The Struggle Against Sin

The following article is an excerpt from "A Book of Bible Study"

by Joseph F. Harwood.


To download the book in PDF format, visit our home page at


As believers in Christ, we will all struggle against sin throughout the time of our lives here on earth.  Sin is disobedience to God’s commands as they are set forth in the Holy Bible, which is God’s word.


In Romans 6, we learn that when we were called to faith in Christ, a transformation occurred in our lives. Paul taught that when we were still unbelievers, we were slaves to sin, but when we came to believe in Christ we became slaves of God and His righteousness.


In other words, the believer is not enslaved to sin and powerless to be freed from it as unbelievers are. As slaves of God we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:22), and by God’s grace and power we have been given the means to rid ourselves of it. Paul also wrote in this same passage: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14).


Even though we are no longer slaves of sin, we can see from the Scriptures that many times we will find ourselves struggling against sin. Paul taught about the ongoing struggle against sin that every believer will experience as he revealed his own struggle in Romans 7:7-25.


James gave us this exhortation concerning our ongoing struggle against sin: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7-10, emphasis added). Teaching along these same lines, the Apostle Peter wrote: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9, emphasis added). 


Though God does allow both believers and unbelievers to be tempted, He Himself tempts no one. James made this clear when he wrote: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15).


Within these verses James taught that lust, or unlawful desire, when acted upon gives birth to sin, and sin results in death when it has run its’ course. The end result of sin is death: eternal death and separation from God for the unbeliever, and according to 1 John 5:16-17, sin could even result in physical death for the believer. Paul also taught that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).


There are many Scriptures that speak of the painful and damaging consequences of sin. But we also see from the Scriptures that God has given every believer the power to overcome the temptation to sin that we will experience in this world. John encouraged us when he wrote: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4).


In another teaching from Romans, speaking of the saints of God, Paul wrote: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). It is God’s will that every believer is to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ, who led a life separated from sin. Therefore when we do sin, God sends His disciplines into our lives in order to separate us from our sins. God’s discipline in our lives is itself a sign that we belong to Him.


The writer of Hebrews quoted a passage from Proverbs 3:11-12 when he wrote:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him,
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)


Sin always brings God’s rod of correction into the lives of His people. On those occasions when we know that we are experiencing the consequences of our own sin, let us confess our sin before God, repent of it and forsake it, being fully determined to root it out of our lives.


God’s promise of forgiveness is ours as believers, but we must understand that He will not allow sin to persist in the lives of His people. He will surely separate us from our sin, and we will not like the means that He uses to do so.


The writer of Hebrews instructed us again when he wrote: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). While God may allow sin to continue for some time in the lives of unbelievers with no apparent consequences to themselves, He will not allow it in the lives of His people. Sin in the life of a believer always brings about God’s discipline, which serves to restore us to obedience. 


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