Faith Identity

I’m Dead to That!

Chad was frustrated with himself. How many times must he go through the same motions expecting different results? After a long, hard week, he fell for porn again, ending up masturbating, again. Friday’s became this dark hole he fell into, only to muddle through Saturday and show up to church on Sunday. At least by then, he felt as if his penance was to get a little more of Jesus; or so he thought.

Interestingly enough, that particular Sunday, the sermon was on Romans 6. Shall we keep on sinning that grace may abound?  Chad perked up from his half-slumber from staying up till 200am the night before.

Isn’t that what I am doing? I just keep on sinning. God forgives me, I guess? Chad thought. Although to be honest, Chad had never really repented. Having been raised in the church, it was far more about going through the motions, hearing the kids’ Bible stories and having an amiable attitude towards Jesus; so long as Jesus didn’t interfere too much with his choices. Guess trying harder wasn’t working. There’s got to be a better way. Chad did his best to track with the rest of the sermon. He heard the pastor read verses like…

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2 ESV

Died to sin?!  Chad argued in his head. I’m definitely not dead to sin. Sin seems to have its grip on me every week.

The pastor continued, 

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. Romans 6:9-10 ESV

Yeah, I get it, Jesus died to sin and rose again. So, how does that impact me?

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11 ESV

Lightbulbs started to go off in Chad’s head. I must consider myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ? How does that work?

The pastor read further…

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:12-14 ESV

The pastor explained. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in what He has done on the cross, you are forgiven of ALL your sin. You are no longer obligated to sin. You now have a choice! You can offer yourselves to sin, just as you had time and time again before trusting Christ, or you can now offer yourself to Christ. 

I am no longer obligated to sin?  The cycle can be broken? I have a choice?  Chad felt both confused and yet filled with a new hope that things can become different for him.

Sitting next to Chad during the service, his friend Brennan couldn’t help but notice Chad seemed caught up with the sermon; perhaps struggling to grasp the message.  

Wanna grab a bite and talk?  Brennan offered.  

The two hit a new cheap millennial cafe for a bite. You seemed intrigued by the sermon today, Chad.  Something going on?  

With his head down, Chad muttered an affirmative. Honestly, Bren, life’s been horrible. I’ve felt trapped in this sin/confess cycle for as long as I can remember. Until this weekend, I was convinced this is my lot in life. All along I thought the church would balance out my sin choices, but nothing could be further from the truth. Chad explained his porn addiction to Bren, how he was self-medicating his perpetual loneliness and depression through synthetic sex.

But, for the first time today, I heard something I’ve never have before. It’s like the pastor put a new perspective on the power of the Gospel. I’ve always believed in Jesus, but I guess for the first time I had a glimmer of hope that things can change for me!  Chad looked at Brennan with a half-smile. 

Explain what you mean. Brennan asked. 

Chad opened up. So, if I have trusted in Christ, which I have, then Christ lives in me. That means I am dead to sin and alive to God. I still have a will and I can choose. The problem has been I’ve been choosing with me in mind and not God. When the pastor said I am no longer obligated to sin, something inside me realized that I don’t have to give my body over to that abyss of sin anymore. There is a better way, and it’s not in me trying harder. When I choose to give myself to God, He does something supernatural.

So, what’s going to happen this Friday that’s going to be different? How are you not going to go down that abyss again?  Brennan asked.

Look, I’m not naive. To get to a better place on Friday, means I have to make sure I’m trusting God on Monday, and Tuesday and so on.  So, Bren, I’m asking you to help me by texting me this week. I know we see each other on Wednesday, but if you could check in on me that would be great!  Chad asked.

Friday rolled around and like weeks past, it was filled with stress, but for some reason, this week was different for Chad. The thought of crashing Friday night and looking at his usual porn definitely crossed his mind more than once, but in texting with Brennan, he realized that he could get to Sunday with a whole new perspective. He had a choice and he was no longer going to present his body as instruments of unrighteousness.  Instead, Friday night came around and Chad decided to hang out with Brennan and another friend. The three biked the river trail and ended up at a coffee shop until almost midnight. For the first time, Chad realized that as he looked to Christ by faith, there was a supernatural change going on that even he didn’t fully grasp. Sunday came around and Chad was not only eager to worship, but he was more apt to take notes during the sermon.

As the months went on, Chad experienced far more victories than failures. Yes, there came some weekends when he fell back into old ways. Coming to his senses, he confessed to the Lord, asked for forgiveness and reached out to Brennan, his accountability partner.  

Not perfectly, but increasingly so, Chad grew in his faith and in his understanding that he was no longer obligated to sin. And, in that, it wasn’t him trying harder, but in his surrendering, by faith, to life in Christ, that brought victories.

Are you like Chad?

For longer than I’d like to admit, I struggled with a similar sin-confess cycle. It got old fast and I found myself depressed, and my faith weak. The Gospel seemed so diluted, so feeble.  When I saw that the power of sin was broken in Christ, for the first time I had hope like never before!

3 Steps to Winning Over Sin

1. Temptations will come. Jesus said so. It’s when you face a temptation that you have a choice. In Christ, you don’t have to choose sin. God promises with every temptation, He provides a way out. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2. Sweaty palms and increased heartbeats are often signs you are being pressured to give into sin. Realize that in those moments, you might not be thinking clearly. This is high time to call or text a friend; someone who will help you see the way out that God is providing.

3. Thank God that when you offer yourself to Him, He rewards your faith with greater transformation, greater maturity. Real men offer their bodies to God. 

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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