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.

One Comment

  1. I agree with you in principle – but not the derivative of your solution to killing sin. You wrote “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”. This isn’t true and it is not biblical. Let’s look at a couple of scriptures: First, Psalms 23: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil; For You are with me;Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
    You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. Plainly – even in the old testament – David’s beautiful psalm – indicates that everything – including sin – The Lord leads me in the paths of righteousness – not myself. The Lord is with me to protect me though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. His rod and staff comfort me. What does it mean – thy rod and staff? The rod – such as the rod of a ruler reveals that rulers legitimate rule over subjects – the rod is representative of God’s authority of heaven and earth. The staff is more than a mere walking stick – it is the sustenance and support which we receive from God through Christ Jesus. His word, His promise, His living waters – not ours. Ephesians 6:11: Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Here the believer is to put on armor, but the key word is stand – Hestimi in Greek – which means to stand still and let God fight your battle. 2 Chronicles 20 Where 3 armies come against Jehoshaphat, and he stands before the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem and confirms who God is and that he is at a loss of what to do, but will do the will of God. Jehoshaphat did not fight his battle – he let God fight his battle. So, to kill sin – it is not about what you can do – or what you should do – but the relationship you build with God through Christ Jesus doing the will of God. And when you believe on Him who He sent you are righteous in the eyes of God and you are obedient. The deeper the relationship with God through Christ Jesus – the deeper the love for what is righteous, what is pure and the further away from sin will you place yourself. Even if you fall or become in a dark place – the blood of Jesus is greater than your sin and it was judged on Jesus at the cross – so you would be able to boldly come to the throne of God and confess your righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus and not by your own works. The battle is won for the Christian believer – you don’t battle with sin – because the blood has washed you clean. Now we deepen our relationship by reading and hearing the word of the Gospel and just as Jesus washed His disciples feet – we wash our feet with the word of the Gospel – to refresh, rejuvenate, and remind ourselves of who we are in Christ. To place a Christian believer under self works or self effort is to place them under the curse of the law, and become a bond servant of sin. While it is true that we want nothing to do with sin – the propensity of the flesh is to sin – therefore – we as believers rely on our spiritual life in Jesus and the relationship we build with Him to remove us from sinful ways and things within this earth. It is He, Jesus who has won the battle for us and we are saved, righteous, and obedient child of God. When your eyes are on Him, who was our sacrifice, then your eyes are not on sin. When you walk in the spirit you rely on Jesus not yourself. The battle is won – its done. When you deepen your relationship with your Savior, then and only then will you overcome sin, because you let Jesus overcome it for you. When you try, through your own self efforts, you will become frustrated, sin conscious, full of shame and guilt because you could not live up to the measure you are asked to live up to – but God is not asking you or demanding you do this – because His Son has already done it. This is a promise of God and good news worthy for all to hear – you are saved by faith in the Sacrifice and not your own works. Now deepen your relationship through the word of God through Christ Jesus and let Him take care of you. If you could do it own your own then there would be no need for the Sacrifice. Amen? Amen.

    Kind regards,
    J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians


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