If you are born again and are defeated by sin almost daily then it possible that you have not sinned enough yet. One reason you are sinning is you still think that there is some good in you or if you just pray and resist harder you will overcome. God wants to use your sin to teach you once and for all that you are truly rotten to the core, He wants you to see that you totally incurable without any possibility of improvement.
When a Christian sins he feels ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and condemned. He may experience joy when he finds the forgiveness of God but, this joy does not last long. Many believers find themselves stumbling over and over again in certain sins. Now their previous joy once more is gone. Then they find themselves committing the same sin they just committed before. Sin seems to have power over them and It seems so natural for them to keep sinning. It is as if a power from within has overpowered them in an instant; they are led uncontrollably to speak the wrong words and do the wrong things. Under such a condition, the believers invariably want to do better. They invariably make many vows and resolutions before the Lord. They set up for themselves many ordinances to bind themselves, in the hope that they will not commit the same error again. At the same time, they ask for the cleansing of the Lord's blood afresh and seek for another filling of the Holy Spirit by the Lord. After this, they seem satisfied and think that their last sin is behind them, that from now on they are on their way to holiness. However, the fact always turns out contrary to their wish. Soon, perhaps a few days later, they fail again! Once more they fall into deep remorse, bemoaning their own failure and feeling sorrowful at heart; their hopes for holiness have been dashed. All their resolutions and regulations cannot help them. Although they may receive the Lord's forgiveness after this, it becomes difficult for them to believe that they can keep themselves from sinning again. Although they still pray that the Lord would keep them, their heart is full of doubts. They begin to wonder if the Lord can really keep them from sin.
All our failures are caused by the tenaciousness of the sinful nature; we sink to such a low condition because of it. Hence, whether or not we will overcome depends on whether or not we are able to deal with this sinful nature, which is the flesh. Thank God that though we are helpless, He has the way. He has prepared a way for us on the cross. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, not only did He die for us, but He crucified our flesh with Him on the cross. Hence, all those who belong to Christ Jesus and are regenerated have their flesh crucified. When He died on the cross, our flesh was crucified there as well. Both the substitutional death and the identifying death have been accomplished by the Lord Jesus. Both are fully accomplished. Formerly, we believed in His substitutional death and were regenerated. Now, in the same way, we believe that our flesh is crucified with Him, and we are brought into the experience of the death of the flesh.
Many Christians try to overcome sin. Some think that if they try hard enough to renounce sin, they will eventually be free from sin. As a result, they try their best to reject the temptations of sin. Some realize that sin should be overcome, and they continually wrestle with sin in the hope of overcoming it. Others think that sin has made them a captive and that they must strive hard to free themselves from its bondage. However, all these are man's thoughts; they are not God's word or teaching. None of these methods lead to victory. God's Word does not tell us to struggle with sin by our own efforts. It says that we should be delivered from sin, that is, be released or freed from sin. Sin is a power which enslaves man. The way to deal with this power is not by destroying it ourselves but by allowing the Lord to free us from it. We have sin, and there is no way to separate ourselves from it. The Lord's way is not to vanquish sin. He is saving us from sin's power by moving us away from it. New believers should know from the start the right way to be delivered from sin. There is no need to travel a long and tortuous path to find deliverance from sin. We can take the way of freedom as soon as we believe.
New believers should accept what the Word of God says. If you have to wait to find out for yourself, you may have to commit many sins. Even after sinning repeatedly, your eyes still may not be opened. You will have to come to the point where you see that all your battles are futile. Paul said in Romans 7 that it is useless to battle, for who can overcome a law? Thus, at the start of Romans 8 he says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death" (vv. l-2). You have seen that sin is a law. You have also seen that it is not possible for man's will to overcome that law. Where, then, is the way of victory, the way of deliverance?
The way of victory is here: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." The word "condemnation" in the original Greek has two different usages, one legal and the other civil. If the word is used legally, it means "condemnation" as found in the English translation. But in its civil usage, the word means "disabling" or "handicap." According to the context of this passage of Scripture, probably the civil usage is clearer.
We are no longer disabled. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has given us deliverance. It is something the Lord has done. But how does He do it? It is very simple, for it is explained by the second verse: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." This is the way of victory. Can you alter Romans 8:2 and read it this way: "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from sin and death"? I suppose ten Christians out of ten would read the verse this way. But what does it say? It says that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." Many have seen only the Spirit of life setting them free from sin and death, but have failed to see that it is the law of the Spirit of life which sets them free from the law of sin and of death.
To learn the lesson that sin and death is a law may take years. But even as it may take a great deal of time and resolution and failure to realize that sin is a law, so it may take years for many believers to discover that the Spirit of life is also a law. Sin has followed us for years and we have had a close association with it; yet we still do not know that it is a law. Likewise, we may have believed in the Lord for many, many years and have known the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet not known Him as a law.
It is a day of great discovery when our eyes are opened by the Lord to see that sin is a law. It is a day of even greater discovery when we are given the revelation that the Holy Spirit is also a law. Only a law can overcome another law. The will cannot overcome the law, but a higher law can overcome a lower law. We can never overcome the law of sin by our human will, but the law of the Spirit of life can set us free from the law of sin and of death.
We know that earth's gravity is a law which holds us. We know too that there is a thing called density. If the density of a thing is exceedingly low, such as in the case of hydrogen, then earth's gravitational force cannot hold it down. By pumping hydrogen into a balloon, we can make the balloon rise. The law of earth's gravitational force is a fixed law, but it only operates within a certain range or degree of density. If the density is too low, the law of gravity does not apply. Then another law takes over, even the law of buoyancy, which sends things upward. This upward surge needs no hand to push, no fan to stir. You just let go, and up it ascends. This law overcomes the other law. It is equally effortless. In a similar manner, the law of the Holy Spirit overcomes the law of sin.
Let us say it another way. To see sin as a law is a big thing, for it makes you decide against battling sin with your willpower. Likewise, seeing the law of the Holy Spirit in your life is another big crisis. Many seem to understand how the Spirit of life gives them life, but have yet to learn that the Holy Spirit in them, that is, the life which God has given them through Jesus Christ, is also a law. If you let this law operate, it will naturally deliver you from the law of sin and of death. When this law delivers you from the other law, it does not require an ounce of your strength. You need not make one resolution, spend any time, nor even lay hold of the Holy Spirit.
May I ask, does anybody need to hold onto the earth's gravitational force? Does someone need to pray that this force will quickly pull things down? No, there is no need to pray, for the earth most spontaneously attracts things downward. It is a law. All one needs to do is to remove his hand, to not purposely hold onto things. When the will is not working, then the law is manifested. When the will is not interfering, the law operates. In a similar way, the Spirit of the Lord in us does not need our help. If you are afraid that the Spirit of the Lord in you may not be responsible and so you rush to help when temptation comes, it shows that you have not seen that the Spirit of the Lord in you is a law.
May new believers see that the Holy Spirit in them is a spontaneous law. If anyone is to be delivered from sin, he has to come to that deliverance naturally. Should he try to get deliverance by exercising his willpower, he will again be defeated. But now those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer handicapped, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made them free from the law of sin and of death. It is all so simple and so natural. We have been given another law which naturally delivers us from the law of sin and of death.
Someone may ask how this comes about. I do not know, but have you not had some such experience? For example: someone comes to you; he scolds you, quarrels with you, and even beats you. He is utterly unreasonable in all that he does. You should be very angry with him, but somehow you let everything go without knowing why. Afterward you begin to wonder why it was that when you were scolded you forgot to get angry. After that person did so much, you ought to have lost your temper. If you keep on remembering all that he did to you, you will no doubt be very angry. Yet, to your own amazement, you just unconsciously let everything pass. Let me tell you, victories are all won unawares.
Why is it that you overcome without being conscious of it? It is because a law is working. If it were a matter of your will, you would have to think and hold on. But what the Lord does is to give the victory without your awareness. Such victories are real victories. If you have experienced this even once, then you will understand the revelation that the indwelling Holy Spirit is able to keep you from sin. He is able to make you victorious without the help of your resolves. You do not need to make resolutions, for the law in you will deliver you from sin. If you really see before God that since you are in Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life is also in you, then you will find that the Lord puts His Spirit in you in order to carry you through to victory quite naturally. You do not need to will or to grasp; you will just surprisingly be brought into victory.
To overcome sin does not require an ounce of strength, for it is the work of the law. There is one law which makes me sin without my effort, and there is another law which sets me free from sin - also without my labor. Only that which requires no exertion is true victory. I have nothing to do. Let me tell you, we now have nothing to do but to raise our heads and tell the Lord, "Nothing of me." What happened before was due to law; what is now happening is also due to law. The former law did a thorough work, for it made me sin continuously; this new law does an even better work because I am no longer handicapped by sin. The law of the Spirit of life has manifested itself; it is far superior to the law of sin and death.
If new believers can be brought to see this from the first day of their Christian life, they will then walk the road of deliverance. The Bible never uses the term "overcome sin"; it only uses the phrase "made free" or "delivered from sin." It is said here in Romans, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." The law of the Spirit of life has pulled me out of the realm of the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is still present, but I am no longer there for it to work upon. The earth's gravitational force is present, but if things have been removed to heaven, there is no object for it to act upon.
The law of the Spirit of life is in Christ Jesus and I am also now in Christ Jesus; therefore by this law I am made free from the law of sin and of death. "There is therefore now no disabling to them that are in Christ Jesus." The man in Romans 7 is labeled, "disabled." But this disabled person who is so weak and always sins is now, Paul says, no more disabled in Christ Jesus. How? By the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has set him free from the law of sin and of death. Therefore, there is no more disabling. Do you see now how this problem of deliverance is completely solved?
The Way of Deliverance and Freedom
The earlier a new believer knows the way of deliverance, the better it is for him. There is no need for a delay of several years before he can know deliverance and freedom. Within a few months he can have many experiences of learning. It is not necessary for him to suffer many wounds before learning. It is possible for a Christian not to be defeated. So, when you are faced with a difficulty, do not strive, using your willpower. If you are defeated, do not turn back. Learn the way of deliverance step by step. The first step is to see that sin is a law to you; the second, to see that the will cannot overcome the law; and the third, to see that there is another law which does overcome the law of sin. Upon experiencing these three steps, the problem is wholly solved.
May all Christians be able to sing the victory song of praise. How many miles are walked unnecessarily; how many tears are shed because of defeat. If believers see this way of deliverance and freedom from the beginning of their Christian lives, they will be saved many sorrows and tears. What is the way of deliverance? It is that the law of the Spirit of life has set me free. It is a law, perfect and powerful. That law is able to deliver me to the end. It does not require my help. As the law of sin in the world causes everybody to sin, so now the law of the Spirit of life in us naturally leads us into complete victory over sin. It naturally makes us holy, full of life, and full of its power.
You have already received life. Never think that the Holy Spirit sometimes manifests life and sometimes not. If this is your case, you do not know the Holy Spirit as a law. Since He is a law, He is always the same. He is the same wherever, whatever, and whenever it may be. He is the same, not because you make Him so, but because He is so. Do you believe He is a law? I have no way to persuade you to believe. If you have not seen this, you will not believe what we have said. May God open your eyes that you may see this. We have in us not only the Holy Spirit, not only life, but also a law. Thus we shall be delivered.
Having seen this law, our problem is resolved. It is not enough to see the indwelling Holy Spirit; we must see Him as a law in us. Then we shall begin to praise. Hereafter, we shall live a transcendent life. How wonderful it is.
We have already seen that Christ is our victory; but to let Him be our victory has its condition, and that is, we must first recognize that it is impossible with us. If you insist on saying in your heart that you are able, then Christ cannot live for you nor can He overcome for you. For victory is possible only to those who are completely defeated. Now, here is another problem: "Impossible" is one thing, "Not trying" is another. When is a leper cleansed according to Leviticus chapters 13 and 14? It is when leprosy covers all the skin of him who has the plague from his head even to his feet then he shall be pronounced as clean (see 13.12-13). Recall that our Lord called a dead man to arise, not a half-dead half-living man to arise. We must truly see that apart from Christ we can do nothing. So, the conditions for victory are first, seeing ourselves impossible, and second, ourselves not trying. For impossibility and trying are two different things. Some people know they cannot, but they still try. For example: Here is a weight of one hundred pounds, but you can only lift fifty pounds; yet you insist on trying to lift the hundred-pound weight. This is a vain attitude. God knows that we are so corrupted that to be crucified is the only way for us. Nonetheless, our corruption is so deep that we still want to try. So, we spend much time trying. Such people will never be delivered. "Try not" means that henceforth you not only acknowledge that it is impossible with you but also cease trying to use your own strength. You know that Christ is already living in you and that He will do what is impossible to you. His strength is not used to supplement your lack in work. His life does not serve to mend your hole in life. He desires to live in you and for you. Whenever you exert your own strength, Christ is unable to live for you. Hence, we need to see not only "impossible with us" but also to decide "not trying to do" ourselves.
