I met Elisabeth Elliot during my sophomore year at Wheaton College. She had a glow about her, and she walked with grace and sophistication. The warmth in her eyes made you want to lean into her words. Those eyes were welcoming even with years of heartache, sacrifice, and service. She...
You’ll never defeat this.
My mind recites this line like a broken record when ugly, deceptive sin threatens to trap me in its patterns. Because God has rescued me from my former way of living, I know I need to stop engaging in behavior that defies his will, and live in the way that pleases him.
But persistent sins like worry and pride are so entrenched in my heart that they seem impossible to overcome. I feel as though the weight of shame and guilt will always hound me since my sins are too heavy to shake off by my own efforts.
As I carry these burdens, unable to unload them, I forget the deeper truth revealed in human weakness: What I can’t accomplish, Christ already did.
He Secured Your Redemption
The author of Hebrews emphasized confidence in his letter to early Christians converted from Judaism. Through logical arguments explaining how Jesus surpassed the Old Testament models of deliverance, he encouraged these young believers to resist temptation and endure trials by holding fast to hope.
This hope is grounded in the truth of how Christ fulfilled and annulled the law of atonement under the Old Covenant, which provided a way to cover but not remove sin. In his death and resurrection, Jesus accomplished what the sacrificial system couldn’t: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrew 9:12).
Jesus eliminated the need to try to cover sin by paying the penalty for it on the cross. When he breathed his last words—“It is finished”—he completed the work of making us right before God (John 19:30).
Knowing our salvation is secure, we can rest from striving to rescue ourselves. Instead of working hard to live perfectly in order to earn our salvation, we are free in Christ’s salvation to enjoy him and live like him, set apart by God to walk in the good works he prepared for us.
Through our great High Priest, we can draw near to our Creator without guilt or fear of punishment. He ripped the temple veil that separated sinners from a holy God and exchanged our shame for boldness before the throne. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
That’s the hope we cling to when facing our sins.
He Transforms Your Desires
Jesus set us free from bondage to sin and seals us for heaven. Yet while we’re here on earth, we still wrestle with trials and temptations. Paul talks about this struggle using combative terminology: “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:22-23).
Rather than remaining discouraged by and stuck in sin, we can have confidence in the ongoing work of our Savior in conforming us to his likeness. As Christ united us with himself, we now share the same Spirit dwelling within us, who is transforming us by changing our desires and renewing our minds (Romans 12:2).
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With the Spirit helping us in our weakness, we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:10). By following the Spirit’s lead instead of our earthly desires, we can eagerly wait for complete restoration and bear his fruit as we do (Galatians 5:22-23).
If we allow the Word to convict us and humbly seek a clean heart, we can, like the young Hebrew believers, endure temptations because we know God is with us and for us. Even though we stumble along the way, he promises to keep us persevering in faith until we see him face to face in heaven.
He Frees You to Live
I don’t have to conquer sin by trying to control my stubborn heart. As I trust in God’s faithfulness to complete the work he began in me, I can discern the ways I’m falling for sin’s deception and ask his help to desire his will more than my own.
It will take a while, this sanctification process. Wish as I might, I can’t manage its schedule or predict the number of times I’ll trip and fail.
But by faith in Christ’s power made perfect in my weakness, I can turn away from sin, pursue holiness, and confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)—or, in a personal application, “What can I do to ruin myself?”
The sins I still battle don’t separate me from God. Jesus erased them, washed me clean, and invites me into fellowship with the Father. By his Spirit, I can choose to turn away from sin toward a closer walk with God, enjoying the freedom of redemption.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand.