How Do You Kill Sin?

Category: Questions & Answers

Christians must not be passive in putting sin to death; they must be proactive. We must never take an attitude of defeat. The Bible calls us to long-term mortification of sin. And at the center of our mortification must be the gospel of Jesus Christ; otherwise it’s just another form of moralism.

Speakers: Jesse Barrington, Nate Pickowicz, Don Currin, Mack Tomlinson


This is a great one. How do you kill sin specifically?

Do you guys have "Mortification of Sin" here in the bookstore? OK. John Owen wrote an 86 page book called "On the Mortification of Sin in Believers" Read that. The language is difficult. There is a modernized version of that that's very good. All that book is is an exposition on Romans 8:12-13. If you don't want to wade through that, I would commend to you, John Piper preached on Romans 8:12-13. He did three sermons on how to kill sin. I've listened to those three sermons probably twenty times. Those are wonderful resources for you. But, in John Owen's book - and I believe this is what the Scripture teaches, there's an essence of strangling out sin. So we're never going to be sinless in this life, it's not going to happen. However, we can put them to death. And Tozer talked about how killing sin or doing this is like ripping teeth out of your jaw. It has to come out by blood and agony. That's how he described it. So this is going to be difficult work. But what you're doing is you're targeting, in a practical way, targeting things and behaviors and places you go, things you do, that you know lead you to sin. And if you're in the sin itself, it's very hard to get out of it in the moment, so you have to pray that God would not lead you to temptation. So in your areas of temptation, you want to be attacking those specific things. In Proverbs, we talk about how the young man would foolishly walk by the house of the woman who was enticing him. He could go the other way, but he foolishly goes the way that he's not supposed to go. There's nothing inherently sinful about walking down the street, but it's leading him to temptation. So, do personal heart work of examining the areas of your life that you know you stumble, that you know you sin, and address those specifically. Know what they are. The enemy knows what they are. You need to know what they are as well. And then, it's a process of strangling the life out of those things. And trying to oppress those desires and pray against them and radically change your life. If your problem is on the Internet, unplug your computer. Throw away your t.v. Do whatever you have to do. It's better to enter life without your hands and your feet and your eyes, than to go to hell and burn. So, this is a radical thing. To kill sin is a radical thing. But every Christian must do it. So John Owen's work is fantastic. John Piper's sermons are fantastic. But they start from Romans 8:12-13 and work from there. It sounds like legalism to do what he just said, but that's exactly what Jesus meant when He said that if your eye offends you, pluck it out. Stop looking at the things you're looking at. If your hand offends you, cut it off. Stop doing the things you're doing if it's sinful. If your foot offends you, cut it off. One time, a young man came to Paul Washer. He said I just keep struggling with these things so much, and I'm defeated. And Paul said one thing to him: Stop it. Young man, stop it! That was the whole counsel. Well, Christians are passive in our mortification. And the Bible calls us to be radically, militantly proactive to kill it. I would amen everything they said and maybe add to that, that Christianity is not just putting off. Often, in our fight against sin, we are thinking of the "don't's." Can't do that. Don't do this. And we have to realize that Christianity is also a putting on. There's a book I read - our men studied it - it's called "Delivered..." it has the word "from" crossed out and says, "by." So it's "Delivered From Desire, By Desire." And it's specifically talking about the fight against lust and sexual temptation. But the truths in it apply to really any sin. And one of the keys that we have to understand, and most Christians really don't understand this. You have to understand who you really are. And you understand that by understanding what Christ accomplished. So many people live a life who are genuine Christians, but they still believe they're in some way enslaved to sin. And because of unbelief, they live in slavery. If I could read one verse on that. Romans 6 Paul goes through many truths or indicatives about what Christ has accomplished and who we are in our union to Him. And I think the whole key to Romans 6 is found here in verse 11. He says, "So you also (the new Christian) must consider or reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." And many people that I talk with in the church or at conferences don't really understand that they are dead to sin and alive to Christ. And then he says you must reckon that, believe that, and then from there, he goes into not offering your members unto the sin, but unto righteousness. So there's a great theological understanding here that's accompanying this radical, militant fighting, that if you don't know who you are, then you'll walk in there thinking well, I'm just the same old person trying to overcome this sin. And you're defeated from the beginning because you're not. You're a new creation. You've been delivered from not only the penalty but the power of sin, and you must reckon yourselves as that new creation and then live in light of who you are now in Christ, by putting off and putting