Don’t play with rattlesnakes

Most of us are smart enough not to have rattlesnakes as pets.  There are a lot of reasons, but the main one is that they can kill you.  Not rocket science, I know, but how many of us actually play around with the very thing that brings real and final spiritual death to us: our own sin.

A friend of mine, Will Plitt, who leads a local church as well as a church planting network, sent this to me and some other pastors yesterday.  It’s from John Piper on how we need to put to death our sin.  I was moved to action by it, and I hope you are too.

Many of the Christians that occupy our churches spend more time trying to manage sin rather than putting sin to death. The gospel changes our relationship to sin: It frees us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin in this life, and one day the presence of sin in heaven.

Relief: All true believers have sin remaining in them in this life. Romans 7:23 – “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.”

Therefore we are commanded to constantly kill this sin (Romans 8:13Colossians 3:5).

How Is This to Be Done?

1) Take heart from the truth that the old sinful you is decisively already dead (Romans 6:6Colossians 3:3Galatians 5:24). This means three things:

  1. the mortal blow to our “old man” has been struck;
  2. he will not succeed in domination now;
  3. his final obliteration is certain.

2) Consciously reckon the old man dead; that is, believe the truth of Scripture about the old man’s death, and seek to live in that freedom (Romans 6:11).

3) Cultivate enmity with sin! You don’t kill friends (Romans 8:13). Ponder how it killed your best friend, dishonors your Father, and aims to destroy you for ever.

4) Rebel against sin’s coup. Refuse to be bullied by his deceits and manipulations (Romans 6:12). Fight your sinful impulses with all your might like a boxer fights an opponent and like a marathon runner fights fatigue (1 Corinthians 9:272 Timothy 4:8).

5) Declare radical allegiance to the other side—God—and consciously put all your mind and heart and body at his disposal for righteousness and purity (Romans 6:13).

6) Don’t make any plans that open the door for sin’s entry (Romans 13:14). Don’t prove your purity in a pornography shop.

7) Develop mental habits that continually renew the mind in God-centeredness (Romans 12:22 Corinthians 4:16). Fix attention daily on “the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5), “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2), “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

8) Admit failure and confess all known sin every day (1 John 1:9). Ask for forgiveness (Matthew 6:12).

9) Ask for the Spirit’s help and power in all these things (Romans 8:13Galatians 5:1722Ezekiel 36:27Isaiah 26:12).

10) Be part of a larger and smaller fellowship where you are exhorted often to beware of the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

11) Beware of “works of law”; but let all your warfare be “the work of faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11). That is, let your fight against sin spring from your confidence in the superior pleasures of closeness to Christ.

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