E60: Don’t let anyone tell you victory over sin is impossible – What does the Bible say?
PODCAST: Listen to our guest Vern share about the important revelation he received while reading in the Bible as a youth.
In this episode, Milenko and Eunice chat with guest Vern about his personal experience as a youth, reading in the Bible and noticing for the first time that the Bible speaks about victory over sin – everywhere.
Stay tuned on the next episode “How victory over sin is possible for even the weakest person – What does the Bible say?” for Part 2 of this interview!
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 60: Don’t let anyone tell you victory over sin is impossible – What does the Bible say?
Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.
Eunice: Welcome to episode 60 of “Living the Gospel.” I am Eunice and I’m here today with …
Milenko: I’m Milenko.
Eunice: And we actually have a guest here today. And his name is Vern. Hi Vern.
Eunice: So we’re still on our “What does the Bible say?” series. And on this episode, we’re going to talk about, “What does the Bible say about victory over sin?” And we’re going to look at a whole bunch of Bible verses that talk about victory over sin and we’re going to talk about why it’s possible to get victory over sin from the Bible verses we read and how it is possible and also the promises for those who overcome.
Milenko: Yes, because when we’re talking about victory over sin … why would we take this topic? And actually, if you start looking at the Bible, from cover to cover it talks about warfare, it talks about battles, it talks about overcoming. I don’t think you can find a book in the Bible where it doesn’t have some mention of that. And the question is then, what are we supposed to overcome and what is the battle?
Eunice: So maybe we can define it a little better. What would you say, Vern, is victory over sin?
Vern: Well, I guess I would define it as … Victory over sin, to me, means that I no longer commit conscious sin or the things that I know to be sin at the time when I’m tempted. I say no to those things and I don’t do them. For me that would be victory over sin. It doesn’t mean that I’m without sin, but rather that temptation is overcome before it can actually come out. Before it can actually become sin in me. I’m still tempted, but I don’t do what I’m tempted to. And for example, some practical examples, victory over sin – I no longer cheat on my taxes. That’s probably an example near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts.
Eunice: Right, right. Most people know it’s wrong.
Vern: I no longer consciously entertain lustful thoughts about another person or allow those thoughts into my heart. When they come in, I say no. I no longer consciously demand my own will in the situations, maybe with my wife or with other people. I no longer consciously seek my own honor. And things like that. For me, that’s what conscious sin is, and victory over those things, that is victory over sin. As I understand it.
Eunice: Right. So, you said, Milenko that the Bible is full of verses about overcoming, right? And Vern, actually, on our website you shared a story of when you were younger and you began reading in the Bible by yourself and you noticed that actually, the Bible speaks about victory over sin everywhere. Could you share some verses that you remember reading back then?
Vern: Yeah, there were … it was quite interesting, because I didn’t really … I can’t really say I had faith for victory over sin at that time. I was a new Christian and I’d just started reading my Bible. I was in love with Jesus, I guess, because I had a really born-again experience. I started to read the Bible, and read it seriously, I guess you could say. And all of a sudden, verses I had seen before and read before, all of a sudden, they just became so alive for me, with that message of victory over sin. Especially Romans 6. Romans 6, there’s a bunch of verses in Romans 6. Should we take a look at some of those?
Eunice: I would also recommend too, if you’re listening to this, you know, not when you’re driving or cooking or something, but sitting down, bring out your Bible and follow along with us. Because it’s really amazing, these verses.
Vern: Yeah, Romans 6, from the beginning, it says there: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1. That seems like a really clear question. And then he comes with a very clear answer in the next verse: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:2. So those two verses alone, they make it quite clear. Even if you had only those tw verses in the Bible, I think you’d have to say, “Hmm, it seems like a life of victory over sin is exactly what the Bible says I’m called to!”
And then the rest of the chapter is just totally amazing in that same regard. He talks there in verse 3: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” Romans 6:3-5.
And I remember when I read that, I thought, well, what does it really mean? He’s talking about this “being united together with Jesus.” And “the likeness of His death.” I thought that’s … does that mean, like, I’ll get up on the cross, or how can I be, like, nailed to a cross like that? But then, I read a little bit further, and it says in verse 10, it says: “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Romans 6:10. And then it became clear for me that the death that He died was to sin, and then that’s exactly the life that I’m called to live too. A death to sin.
