Why can’t you overcome that sin that you keep sinning?
You know, that secret sin, or not-so-secret sin, that always seems to trip you up and causes regret, anguish and despair? The one that you know is wrong, but you always seem to bow to anyway? The one that tracks you and pursues you? The sin about which you have the thought: If only I could just conquer this one particular sin, then I would be good.
How can victory be had over that nagging, leeching, life-sucking sin, and for that matter, other sins?
I wouldn’t be writing this if there were an easy answer. The Bible has a lot to say about this and we must hear and apply all the Spirit-inspired help the Bible has to offer. For sin is deadly and eternally serious. The cross teaches us that. If you don’t think your sin is life and death serious, then you don’t understand the cross and the meaning of what Jesus showed us and did for us. It’s that simple. And we must learn to employ the powerful Passion of the Christ and His Cross if we have any hope of progressively having victory over sin in our lives.
Have you considered how the cross might be used in your ongoing fight against sin?
Think about just a few of the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual abuses Jesus endured in his final hours on the earth He created (John 1:1-3):
- (Mark 13:36) Jesus agonized spiritually and emotionally in Gethsemane over His imminent sacrifice.
- (Mark 14:50) He was abandoned by all of His disciples – “And they all left Him and fled.”
- (Mark 14:65) He was punched, slapped and taunted by His own (John 1:11).
- (Mark 14:66-27) He was denied by Peter three times, and this despite the fact that He warned Peter (14:30).
- (Mark 15:1-3) He was lied about and called an insurrectionist – “The King of the Jews”.
- (Mark 15:15) He was used as a political pawn and bargaining chip, and substituted for the convicted murderer and criminal Barabbas, and was scourged. It is necessary to describe the scourging (flogging) that preceded crucifixion to fully understand how much Jesus endured physically. “The prisoner was stripped, bound to a post or pillar, or sometimes simply thrown to the ground, and was beaten by a number of guards until his flesh hung in bleeding shreds. The flagellum consisted of leather thongs plaited with several pieces of bone or lead so as to form a chain. Men who were beaten in this way often collapsed and died by flogging. In some instances, the scouring would expose the entrails and on one occasion, reported by Josephus, the bones of a man were exposed.” (Sources: Danny Akin and William Lane) The beating could be so severe, that some prisoners died from shock before they ever made it to the cross.
- (Mark 15:16-21) He was mocked, physically abused with a crown of thorns pressed down on his head and with a wooden rod.
- (Mark 15:21) He is so physically spent that he can’t carry the traverse beam of the cross to His own death as the soldiers parade Him through the city as a public spectacle, warning all who see that no one crosses Rome.
- (Mark 15:24) And finally “they crucified Him.” That’s all Mark says. Why doesn’t Mark tell us how horrible the cross is? He doesn’t have to tell the Roman Christians that he is writing to because it is a common feature of the ancient world. Mark’s audience knew how horrible it was, but we really don’t. Jesus now hangs, and likely naked, on the ‘slave’s wood’, a ‘criminal’s tree’, a ‘sign of shame’, the ‘infamous stake’, the ‘barren wood’, the ‘terrible cross’ and ‘the most wretched of deaths’, according to Josephus. He was positioned on a hill outside the city wall and was lifted high on a stake so that all would see that He was guilty of high treason (Mark 15:26), and He was executed between two convicted criminals who mock and insult Him (15:27 and 32). While He hangs, battered, exposed and gasping for air, He was continually mocked, ridiculed and maligned repeatedly – even by strangers (15:29).
God ordained that Jesus would come at this time in history, to be executed by the method of the cross. Why? couldn’t Jesus have come at another time and been executed by firing squad, electric chair or lethal injection?
There is surely more than one answer to this question, but there is an answer that will help us in our fight against sin. There is something useful for the everyday fight for sanctification in the punishment that Jesus endured to bring us peace (Isaiah 53:5).
Here it is: THE CROSS SHOWS US HOW SERIOUS SIN IS – IT IS DEADLY SERIOUS. It is grotesquely serious. It is crushingly serious. It is wrathfully serious. It causes injustice that must be dealt with by justice – and Jesus took it for God’s glory and for the ransom of many (Mark 10:45).
So the next time you are hounded by “that sin” and you are harassed by your own fleshly desires, and caving to it feels inevitable, fight and wage war on it by dwelling on the Passion of the Christ and all He endured for you. Develop a mental sensory narrative in your mind that you can play in the moment of temptation. Hear the insults that Christ endured on the day of His death. See the blows and the blood. Put yourself in the place of those who were there. Remember that your sin was there and that you share the responsibility of the cross. Read chapters 14 and 15 of Mark and buy Martin Hengel’s book Crucifixion to study and learn about the details of scourging and crucifixion, and think on the crowd and remember that He bore your sin in His body on the cross, so that you might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
Learn to fight present sin with the finished work of the cross.