Combating "Crouching Sins"

By Ryan Dawson

How do we combat sin so that we can be transformed in both character and conduct?  In the first few pages of Genesis, we read an interesting account where God uses a powerful image to describe sin.  God says to Cain:  “If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.”  Genesis 4:7 (Amplified Bible)

We can infer from this text that sin is like a hungry predator looking to pounce on us and devour us, but God has given us a means to overcome sin in our lives, so that we can experience the human flourishing He desires for us.  But you are probably thinking, “easier said than done Ryan, how do I actually overcome sin in my life?”  Maybe you struggle with an issue of bitterness or resentment, an addiction issue or some destructive habit, fear & worry, or an attitude or action that goes against God’s principles.  All of us struggle with sin & selfishness, and this leads to brokenness.  How do we combat sin so that we are transformed more into the image of Jesus and experience the abundant life He came to give us?

We combat sin with the sufficiency of Christ.  At the root of every sin is unbelief.  There is something about the goodness of God and the sufficiency of Christ that we do not believe.  We are looking for life in places other than Jesus, so we have “functional Saviours” like food, porn, money and possessions, substances, image, success, comfort, and relationships, that we set up as “ultimates” in our lives.  We go to these things because in some way we feel they will give us the life we want.  But Jesus is the Life we really want and the life we really need, but we have either forgotten this or we simply don’t believe it.  Or we feel in some way that God is holding out on us so we choose our own way over God’s way.  

Every sin begins with a refusal to believe God’s Word to us.  Often we don't believe God that we are saved by grace, so we think we need to earn God's favour in some way.  Often, we don’t believe God when He says we need to forgive as He has forgiven us.  We don’t believe that God has a plan for sex, and it is reserved for the life-long covenant of marriage between a husband and a wife.   We don’t believe that God is serious when He says we need to care for the widow and the orphan.  Or we don’t believe God’s promise to provide for us, so we refuse to trust Him by giving generously to the vision and mission of the Church.  Often we shrink back in fear and fail to share the Good News with friends and loved ones, because we fail to believe that God is present with us in these moments.  The root of all sin is always unbelief, but it simply manifests in various behaviors.  Until we get to the root of the sin we will continue with the behavior, and the predator will keep pouncing.  Tim Keller calls this, finding the sin under the sin.  We need to understand the root of the sin, name it, and then when we are feeling tempted to pursue this sin, we claim the sufficiency of Christ over us.  We speak God's promises over our lives, we preach the Gospel to ourselves.  

For instance when I am struggling with the fear of lack, which is really an unbelief in the goodness of God, which makes me want to withhold from giving, which leads to greed, I must remember and put my trust in the sufficiency of Christ and His promises to me:  “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19.  

When I am tempted to think my success determines my worth, which is an unbelief in the work of Jesus to make me into “the beloved son on whom God’s favour rests” apart from my work, I need to combat this sin with the sufficiency of Christ:  “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  Ephesians 2:9-10

When you are battling with “crouching sins” find a corresponding promise in the sufficiency of Jesus that combats the sin and put your trust in this powerful truth.  But here is the really cool thing.  We don’t do this alone.  We do this in community with other believers who are believing the Gospel and who will point us to the grace of God and the sufficiency of Christ.  

We combat sin with Christ-centred community.  James tells us plainly “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16   I admit this can be a little scary but there is tremendous power to break the bondage of sin in Christ-centred community.  This is one reason why our Impact Communities are so important for us as a church.  We just can’t grow into Christ-like maturity without true Gospel community.  When we point one another to the sufficiency of Christ, and we speak the Gospel of grace and hope to one another it brings true life.  Are you connected to Christ-centred community?   Are you going deeper with your Impact Community, confessing sin to one another, and holding out the Gospel of grace to each other?   As we trust in the sufficiency of Jesus together, we will overcome sin, and live victorious lives for God’s glory, that will be a powerful witness to the world.  

Blessings, Ryan

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