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Hebrews 11:25 speaks of “the fleeting pleasures of sin.” We give in to temptation because the flesh likes it. Sin is pleasurable. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t do it. James 1:14 warns us that “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” The more we listen to the cries of our sinful flesh, the more likely we are to sin.
Welcome to the Point of Purity Podcast! I’m your host Steve Etner – author, National Speaker, Certified Professional Mentor TM and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry and this is Episode #164 . In this episode we continue our mini-series on Glorifying God as we discover how our thinking impacts our doing. This week’s Episode is simply entitled “Why, O Why Do I Sin?”
1 Peter 5:8-9 commands us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him and be strong in your faith.”
I remember being taught as a child the old adage, “What you feed, grows!” It’s much like scratching a mosquito bite. Think about it. When you have a mosquito bite, what is the driving need? If your response was “to scratch it” you’d be with the majority of people who give that answer ... but you’d also be quite wrong. Scratching it is not the need, it’s the deceptive desire. The actual need is to have the itch go away. However, the itch deceives us into believing that scratching it will make it better. The fact is: the more you scratch, the more it itches. The more it itches the more you scratch.
With every choice to scratch you bring about further consequences. The more you scratch, the more irritated the bite becomes. Eventually it will turn into an open, festering wound. And yet, even then it still itches. It still demands more and more of your attention. Now when you choose to scratch, along with fulfilling the itch you also experience a significant consequence known as pain.
Now think about this principle as it relates to the temptation to sin. Every time you choose to give in to your sinful temptation (to “scratch the itch”), the more your flesh longs for that forbidden pleasure and the larger the sin-issue becomes. Giving in to the temptation feels good – the “itch” goes away, temporarily. However, it will come back with a vengeance - guaranteed. The solution to meeting the real need is the same as with the mosquito bite. Don’t scratch it! “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NLT)
I’m going to ask you a very pointed question. In fact, I’m asking you to find a scrap piece of paper right now; then grab a pen (or pencil) and write your answer on that paper. This is because there will be great value in writing your answer down, as you will soon see. Are you ready? OK. Here is my question: What sin(s) do you tend to battle against daily? What is the “weight, (the) sin which clings so closely” to you? (Hebrews 12:1b) Go ahead and write it down.
Now, to be honest, if you’re like most people, you probably put your pen down while thinking “I’m not going to write those things down for the rest of the world to see! I know what those sins are so why should I embarrass myself by writing them down?” Pick the pen back up my friend and write down the sin(s) you tend to battle against daily. Be honest because we need that list to stare us in the face. We need to take a moment here and now to literally, physically see on paper the names of the sins we tend to struggle with.
Now that you’ve bit the bullet and courageously wrote down your besetting sin(s) I want you to look at that list. Are you looking at it? In each sin-issue you identified, your mind plays an integral role in whether you will experience victory or defeat each and every time you are tempted. This is why God says we are to “be transformed by the renewal of (our) mind” (Romans 12:2), and why we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).
In Romans 7:14-25 the Apostle Paul writes these familiar words – listen closely ...
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my (flesh). I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (NLT)
When I first began studying this particular text, I found that with all the different references to “I” in the text things got to be a bit confusing. So, to help us understand it better we are going to invest some time considering what Paul is actually saying. In verse 15 he says “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Can you relate? All too often we struggle with doing the things we don’t want to do while we don’t do the things we want do. This can be very frustrating, to say the least.
To get a grasp of what Paul is talking about here in Romans 7 I want us to do a comparison between what you were like BEFORE salvation, and what you are like now as a born-again believer. First, notice that the unsaved individual lives in a sinful, fleshly body. Scripture tells us we all are born sinners. Romans 3:10 declares that “there is none righteous, not even one.” (NASB’95) Romans 3:23 says, “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (NLT) The fact is, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
The second thing I want us to note is that the unsaved have an “old nature” residing within them. This is the description of every human being ever born. Our old sinful nature has a natural bent toward sin. That’s why James writes, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15 NLT)
The Apostle Paul tells us that this old nature has no desire for or devotion to God in any way, shape, or form because it is totally and utterly dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). The old nature is focused entirely on one thing: fulfilling and gratifying the sinful cravings of the flesh. Anything the flesh wants; the old nature is willing to provide simply because it’s driven by the primal mindset that says “I want. I need. I desire. I deserve. I have to have. I can’t live without!”