on. A couple of final quick thoughts on that. I remember Bob Jennings preached a sermon on this subject. And he illustrated by some of David's enemies, some of Israel's enemies, sending, I think, some warning. David was conquering enemies, and he was warned, you're not going to come here and take this area. And then Scripture says, nevertheless, David took the city. And Bob just pointed out how no matter how much our flesh, or the enemy or besetting sins say to our minds and hearts, I'm never going to conquer this. I've been battling this for years. I'm just going to be defeated by it. We can never take that attitude. Some areas may take a long time to kill sin. Others you conquer more quickly. But the Bible calls us to long term radical mortification of sin. To keep battling it, keep resisting. If we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. We apply the Gospel. And then we go again. Two other resources: The book mentioned yesterday: "Holiness" by J.C. Ryle deals with this subject in measure in a wonderful way. And then secondly, Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermons on Romans 6 are very, very helpful in his series in Romans. Just one more thing if I could piggy back on all these guys. It's not one-size-fits-all. It's not one biblical method works for everyone across the board. But here I will encourage you. The ultimate killing weapon of sin is the Gospel. It's the Gospel You see, all these things of not making provision for the flesh, hiding God's Word in your heart that you might not sin against God. We could go down a long list of different things on how to conquer sin, but I'll tell you friend, if the Gospel is not at the center, all these things are reduced to another form of moralism. And it will not sustain. So, it's relishing in the Gospel. It's being acted upon by the Holy Spirit because you take the time to meditate on God. For example, you remember Mark 10? The disciples are caught up in a disposition of selfish ambition. And Christ says this is not the way that we are to operate in our Kingdom. We're not to emulate the example of the Gentiles. And then He says this: For, (transitioning now), the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, (and here's the Gospel), to give His life a ransom for many." There's a strength, there's a power, there's a grace in the Gospel for affording us sustained mortification. And by the way, with that said, even heaven - focusing on heaven - according to Colossians 3, "setting your affection on things above, not on things of the earth." Notice what he says in verse 5. "Therefore, mortify your members upon the earth." So even contemplation of heaven gives us an incentive. But the ultimate killing weapon of God against sin is the Gospel. From yesterday on meditation again, meditation is so key in the fight against sin and the killing of sin. To quote this book that I read, they mention in there that when you meditate consistently and daily, the truths of the Gospel and the treasuring of Jesus Christ is at the forefront of the mind. Not back here like, yeah I heard that one time long ago, but it's at the forefront of the mind, so that when temptation comes, you have the glories of Jesus Christ at the forefront of your mind. And it kind of gave the analogy of a battle scene. If you have all your troops and your tanks and your armor two miles back, but not at the forefront of the battle, you may be stronger because you have more, but you lose that battle because everything's at the back. And what meditation does, it brings it all to the forefront of the mind. You begin to see that sin is just a fleeting pleasure, and that Christ is greater. He's the greater Treasure, so it's not just "no" to this fleeting pleasure, it's a "yes" to the greater Treasure of Jesus Christ. What Don said about the Gospel being the real key to killing sin, think about this: Whenever you sin, how do you feel? Guilt? Disappointment? Condemnation? What other words would you add? Alright, then when you sin, what is your response? Where does your mind go? And what do you do? You beat yourself up. You draw away from Christ instead of near Him. I'm so unworthy, etc. In other words, you turn your eyes in on yourself. You're thinking about yourself. And then you're creating an opportunity for the enemy to have a heyday. He then comes in. We have a choice when we sin. One of two paths. When you sin, Christ paid for that sin 2,000 years ago. You run to the Gospel. You go to the Lord, and you tell Him, Father, I've sinned. Psalm 51 was written after David sinned from a repentant heart. And all through there it talks about joy and restoration and renewal. And so, we must learn, the way to apply the Gospel when you sin is don't look at yourself. The Father loves you the same as He did before. Look to the cross. Look to the Gospel. Make a bee line there. And say, Father, I have sinned. But I thank You that my Savior paid for this sin. And it's forgiven. And I'm coming to receive that forgiveness. Do we actually think that our wallowing in self-pity, self-condemnation, beating ourselves up, trying to work up somehow being better right then, so more seriousness, more tears, work up brokenness... do we think that's going to earn something before God? No. Apply the Gospel right when you sin. Look away from yourself. Say to yourself, Father, I'm so thankful, as Psalm 32 says, blessed is the one unto whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. He doesn't put your sins to your account. They were put on Christ. So you appropriate the forgiveness that was paid for at the cross. That's how you apply the Gospel to killing sin.