And in verse 11: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Romans 6:11-12. And it goes on. It’s a tremendous chapter there. But for me it was quite clear. A life of victory over sin – that’s the calling. And you read this chapter, you see it like, he’s writing like it’s totally possible! There’s no doubt on the Apostle Paul’s part when he wrote this, that this is a calling for every Christian. It’s not just for the disciples. It was for everybody.
Milenko: As it said there in verse 12: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies.” So, it’s really something we have to do, right? Not let it reign. It wants to. It really wants to come in, we see that all the time. We get tempted, these thoughts come up, feelings come up. And here it says, “do not let sin reign in our bodies.” And we have to count ourselves dead to sin. Doesn’t mean that sin is gone, that we don’t get tempted anymore. But by counting ourselves dead to it, then we can do something about it.
Vern: I know when I read that, and it’s a really good point there, “do not let …” And I thought, oh, so then it’s something I have to allow or not allow. Do I allow sin to reign in my mortal body or not allow it? So, it’s like, it’s a decision I make in faith. Yeah, in verse 14 there, it says: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:14. So sin is not called to have dominion – or reign – in our life. Because we’re under grace now. So, it’s a choice on my part.
Eunice: Didn’t you say that you also saw some verses in 1 John?
Vern: Yeah, 1 John is another place where there’s a whole lot of verses. We can maybe take a look at those too. In 1 John 2:1: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” So, he was writing these verses with one purpose: that they may not sin. For me, I read that and I was like, wow! So that’s the intention. I’m not to sin! And he just makes it so clear here. And he writes a little bit further there in verses 3 through 6 of chapter 2, 1 John: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:3-6. So, the first part there, to keep His commandments. That is a life of victory over sin. You could also define it that way. We defined it a little bit differently to make it more tangible for the average person, but keeping the commandments of God – that is victory over sin. And you can see here that He calls us to exactly that.
Eunice: Doing God’s will.
Vern: Yes. That amazing verse there, a little bit further in that chapter, verse 14: “I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” 1 John 2:14. Overcoming the wicked one, that’s Satan. And that’s another definition of victory over sin. You could define it that way too. And he was writing this to young people! Think that as a young person, John was writing this. Your calling is to live with Satan under your feet! Having overcome the wicked one! For me, when I read these things as a young person, I really got pretty excited, I have to say!
Eunice: It’s crazy! And also, the Old Testament, right. It’s also, we can read that as a foreshadowing of the New Testament and there’s battle in probably almost every book. You know, and you can compare that to the enemies that we have in our flesh.
Milenko: It’s really something that is a theme from the start to the end. God said it to Cain right at the beginning, “sin lies at the door, but you shall have dominion over it.” (Genesis 4:7.) Which is another word for “you shall overcome it.” If Cain had listened to Him, it would have been quite a different story there. But that’s exactly the thing, that we can overcome. So God begins with it and it goes all the way through, right to the end. The last chapter in the Bible speaks about those who overcome, and what their promises are, which we’ll get more back to. But it goes all the way through.
When we’re doing something like this, “what does the Bible say,” and we pick out a whole number of verses, it can be very easy to sound like we’re cherry-picking. That we’re, you know, picking out verses that suit the theme. But with this theme, every verse we pick, you can look at it in context and you’ll see that the whole context is about this very thing. How God works in us to do His will and His will for us in our life is to overcome sin. And I think that’s pretty amazing. So these Bible verses that we’re mentioning, if you think, “OK, yeah but, maybe that doesn’t quite fit in if you look at the whole …” Go and look at it, read the context, and I think you’ll find that’s exactly what the whole chapter, the whole book is talking about. And the books before and after.
Eunice: Keep reading.
Vern: But yeah, it’s exactly like that. And when I was young and started reading and seeing this, I said … I had a … I really … I struggled with it, actually, because the assembly I belonged to, they didn’t really, they didn’t preach victory over sin at all. They preached forgiveness for sin, and victory over sin was something they never talked about. But then these verses, as I read them, the Holy Spirit made them alive for me. And I have to say, I started getting really jazzed in my spirit. This was like, wow! This is a life! It’s not just … I don’t have to continue the way I am. So I thought, well, what should I do? So I took out the highlighter and in my Bible – in the old days, paper Bibles – and then started underlining and highlighting the verses that spoke about victory over sin. And then, if you have any doubts at all, I really highly recommend you do that. And just as Milenko said, you’ll see that after a while, your whole Bible is full of verses about victory over sin, crushing Satan, keeping God’s commandments, living a life pleasing to God. It really will light up for you, I think. It will really illuminate; become very living for you too, when you start to underline and really, like you said, like Milenko said now, read it in context. Really read it in context and see what it’s talking about.
