Hope for Stubborn Sins

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No one enjoys feeling trapped. When you feel trapped, you feel suffocated, pressed in, like there’s no way to escape.

Many Christians live feeling like they are trapped in sin. While we experience the joy of Christ changing us through the power of the Spirit, there always seems to be certain sins from which each of us have trouble breaking free. No matter how many times we resolve and expend effort to break free, that sin grows in us again like grass sprouting through cracks in the pavement. Even when we experience a long period of victory, it feels like sin is just below the surface, waiting to pounce on us the moment we let down our guard.

God’s word has a sweet, refreshing, liberating, hope-infusing word for those who feel trapped in stubborn sins. In Colossians 2:11-12, Paul proclaims to us that, if we are in Christ, we are never trapped in sin. No matter how defeated or wrapped in a sin we may feel, its hold on us is never, ever stronger than the power that surges in us through our union with Christ.

Free from the Power of Sin

In Colossians 2:11-12, Paul tells us that by faith in Christ we are “circumcised with a circumcision without hands.” This imagery may seem foreign to us but it is steeped in Old Testament promises brimming with hope.

Though God’s people were in a physical covenant with God, marked by circumcision done with hands in the flesh, the people were constantly rebelling spiritually in their hearts. The picture is clear that, if left to themselves, all of humanity, even those who have experienced the work of God, would choose sin over the glory of God. Promises and markers made in the flesh cannot fix the problem that the heart of man is constantly in rebellion against God.

But God, in the mercy of His heart, responds with grace, making this promise in Deuteronomy 30: “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” God promises to do the work in the heart that cannot be done with human hands to fix the source of sin, changing our hearts from those that love sin to those that love God.

Paul says that God has done this “through the circumcision of Christ,” which means that God has provided for this work to be done by having Christ cut off on the cross for us. The power of God to break free from the clutches of sin does not reside in our willpower or our own ability to obey but is granted to us freely through what has already been done for us in Christ.

And Paul goes on to say that in addition to changing our hearts with power to love God more than sin through Christ’s death, God has given enabled us to walk in a new way of life by uniting us to the glory of Christ’s resurrection. God is at work within us to will and act according to His good purpose with the very power that He used to raise Christ from the dead.

Not I, But Christ in Me

So, dear brother or sister, the power you need to walk free from sin is always in you because it is based on what Jesus has already done. You, right now, as you sit here reading this, if your faith is in Christ, have a new heart to love God and resurrection power to fight sin. You may have failed, but your failure does not trump the power of God at work in you.

So confess your sin to God. Believe the gospel fresh and new, trust that you have the power within you to walk free from that stubborn sin, and then work out in your life what God has already worked out in your heart. You will not be finally defeated. Christ has already won and you will win over this sin when all is said and done. So fight in that faith with the freedom of the redeemed!

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