Overcoming sin


A wonderful blessing we receive when we become Christians is the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.  At our baptism, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all past sins.   To arrive at a proper conclusion on any subject, we have to take all that the Bible says on that particular subject.  A classic case of this is in the comparison of two verses that pertain to cleansing from our sins. If one only reads Acts 22:16 they would deduct that the water of baptism is what washes our sins away.  In further reading, we learn in Revelation 1:5 that it’s the blood of Jesus that cleanses us of all sins.  These passages do not contradict each other.  Rather, they complete the subject matter.  Each without the other is only part of the story.
Acts 22:16 (KJV) 16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Revelation 1:5 (KJV) 5 “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
This does not mean that our problem with sin is over.  We still sin at times after becoming Christians - 1 John 1:8-10 (KJV) ⁸ “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ⁹If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ¹⁰ If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Admittedly, we all have a sin problem, and the blood of Jesus Christ was shed for our initial cleansing from all sin, and for a continual source of cleansing as we confess our sins.  When one is baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) they are then added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:41, 47).  This puts us in a position as children of God to confess our sins and be cleansed of our sins without another baptism (1 John 1:9).
To overcome sin, we need to understand how it develops.  The Bible outlines the development of sin in James 1:14-15 (KJV) ¹⁴ “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. ¹⁵ Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”   The first stage of this development is Temptation.  In James 1:14, we see that “temptation” includes two things: Desire “lust”, suggesting a strong desire for something) and Enticement (an opportunity and encouragement to satisfy the desire).
Putting it in the form of a simple equation:  Temptation = Desire+ Opportunity.  We can illustrate this way: A small boy is tempted to steal some cookies when he wants (desires) them and has an occasion (opportunity) to take them.  The temptation becomes stronger if he wants them badly and has a good chance of getting them without being seen.  We should note that at this stage in the development of sin, actual sin has not yet been committed.  It’s not a sin to be “tempted” for Jesus Himself was “tempted as we are, yet without sin,” (Heb. 4:15; 2:18).
The second stage is “sin” itself... “When desire (lust) has conceived, it gives birth to sin” - James 1:15.  It becomes sin when we act and yield to the temptation.  Thus sin involves the added step of some sort of action on our part.  Sin equals desire plus opportunity plus action, or in some cases the failure to act.
The third stage involves the consequences of unrepented and unforgiven sin: “Death.”  “And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” - James 1:15.  The “death” spoken here refers to spiritual separation from God.  This separation occurs first in this life - cf. Is 59:2. If we die physically in this state, then we will experience the “second death”, which involves eternal punishment! - Re 21:8.   Desire + Opportunity + Action + No Forgiveness = Death!

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