The Lord wants us to fully realize that it impossible to overcome sin by any effort of ours. Many who are saved are able to overcome many of their old sins, except a few. Why could they not overcome their few old sins? The Lord allows this to happen in order to teach us the lesson of realizing that such overcoming is impossible with men. It can be likened to running a race of high hurdles. You can jump over every hurdle except one or two. God knows you cannot, but you do not realize your inability. You may be able to keep the Ten Commandments, but the Lord places before you the eleventh commandment which you are unable to keep.
With respect to us all, there seems to be one or two sins that we cannot overcome. Such sin or sins become our special problem. We seem to encounter the same sin frequently. We sin the same sin today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We are so familiar with the same sin. Our sins seem to be special, not general. A hard person is always hard. A woeful man is always woeful. A proud man is always proud. A worrying man always worries. A despiteful man always despises. A man with a quick temper is always quick to lose it. Each person lacks at least one thing. And God wants us to see that it is impossible with men.
Many have prayed for victory over certain sins but do not find the victory over them. The Lord is using these sins to show us that It is impossible for us to overcome and that we are completely helpless in this matter. When you truly know that it impossible for you, you can thank God. You should understand that the Lord has allowed this impossible task, as it were, to remain in your life in order that this may serve as the litmus test of your victory. Let me tell you this: The Lord wants you to see your impossibility. When you realize it is impossible with you, then God will show His possibility to you." Do you see the principle here? Impossible with you, but possible with God.
As long as we think it is possible for us to overcome we will continue to try and fail. The reason why we fail is we are not trusting in HIM. This lack of trust is sin. If the Lord allowed us to overcome sin in this state we would believe that we did it and that would only further separate us from Him.
Here is a way to test yourself to see if you still need more schooling. If you sin and return to your old habit or lust once more, do you promise God that you will never sin this way again? Do you wallow in self-examination, trying to find some new measure of commitment to recover and move on?
If this is the way you react to a failure or sin, you are still living under the Old Covenant. Your cry may come directly from your flesh, not from God's Spirit in you. Your flesh feels sorry for itself because it did not accomplish the deliverance. And now it is asking for one more chance begging, "Hang in there with me God, let me try one more time."
This is an ongoing problem with many Christians. We look to the Holy Spirit as some kind of booster shot, to empower or energize our human will. We expect him to build up our power of grit and determination, so we can stand up to temptation the next time it comes. We cry, "Make me strong, Lord. Give me an iron will, so I can withstand all sin." But God knows this would only make our flesh stronger, enabling it to boast. Before we can really be strong in the Lord we have see how weak we are without HIM.
If the Old Covenant had truly done its work in you, you would already be "dead." You would not have any tears left, any strength to cry out, any confidence in your flesh whatsoever. The truth is, most of our weeping, begging and striving come from our continuing expectation that something good can rise up out of our human nature to offer the Lord. But that is simply never going to happen. We are always going to be too weak and frail in our flesh to produce holiness. Yes, we are commanded to be strong, but only in the power of God's might, and not our own.
Your prayer to God daily should admit, "Lord, I confess my inability to obey your commandments. I acknowledge my total helplessness to deliver myself from sin's dominion. In all my strivings to get free, I have failed again and again. So, now I come to you as a dead man, in full surrender. I confess my need to be delivered from my sin, and I admit I cannot do it on my own. Oh, Lord, your Old Covenant has accomplished in me two important things. I know in my heart I want to be free. I truly want sin's dominion over me to be crushed. I do not want to excuse my sin anymore, and I do not want to be given over to it. My heart's desire is to walk holy and blameless before you. Whatever it takes, father, I want to be delivered. I want to live wholly dependent on your power. I now abandon all hope of ever getting free by my own strength. I realize my only hope of freedom from slavery rests in YOUR mighty power. I come to you now by faith, Lord, casting myself into your loving hands. Show me the blessings and provisions of your New Covenant. I need a new revelation, a new plan. The old one has only brought me to despair."
This article is taken from the teaching of Watchman Nee.