I once heard someone compare the believer’s struggle with sin to carrying a dead body around on your back – this body is your old self. It’s not really a part of you, but it’s there. Still trying to hang on. At first, you might feel like you can barely move around. It trips you up. You might get tangled. Your attention is constantly drawn to it. It drags you down. You feel like you can barely take one step forward under its weight. But over time, it gets a little easier. One day, you find that you can walk more freely. Then, you realize that you can jog. Finally, you notice that you hardly even think about it and you are running to win the race.
As believers, we will still continue to struggle with sin and temptation. We do what we don’t want to and what we want to do, we don’t. However, we are new creations in Christ.
Here are some things to remember during the times we find ourselves struggling with “sin which so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1):
First, remember that we no longer need to live under the constant shame of our sin. Yes, sin produces guilt, which leads to shame. But because Christ endured the shame of the cross and died the death of a criminal, our bondage to shame is broken. We are forgiven and we are free. Our identity is no longer in our sinfulness. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the source of our new identity.
Second, when we do mess up, God provides for us. I recently reread the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. When they eat the forbidden fruit, they realize their nakedness and are ashamed. To cover up their shame, they attempt to fashion clothes out of some leaves. God confronts them, and explains the consequences of their disobedience.
We all know what happens next - they are permanently banished from the Garden (Genesis 3). However, I had never noticed that before God throws them out of the Garden, he “made garments of skin for [them] and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). Even in their offense, even in the midst of punishment, God provides clothes for them. I can just see the scene - God, in His great love, patience, and compassion, seeing the make-shift, feeble-attempt-at-clothes of leaves that Adam and Eve are trying to use to cover themselves - God making clothes for them. Isn’t this beautiful? Even in our mess, even in our disobedience, God provides even better for us.
He doesn’t just provide clothes for us, he provides armor. Ephesians 6 : 14-17 says,
“Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in additional to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
With this armor, be proactive in battling sin. Don’t give up. We are more than conquerors. We have truth. We have righteousness. We have the gospel of peace. We have faith. We have salvation. We have the Spirit. We have the word of God. Embrace these. Cling to these. Wear these with boldness and then run with endurance.