

But conversely, we all have had those moments when our old man begins to rear its ugly head. We are having a great day when all of a sudden, the anger, lust, jealousy, pride, sloth, etc… seems to be controlling our lives and minds again. Why is that? I thought we were free from the domination of sin! The answer is that we are free from sin’s domination, but not from it’s presence.

The Bible is clear about the remaining presence of sin in our lives… like artifacts left over after a civilization has died off. In fact, it is just one chapter prior in Romans 7:14-25 that Paul passionately communicates his own battle against the flesh and its sinful desires. This truth is known as the doctrine of “Indwelling Sin.”

Because Sin Remains We Must Put It To Death
Paul continues, telling believers to put to death the deeds of the body, “but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13b) The Christian is to be in a constant process of putting to death the deeds of the body. “Putting to death” is a present-active-indicative in the Greek which means it is a continual action that the Spirit filled believer does. Personally, I love how the KJV translates the phrase “put to death” by using the word “mortify. John Owen said,

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all the days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.” [1]

So the question naturally arises. How are we to put to death (mortify) the deeds of the flesh? Below are four steps:

Step 1: View Sin as God Views Sin
Do you respond to different sins differently? Do you consider certain sins as worse than others? If you do, then you have to ask yourself, “Do I have a clear view of what sin really is?”

You might appeal to the fact that certain sins display a callousness in your heart. Or, you may compare your level of sin to another person who sins much more. But comparison is no excuse. Sin is sin, and all sin separates you from a Holy God. The smallest sin to the greatest sin are viewed by God as ugly, distasteful, and worthy of wrath. Do you view sin in this manner? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 6:23)

Step 2: Remove Opportunities of Temptation
We need to radically eliminate temptations to sin. Do you struggle with pornography? A prudent step would be to leave your computer in your car or the living room, not in your bedroom. Do you struggle with coveting another person’s life, body, or popularity? A prudent step would be to take a break from Social Media or simply get rid of it.

Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,…If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,…If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,”…(Mark 9:43; 45; 47)

Step 3: Memorize and Meditate on Scripture
The Word of God contains specific truths that will equip you for the specific moments of temptation that you will face. The question is whether you have scripture written on your heart for the moment of temptation when it comes. David wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word…Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:9; 11)

Step 4: Remember Your Freedom From Sin’s Domination
Paul in Romans said, “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Rom. 6:6)

O the wonder of the Gospel! The cross of Christ has dealt an irrevocable blow to sin’s condemning power over the believer. And the Holy Spirit’s residence grants and gives the believer the ability to no longer be obligated to walk in the daily power of sin. This truth should encourage you all the more to stand firm and fight against every temptation that would lead to an occasion of sin. “The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.” [2]


[1] John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, ed. Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), 47

[2] Ibid., 49

Posted by Albert Kilgore

Albert is the Assoc. Pastor of Children and Student Ministry at Mission Bible Church in Orange County and is completing a Master of Divinity degree. Albert is married to wife, Ali, and has two children.

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