Have you ever wished that God would make it so you could never sin again? Maybe there is a sin in your life that you keep coming back to, and you feel like you will never break free from its tight grip. You know you are truly saved, but feel that you should be doing better. You put forth a lot of effort to improve, but find that you don’t have the power or ability to master your sin.
I think that is the experience of many, if not most, Christians. In other areas of your life, we may be able to put forth extra effort to accomplish our goals and solve problems, but breaking sinful habits is much more difficult. You know that positionally you are clean in God’s sight because of the work of Christ. But you still wish you could conquer certain vices.
An Analogy: Cleansed by Water
One rule we have at my house is to wash your dishes as soon as you are done with them. Though not followed perfectly, the idea is to immediately wash away the food and grime left on your plates, bowls, and silverware so that it doesn’t get caked on and become difficult to get off the next day.
Unfortunately, my family (including me!) does not always follow this rule. That means that the pasta sauce, old cereal, and leftover food can get plastered onto the dishes so that it takes more than a bit of elbow grease to remove it. Sometimes the leftover food seems to become one with the dish and that, no matter how hard we scrub, it will never come off.
That is often how it can feel with our sin. We have become so good at sinning that it becomes a part of us, something we cannot separate from our very being. We feel as if we can never be totally clean because we know how dirty we have been in the past.
The best remedy for food stuck in this situation is to leave a dish soaking in water for a period of time. This allows the water to loosen up the grime and dirt so that it can be wiped away, usually without much effort.
The cleansing power of the water over a period of time is enough to get rid of the dirt and grime that you could not get off no matter how hard you scrubbed.
Breaking sinful habits works in a similar way, but instead of using physical water, we need the living water of Christ and the water of the Word.
True believers in Jesus Christ are already clean in God’s sight because of the blood of Jesus Christ, but can still struggle to live in obedience because they live in the flesh. That is why we need to know not only what can help us live more obediently, but Who can help us live more obediently as well.
We try to fight sin with every fiber of our being, but feel like we have a long way to go. Doing this may scrub some dirt and grime away, but we will likely have some left over sin-parts stuck that can’t be scrubbed away. What we need is a good soaking.
In Ephesians 5:25-26, Paul describes the reason that Christ gave himself up for the church, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…”
A Reality: Cleansed by God’s Word
When we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, we are better able to ward off temptation and sin. Our mind is fixed on God’s greatness instead of sin. Psalm 119:11 describes this when it says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
One particular thing to focus on in reading the Word is the grace of God, particularly shown at the cross of Christ. Understanding the fact that God didn’t have to offer forgiveness and salvation to sinners will instruct us and cause us to live more godly lives.
For the grace of God…teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14).
When we soak ourselves in the Word of God, meditating on God’s grace, God will reveal himself and make us more like him. All of those sins that seemed to be a part of us will be separated like the grime is separated from the dirty dishes. The strong grip of sin and the enemy will be loosened by the water of the Word.
The power of God’s Word to sanctify us is an amazing truth. But it is not the only thing that God gives us.
God himself rolls up his sleeves and scrubs us clean by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11). The things we couldn’t do ourselves are able to be done with God the Spirit’s help.
The Holy Spirit will work and change our hearts to have an increasing love for God and hatred for sin. Though we will never be perfect in this life (1 John 1:8), the Word of God and the Spirit of God are powerfully at work in our lives and able to cleanse us and make us more and more like Christ.
By the grace of God, we are sanctified by the Spirit of God, so that we can live for the glory of God.
If you are struggling with a particular sin and feel like your life is dirty, why don’t you cry out to God and ask him to move in you with his Holy Spirit and by his Word?