Eunice: So Vern, would you say that being an overcomer is what defines a Christian, actually? Like, could I be a Christian and think, well, it’s nice to have victory over sin, but is it OK if I can’t manage it? What do you think?
Vern: Well, Jesus said quite clearly in John 8:33-36 that “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” And that “a slave does not remain in the house forever.” But He said there that He had come to set us really free. So that would seem to me to indicate that our calling is to be completely free from sin. That’s a disciple; that’s a Christian. Another verse that speaks to me there is Romans 6:22. He says, ”But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:22-23.
So for me it seems quite clear that being set free from sin, that’s what the Christian life is really all about. And that was something I had to learn. Because the assembly that I was in at the time, they spoke about being free from the stain of sin by the blood of the Lamb, and the blood of the Lamb covered them, and they already had victory because of that. But when I read these verses, I realized, no, in reality, we are called to become free from the very power of sin, not just from the stain of it. The stain is taken away by Jesus’ blood, that’s quite clear. We get forgiveness there. But the calling is actually that we get power over sin. And that’s the calling of a Christian. It speaks about becoming slaves of God with fruit unto holiness. And that is a life of victory over sin. But anyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. That’s what Jesus said. So I just want to, for me personally, I just had to take Jesus at His word and say, “OK; my calling is to live a life free from sin.” For me, that’s the calling of a Christian.
There’s another verse in 1 John. In chapter 5 of 1 John, verse 18. He says there … well, we can start in 17 actually: “All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” 1 John 5:17-18. So that’s quite a powerful verse, that whoever is born of God does not sin. And he who has been born of God keeps himself, just like we talked about it being a conscious decision, a conscious choice. Do I give myself here, or not? But it’s possible, according to the word of God, for us to keep ourselves so that we do not sin and the wicked one does not touch us.
Eunice: So, when they say “do not sin” here, they’re meaning do not sin consciously?
Vern: Do not sin consciously. Because we all, you know, maybe we should have brought that out a little clearer when we talked about what it means to have victory over sin, but to have victory over conscious sin doesn’t mean that I don’t do things that … Things just come out of my body that I don’t intend and I don’t want. Here I am. I made a decision to love God and serve Him with all my heart, and suddenly I find words coming out, or I find thoughts that have come in and I don’t do anything about. And maybe I say an unkind word to my wife, for example, or I start a quarrel with somebody and then afterwards it’s like, “Oh, why did you do that? That was really stupid!” You realize, well, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t mean to do that. That is not conscious sin. That is what the Bible calls a deed of the body. And so, when we’re talking about victory over conscious sin, it’s not victory over those things. It’s victory over all the things that I understand are wrong and are sin. And that I’m conscious about it in that moment of temptation.
Milenko: The thing is that when I’m tempted, that is the moment that I become aware of the sin. That’s the moment when it becomes conscious for me, to use that expression. It doesn’t mean I’ve committed it, right? But it means that I see it. And often it feels the same way. I’ve used this example before, but how do we get tempted to irritation, for example? It’s by me feeling irritated. I feel irritated. It feels like I am irritated. And then I have to be very aware, then I have to be conscious, about the decision I’ve made, the promise I’ve made to God. Now I will serve Him. And when I’ve got that before me, then I see that that irritation that I’m feeling right now, that’s not me. I’ve made a decision to serve God. So where is it coming from? It’s coming from that part of me that the Bible calls the flesh, where the sin dwells. And I have to separate myself from that. So it becomes conscious for me. But I don’t give in to it. And I don’t agree with it. So even if I’m feeling irritated, my conscious mind is saying this is not what I want. And then I’m taking up a battle. And I’m denying it. And through that, I overcome it.
Milenko: And the whole point is that it doesn’t usually feel like I’m really strong and really pure. It actually feels the opposite. When sin is conscious for me, it’s what I see dwells in me, and it usually feels like that is me. But it isn’t. I’ve made a decision to serve God.
Vern: That’s true. That’s how I’ve experienced it too. That in the time of temptation I feel incredibly weak. And then part of that learning process is to learn that how I feel doesn’t mean anything. That the power lies in God and not in myself.
Eunice: Well, this episode is definitely something that we can talk about for a while. But I think we have to round off here for now. But I would suggest that we continue on the next episode.
Milenko: Sounds like a good idea.
Eunice: Yeah. Thanks for listening for now, and remember to tune in again next week for part 2.
Milenko: Bye everyone.