Let’s imagine ourselves standing in water and having an air filled rubber ball in our hands. Our task is the following: we have to push the ball under the surface of the water. This is not difficult. Now comes the second task: we have to keep the ball under the water. This won’t be difficult either – for a short time. But as time goes, it will be more and more difficult, and sooner or later our patience or physical strength will run out and the ball will come to the surface.
As believers we find ourselves in a similar situation when we try to fight against sin. We live in a sinful world, which is full of evil powers. We are tempted, but we love the Lord and we don’t want to sin.
So what do we do? We probably pull our willpower together and make up our minds to resist the evil one: we won’t give in to temptation, we won’t do wrong, we won’t think wrong, we won’t say wrong, we won’t listen to evil, we won’t look at evil, we won’t be nervous... This usually works for a few days or a couple of weeks, but then we run out of the energies that we can mobilize against sin, and we fall... again!
As a result of the continuing failures, most people give up the struggle against sin. They accept it as a fact of life, that as long as we are on this earth, we will sin. They find Scriptures which seem to prove this, and arrange their lives accordingly.
Let’s go back to our ball which wants to come up to the surface, and let’s check our possibilities. We can’t increase our physical power. Even if we would go to a gym for months and make our muscles big, that wouldn’t be a solution. We can’t eliminate the buoyancy of the water, as it is controlled by laws even we are submitted to.
However, we can do something about the rubber ball. It is a drastic solution, but if we have a sharp or pointed tool nearby, then we can pierce our ball, the air escapes from it, and we find ourselves in a radically different situation.
Of course it’s not our purpose to cause harm to innocent objects. But God solved our sin problem in a similar way.
Our own strength, will and resolutions are powerless in the struggle against sin, because there are laws at work there, which we can not change.
“I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members”
But God has dealt with the sinner, and with it the power of sin also:
“our old man is crucified with Him [Jesus], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin”
(Romans 6:6-7). Glory to Jesus!
Salvation has put us into this position, but this is not ours automatically. It is ours through our faith, and this is a part of God’s sanctifying work. When this happens to us, it doesn’t mean that every sinful thing in our surroundings will cease to exist. Temptations won’t come to an end, and the devils won’t retire just because God sanctified us.
However, we get into a radically different situation: into a much better one. The compulsion, the continuous pressure, the power weighing on us to make us stumble over and over again, comes to and end. We experience that the liberty to which God delivers His children, is glorious indeed. (Romans 8:21.)
Let me add as an encouragement, that we can find plenty of Scriptures, which call us for not sinning. We do well if we strengthen ourselves with these.
1 Corinthians 15:34
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not!”
“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.”