For the unsaved, the bulk of their thoughts are focused on indulging the sinful, King Me, self-centered desires of the flesh. “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2:3 NASB’95) Never forget that what you think becomes what you do. Since the mindset of the unsaved has nothing holy and godly to direct its thinking, it focuses solely on fulfilling the desires and pleasures of sin.
Are you ready for some good news? When you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, something interesting happened. Look carefully at what Paul says in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (NASB’95)
At the moment of salvation, you were instantly identified with Christ’s death on the cross. Romans 6:5 says, “if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (NASB’95) In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I no longer live.” Here he goes with the multiple “I’s” again. Who no longer lives? Paul? Is he referring to his physical life? Obviously not since he’s very much alive when writing this verse. So then, who or what was crucified? It’s important that we properly identify the “I” in this verse, as that will help us better understand Romans 7:14-25.
To identify the “I,” think about the word “crucified.” To be crucified meant to be put to death. The person who was crucified no longer had life. He was dead. The word “dead” means gone, never to be resuscitated, no life within. Paul says, “I have been crucified” – past tense. I have been put to death. The “I” Paul refers to here is the old nature. If you are a born-again Christian, the old nature that was focused on sin and self was crucified (put to death) with Christ.
It is important to understand that when you put your faith in Christ, something very significant happened to your old nature. It’s not hiding somewhere just waiting for the opportune time to raise its ugly head and pounce on you. Satan wants to deceive you into believing that you need to live in constant fear of that nasty old nature.
I don’t care what the movie industry tries to tell us, there are no ghosts, there will be no zombie apocalypse. The dead cannot come back to life. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the old, sinful nature that routinely led you into sinful behavior is dead. It’s gone. It can never come back to life – ever! As a Christian you no longer have an old sinful nature. It died the day you were saved. Dead, gone, never to come back again.
Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Focus your attention on the words “the old has gone.” The old what has gone? The word “old” in this verse refers to that which was from the beginning, that which you had since the day you were born. It is referring to that old sinful nature you used to have before Christ saved you. Here is something exciting about the word “old”, it refers not to chronological age but to that which is completely worn out and useless. That old, worn out, useless sinful nature is gone, and a new holy nature has taken its place. Furthermore, that word “gone” literally means passed away, ceased to exist, no longer alive. If you are a Christian, your old nature is not here, nor will it ever come back. It is crucified, dead, gone.
Paul goes on to say in Galatians 2:20 that “the life I live in the body, I live by faith.” Who is the “I” he is referring to now? We know it cannot be the old nature because, as we have established, the old nature is dead and gone; it cannot come back to life. The “I” that Paul is referring to is the new nature that Christ has given us. “But, Steve ... I still sin,” you argue. Yes, you do. I do too. We all do. Let’s take a look at why.
Let me remind you of Paul’s declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” That word “new” doesn’t mean refurbished. God didn’t take your old nature and give it a major overhaul. If He did, there would still be remnants of that old nature within you. No, He crucified the old sinful nature and put a brand new holy nature within you.
The word “new” in this verse carries with it the idea that it is of a totally different kind – not like the previous one at all. The old has gone and the new is here. Isn’t that exciting! Paul also writes that the new self is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). God is holy. So is your new nature.
If you have placed your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for your salvation, the Almighty, Holy, Sovereign Creator of the Universe, God Himself has personally come to live inside of you. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) Jesus clearly states in John 14:17, and then Paul reiterates that God (in the person of the Holy Spirit) dwells in every believer. And John declares that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (1 John 4:15).
In order for God to dwell within us, He had to remove the old sinful nature and put a new nature in its place. A nature that is incapable of sinning. If your nature could still sin, then the Holy God could not live there. Psalm 5:4 says, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.” Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that God is “pure and cannot stand the sight of evil” (NLT). So, God created a completely different, holy nature and placed it within you so that He could come in and set up residence there.
