What’s the Bible’s take immediate deliverance from a particular struggle with sin? Answered by Patrick Crandall
Hi everyone, this is Patrick, and today on ask Theocast, we’re going to be talking about silver bullet victory over sin. You guys have probably heard the stories of somebody who prays a certain way, reads something, fasts, and suddenly, almost magically, experiences victory over sin or a struggle that they’ve been entrenched in for a long time. Bryan wants to know, how should we think biblically about such things?
The first thing we want to say is that we need to acknowledge that God is completely sovereign over sin, over our hearts, and ultimately over our sanctification, and he is not limited in any way as to how he works in that. So these things working in that way are not beyond him at all. In fact, one day, when we are glorified, when we are present with the Lord, he is going to perfect us and do away with everything in us that’s corrupted by sin in any way. So that is all going to be an ultimate reality in every aspect of our lives one day, but that said, we need to acknowledge the fact that this is not the norm of the Christian’s life here.
In fact, the norm of the Christian’s life here is struggle. I think there’s a few passages of scripture we can go to. We can’t go to all of them today, but just a few to give us kind of a sampling. One would be Jesus talking to his disciples before he goes to the cross and he tells them, “In this world, you’re going to have trouble.” They don’t need to fear because he has overcome the world, but they’re going to have trouble here. I also think of First John one, eight, where John says that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. So, John doesn’t even see any kind of sinlessness as comporting with the truth at all, and I think perhaps most helpfully would be Paul’s experience that we read about in Romans seven, where we read about this incredible struggle that Paul goes through, where he looks at his life and he sees himself doing things that he doesn’t want to do and not doing things that he wants to do. Ultimately, when he sees that struggle and he feels that tension, he declares, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin and death?” So when we look at these passages and we can look at many others, it seems that the norm of the Christian life is not this kind of floating above the struggle of life and seeing instantaneous victory and everything, but rather, the Christian life here is in fact a struggle. It’s this battle that is raging within us as the spirit and the flesh are both present, and so it’s really important that we understand what to expect of life here as Christians, because if that kind of silver bullet victorious life becomes what we think is the norm, there’s really significant consequences as we go through life. Perhaps the biggest and most devastating is what it does to our assurance.
If the Christian’s experience is this kind of magic, instantaneous victory on the norm, on the regular – that’s what we should expect to see and to have – what does it mean for you when you don’t have that victory in a particular area or when you don’t have enough of it? Well, then, the logic is, if Christians experience this and I’m not experiencing that, what does that say about my faith at all? Am I even a Christian?
This kind of expectation of life points us to look at our victory over sin for our assurance and it poses a question that we can never answer: how much victory is enough victory so that you can have peace, so you can have rest, and so that you can have assurance? There’s no positive way to answer that question. There’s no way to come up with an answer that you can hold onto and have any peace. The only line we have for obedience in scripture is perfection and we’re never going to see that when we look to our own lives. So what we need to do is we need to see the Christian life the way scripture paints it out, as the struggle, as this battle, and we need to look for our assurance and our peace, not in our own performance, not in our own victory over sin, but in Christ.
As Paul in Romans eight, one comes to as he makes that declaration of the wretchedness that he feels in this struggle and seeing his own sin, where does he look? He doesn’t look to his own victory. He doesn’t look to his own progress. He looks to Christ. In Romans eight, one, we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I hope this has been helpful for you guys. Have a great week.