Before you ever chose to accept and receive the gift of eternal life that only Jesus Christ can give (see Romans 6:23; John 3:16, 36; 17:3), your body and spirit were dead in your sin (see Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 4:18). Whereas the unsaved still have the old sinful nature, the born-again child of God does not. Scripture is clear that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NIV’84 cf. Acts 16:31; 1 John 4:2-3)
It is crucial here that we not lose sight of the fact that the born-again believer still has a sinful body. Even though you are born-again and have a new, holy nature within, you still reside in a sinful body. Paul says that “if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10) In Romans 7:18 Paul says, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” The word Paul uses for “sinful nature” is the Greek word “sarx,” which is literally translated “flesh” and refers to our fleshly body in all of its humanness. So, what Paul is saying in Romans 7:18 is that nothing good lives in his flesh – his body (his humanness) – because it is inherently sinful.
Oh, but wait my friend ... I’ve got some great news for you! Someday soon every born-again Christian will possess a resurrected, glorious body (see Romans 8:23; Philippians 3:21). Until then your current body is just a lowly, sinful tent you are temporarily dwelling in. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT)
Paul writes, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6) I love the fact that Paul uses the word “palaios” here for “old.” This word refers to that which is completely worn out and useless, meant for the scrap heap. What an apt description of the old sinful nature. Once again, we see the Biblical declaration that for the Christian the old, worn out, useless sinful nature is dead and gone, never to come back. Paul says, “our old self was crucified.” The word “was” is a very important word in this verse. It is past tense. In other words, the old nature has already been put to death.
Paul also declares that the old self was crucified with Jesus so that “the body ruled by sin” might be done away with. It’s important that we understand the “body” Paul refers to here is not our physical body. It is a word that indicates a collective group of something. For example, a “student body” is a collective group of students. The King James Version calls it the ‘body of sin” and refers to the whole of sin. In other words, all of sin that has ruled over you is now done away with.
Simply put, Paul is talking about the influence that sin had (past tense) over you. What has happened to that sinful influence? It has been “done away with.” God has caused it to cease to have ultimate authority over you. With your old nature dead, sin no longer has authoritative power over you. It can still tempt you; it can still raise its ugly head and roar at you, but because it is “done away with” it no longer has the power to make you sin. Jump up and down and shout my friend. Praise the Lord! Because the power of your old sinful nature is dead and gone, you don’t have to sin anymore.
OK. Let’s hit the pause button until next week’s episode as we continue our miniseries on How to Glorify God. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about The Pure Man Ministry, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you – you can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com.
One of those resources I would like to highlight for you here is my book entitled “Purely Satisfied: Discover how to live in genuine purity” available right now on Amazon. I have a question for you: When you find yourself sexually “thirsty” – feeling like you’re going to shrivel up and die if your “need” isn’t met, what do you do? Where do you go to find satisfaction? All too often we turn to King Me for the solution. Understand this: Yes, you are “thirsty,” BUT you are not thirsting for sexual fulfillment. You are not thirsting for physical satisfaction. You are not thirsting for a chemical pop or rush that those sexual hormones are providing you. That’s Satan misdirecting you, trying to get your focus off of what your real thirst is for.
Your thirst is for something different, something deeper. Here’s what I mean ... Your soul is searching for something only God can give. This is why lust, porn, and masturbation will ALWAYS fail to genuinely satisfy. This is why you keep going back for more, never having that thirst quenched.
My new book “Purely Satisfied” makes it clear that you need to catch God’s vision and plan for your life, and the only way that’s going to happen is when you daily choose to dethrone me and allow God to be King in every aspect of your life. We need to daily develop an intimate relationship with Jesus. This book - “Purely Satisfied” - will help you discover not only how to BE pure, but how to STAY pure.
If you have not yet subscribed to this Point of Purity Podcast, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, Certified Professional Mentor TM and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.
Please understand that your involvement in this program does not provide any guarantee on the part of Steve Etner, The Purity Coach or The Pure Man Ministry. In other words, we are coming alongside of you for the purpose of coaching you toward accountability and purity. I am not a professional counselor and I cannot guarantee you specified results. I am, however, a man who has been where you are and has seen God work in my life in a mighty way. This program is what changed me. And God has used this program to impact the hearts of countless men across the globe!
I'm here to encourage you, to challenge you, to pray with you, and to share with you what God has taught me. I look forward to coming alongside of you in this journey!